In the heart of Atlanta, Georgia there is a particularly special or monumental place to many people who have grown up in the Metro-Atlanta area and acts as a destination spot for any tourists or new-comers; that wonderful place is the World of Coca-Cola. It also happens to be a particularly common field trip destination for my old summer camp, and each visit there was a new way to look at it. It was particularly different on one trip there and they had letters be made telling their story of how Coca-Cola had impacted their life.
I didn't understand how could a simple drink have enough impact on someone for them to take the time out of there day and write an entire page about. In my eyes, it would be seen as completely insignificant. It wasn't until my 16th birthday that I was able to understand the full impact that a beverage could have in a moment of someone's life.
At my high school, Coke products are a never-ending presence due to a contract they made with them which means they can't have any products not made by the Coca-Cola Company. I live in birth-state of Coke so it isn't unusual for me to already going into public areas and being served only products of the coke variety. I do have a problem with the selection that the school has given us, which is the calorie/sugar free drinks. I understand it is a way for them to seem healthier, probably the only way our school administration would accept carbonated beverages into our system; it's just that the taste for these drinks are different from their original counterparts, and as a customer, a consistency in taste is key when I'm buying the same product over and over again.
Diet Coke and Coke are two different drinks, but they are supposed to give the same flavor, and before this year, my taste buds were not receiving that message.
The second half of the school year had started. Nothing had really changed about the school except time and maybe a few teachers. I was walking along to my next class when out of the corner of my eye I saw something strange, new. There was a very peculiar item in the vending machines that was not there before. There were these long, aluminum, cylinder cans, a washed silver color which made them shine and gleam and a stripe of preordained colors down it's front, catching my eye.
From the wide loopy letters scrawled down it's side, I could tell that it was a variety of Diet Coke with the name of the flavor marked across the top. I pause long enough to catch the name in bolded font: Twisted Mango. I knew just by looking at the gleam of the can that I was going to want to try it, but the flavor title further solidified any thoughts that I was would purchase a can of this new strange diet Coke. If the beverage or dessert has mango in it, I am 80 percent more likely to choose it.
It wasn't until two days later that I started hearing more about these newly made beverages, in the news, on the radio, TV, YouTube. I mostly just ignored it because I knew that I had to get one this month, or I was going to be very disappointed. I didn't believe I had any money so I wasn't able to purchase anything the week of my discovery. I knew every time I passed one of those vending machines that one day one of the modern dressed cans were going to be mine.
It was a warm winter day, a very unusual scenario but not something that I believe will be uncommon in our future. The bright weather, along with the fact it was my birthday, should've been two gleaming signs that I was going to have a fantastic day, and I did, but my mood was not matching the upbeat presence of my surroundings. By lunch I felt soggy and worn despite my blessings to be having such a great day and being alive and well. I was feeling positively amazing the day before, but in my dismal state, I assumed that all the good things had come to an end.
Not only had it been my birthday, it had also been my school's winter pep-rally which I had to participate in to help represent my fencing team as we walked across the school's clean gymnasium floor. I felt worse when I realized that I didn't have my team sweatshirt with me. When I finished walking across the floor I took a seat at the bleachers next to a few friends. As I looked out at the performing students working to entertain the crowd of students, most of which would rather be at home as they made jokes and laughed at the less impressive of shows. As the crowd became louder, I became quieter and stared at the ground.
My hands hanging between knees, I watched myself twirl the phone in my hands until finally it fell.
I told myself to pick it up, but everything felt sluggish and picking up my phone felt like the most taxing action I would ever take in my life. I thought over and over to pick it up, to bend over just a little bit and grab it between my middle and index finger. That's all it would take. I just stared at it. It finally made my decision and looked up at the dancing participants, forgetting that my phone even existed.
I was walking on the way home an hour later when I realized the very faulty mistake I made. My mouth dropped agape at my realization before I said goodbye to my friend and ran back the half mile back to school. I burst into the gym and give a wary step down the steep set of stairs. I went to the place I left it. It wasn't there. I asked some young men if they'd seen a phone. They said they saw a white one; mine was black. One of them recommended that I go to the front office.
I give the small group a thanks before turning away in a dash straight towards the front office. I walk briskly to the front office. When I enter from the stairs I immediately get a view of the front office. The lights were turned off, and the large office space had no sense of life inside whatsoever. Any sense of hope leaves me in a long-winded sigh.
I walk out of the hallway entrance and look towards my right. There was a vending machine. My mind sparks with remembrance of the new line of Coke flavors. I walk semi-excited to try something new. My decision only solidified when I saw the prices. It cost 75 cents and it was probably one of the cheapest drinks you could get.
For the first time that school day, I was able to enjoy something. It wasn't another thing for me to do. With that first sip of Coke I felt I could actually enjoy my day. I bought a Ginger-Lime Diet Coke that day, and to this day, it was probably one of the best Cokes I have ever had in my life.
I go over to a bench to savor the drink. I really didn't have anything to do, and no-one was home yet so I might as have taken my time. l spot an administrator walking down the hall. I run up to him and ask if he knew that they saw a phone at the pep-rally. Of course they only found the white one, but he said there may have been others. I didn't believe they had it with them, but it wouldn't hurt to try. I enter the administrators section of the place, and for the first time, I met the my high school principal. I was nervous and jittery, and she asked me what my phone looked like. It was black and the screen saver was a drawing of a dirty blonde girl with her hair up in a ponytail.
"Well, we only have this white one here," she said. She holds the phone up to me, and I stare in shock at what was in front of me. It was my phone. They were more focused on the face of the phone than the case of the phone. She hands me over the phone to prove it's mine. I type in my password, and it opens up immediately.
I give her a smile and a gracious thanks before stuffing my phone into my purse and skip the way home, sipping a great tasting drink. The thing I found odd though is that I felt more joy for the Diet Coke than relief in finding my phone. There was certainly more risk from losing my phone. It was probably $300. It would become a wasted gift, and I believe it had a two-year contract to pay it all off. If I hadn't found it, I would've been in steep trouble.
This could be seen as apathy to my well being. Or that I enjoy flavor a bit too much. But I guess that's what's so great about drinking Coke. Because in that moment, of the first crack of the can, the first hiss of escaping air, of that first delicious taste, I can escape into another world.