My printer ran out of toner. In the middle of a print job (of course!) on Sunday, as I was trying to get a lot of things out of the way before the work week started. Removing the cartridge, shaking it, and trying again failed to fool the printer into squeezing one more page out. OK, the fact that it had run out in mid-page should have told me that the shake-n-fake technique wasn’t going to work, but I’m slow.
So off I went to Office Everything in order to get the necessary toner. Well, I decided as I drove, I’ll also get a bottle of pop while I’m there. And see if they have some of the super-really-ultra-fine pens I discovered after someone left one on my desk at school.
(I can never find pens fine enough for my handwriting. Yes, I’m that person, the one with microscopic, very neat, handwriting. Mwa ha ha, you’ll never borrow my notes again! [cough] Sorry, flashback to grad school. What was I saying?)
No, they did not have the pens, or they were out of stock. So I visited the wall-o-toner and found what I needed, after some grumbling about the cost and comparing prices. Because of course they were out of the house-brand version of the HP that I needed, and no, I couldn’t wait for the next shipment. Precious ink in hand, I made my way to the cooler by the cash registers.
To my surprise and mild dismay, the cooler held absolutely zero beverages with sugar or caffeine, unless you counted the two bottles of sports drink on the bottom left corner of the case. Instead, water took up all the available space. I looked more closely, but say nothing besides bottled water, and the two lonely bottles of techni-color stuff at the bottom. I grumped over to the counter, where the young man on check-out inquired if I found everything I was looking for.
“Do you have an account with us?” My words had sailed past his head or ricocheted off of it, which isn’t really surprising in an office supply palace on Sunday afternoon, when the weather is much nicer than forecast. I paid and departed, pop-less.
I wouldn’t think too much of this, but trying to find pop on Saturday had also proved a bit of a challenge. You see, schools no longer have pop machines where students can have easy access to “bad-for-them” drinks. I know, some of the “fruit juice drinks” probably have more interesting products of modern chemistry in them than do Diet Dr. Pepper or PepsiLight or Limka. Putting “fruit” on the label makes it healthy compared to a blend of corn sugar and carbonated water, according to people who want to protect other people from the consequences of everything. I managed to find my pop fix in the sponsors’ and teachers’ hiding space (aka the grading and sorting room).
So, what does a well-known policy about no sugary sodas (or diet) on schools have to do with the pop-free cooler at Office Everything? Possibly nothing, and it may have been a decision by the management at Office Everything based on the premise that water in bottles costs them less to buy from the bottler, and they charge as much for it as they do for pop, and so the profit is greater. Business logic would apply, and poof, away goes the pop. But because I was in a grouchy mood after the toner failure and a lingering headache from the loooong day on Saturday, I started wondering if there might be something else at play. Was the absence of pop part of a corporate push toward better living, and lower health insurance, both for workers at Office Everything and among other companies?
Is it a paranoid thought? No, not paranoid in the “someone’s out to get me” sense. Conspiracy? Not deliberate. I highly doubt the managers of Office Everything met with representatives of various Texas school districts and several other large corporations to plan how to reduce dehydration and sugar intake among the working population. But there could well be something in the air, so to speak. Health insurance and medical costs are major components on the expense side of corporate ledgers. Anything to reduce that expense, be it preventive health stuff or otherwise, is a good thing (to the accountants). And “encouraging healthy choices” by eliminating the “bad” options would be an easy way to do it (a la public schools.) So for Office Everything to sell nothing but water could well be part of the general “pro-health” atmosphere but not a conspiracy. Or, as I said above, jut an attempt to pare costs and increase revenue. I suspect thefts of water are rather lower than thefts of pop.
But dang it, I’m a grown up. When I want a pop, diet or otherwise, I want a pop! Thppppth.