Tuesday, August 28, 2007

DCMM: Oh, Thank Heaven...For Cheap Diet Coke

One of the places that I go almost every day, though I'm not proud of it, is 7-11. See, I'm addicted to Diet Coke. I know lots of you are too. For me, it started when I had braces and my mom let me drink soda, but nothing with sugar in it. At first I thought Diet Coke was the grossest thing I'd ever tasted. Days later I was mainlining it. Those of you who who are not addicted may be of the opinion that drinking a six-pack of soda a day is weird. To you, I say that I think drinking a pot of coffee a day is weird. So there.

There are differences in Diet Coke based on the type of container it is in. Aluminum can is better than glass. Glass is better than a 20-oz plastic bottle, and they're all better than a 2-liter bottle, which although perhaps the most economical way to procure Diet Coke, is also the worst.

I believe that the fountain drink is the best way to drink a soda. Clearly McDonald's has the best Diet Coke. AND they have a drive-thru. But their soda costs $1.57 for a large, and comes in a brand new plastic cup every time.

If you go to 7-11, a Super Big Gulp (my preferred size; it's embarrassing, I know) costs a mere $1.25. AND if you bring in your old cup and just get a refill, not only are you keeping one more plastic cup (or can or bottle) out of the landfills, but it only costs, with tax, $.83.

But they don't have a drive-thru and I am rarely without children. I used to refuse to go there with three kids. I'd drive through a fast food place instead. I'd only hit 7-11 if I had two or less children with me, and preferably only one. But at some point I decided to suck it up and just go buy the cheap, more environmentally friendly version.

Which brings up a whole slew of other problems.

The jerks marketers at the 7-11 corporation have taught their franchises well. Sugar cookies dotted with M & M's in packs of three (count my children) sitting in little baggies at the counter? Done. Doughnuts in a transparent case between the door and the soda fountain? Done. A display full of chocolate candy in bright, attractive wrapping directly in front of the door? Done, and done.

My two-year-old knows what "7-11" means and when we pull in to the parking lot starts yelling, "I come! I come!" because I let him push the button to dispense the soda. And I can't help but think what a bad example I'm setting, buying soda in front of them. I mean, it's not like I'm buying crack or anything, but I drink it like it is.

And whereas they might be daydreaming away in the car if I pass through a drive-thru, our trips to 7-11 (or "Sev," as we used to call it when I was growing up) are such a production that it MUST stick in their minds.

How, you may ask, are they a production? Well, aside from the begging for candy and pastries, Jack requires that we walk up the wheelchair ramp, often dangerously crossing half the parking lot to do so. Quinn always demands change from the cashier or me because he likes to play with coins. And someone almost always tries to hold the door for us, but because it takes us fifteen minutes to navigate a door, s/he ends up standing there for a substantial amount of time while no one walks through. Add to this the occassional tantrum and you'll see why I'm sure the staff at my 7-11, where I'm a regular, must wonder what craziness I'll bring to their store that day.

You try wrangling three kids while holding a giant cup of soda and a bag of cookies.

I haven't dropped a full cup yet, but if I keep going there every day with my kids, it's inevitable. It's kind of embarrassing, but one of the things I'm going to look forward to doing when the kids are in school is buying my daily soda in peace.

This post is also cross-posted at Jean's blog, Stimeyland.

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