“I’ll have a large diet Coke, please.”
“I’m sorry, ma’am, but we are all out of diet Coke.”
“No. This cannot be.”
It’s McDonald’s, for crying out loud, and there is nowhere else on earth where I can get this drink in exactly this cup with exactly the right science of flavors and carbonation. I don’t know what it is – probably an excess of chemicals – but nobody does diet Coke like McDonald’s does diet Coke.
“I’m sorry. The machine is shut down for maintenance.”
I am pretty sure I could feel my veins twitching.
“For how long?” I wanted to reach across the counter, grab him by the lapels, and shout, “For the love of God, man! Give me answers!”
“Well, I don’t know when the Coke guy is supposed to be here…”
“Are you telling me there is no diet Coke for the rest… of the… day?”
One of the black-shirted employees comes from behind the counter to test each of the fountains for diet Coke. “This one’s out… but look! It looks like this one’s okay!”
He brings it to me as if it is a drink from the Holy Grail. “Here. Taste it, ma’am. Please.”
I taste it. Liquid gold.
“It’s good! I’ll take it! Hurry! HURRY – before someone drinks the last of it!”
I hand over my dollar bill and a nickel. One employee takes my money while another hands me the cup. I’m telling you, it’s like a race and they are my pit crew.
I race to the fountain, give myself extra ice, and fill my cup as urgently as an addict. Which I may or may not be. (I know, I know. Shut up.) I get the straw in just fast enough to feel the carbonation coursing through me once again.
They say if you think you’re not addicted, go ahead and try to stop.
And so I might have a problem.
Oh, diet Coke. I’d marry you, if only you could meet just a few more of my needs.