Easterners call it a soda. Industry professionals call it a soft drink. In Texas they call it Coke. [“I’ll have a Coke, please.” “What kind of Coke, sir?” “Diet Pepsi.”] In Utah we call it pop. But whatever title you associate with this sweet nectar of life, one thing’s certain: It’s all about the pop.
I start my day off right: a bowl of oatmeal for the heart and a Diet Dr. Pepper for the soul. And nothing chases away the office blues like an ice cold beverage on my desk. I don’t even have to drink it. I just need to know it’s there. What better way to end the day than with a chilled Dew and an episode of Iron Chef America?
If you are a server- at least in any restaurant I visit- I’ll let you in on a little secret: Your tip depends on my pop. I don’t care if you forget to leave the lettuce off my combination platter. I don’t mind if you hand me the wrong plate or screw up my check. As long as you bring me that glass of bubbly goodness and keep it full. The best server is the one who is always aware of the customer’s pop status. By the time the ice hits the bottom of the glass, there’d better be a new glass on deck. If I have to actually ask for another refill, your tip’s going to take a hit. I’m sorry, but that’s how it goes. The best waitress I’ve ever had was at Chilis a few weeks ago. She knew the soda secret, and kept them coming much faster than I could drink them, bringing each glass with a smile and a joke. The steak was dry, the veggies were freezer-burned, and I think the garlic toast came from the day-old store. But that girl got the tip of her career.
There’s just something about having a full cup of pop, and the knowledge that there’s more where that came from. It’s comforting, therapeutic, empowering. On the other hand, having a finite amount of pop creates an unneeded anxiety. That’s why I hate eating in mall food courts. Everywhere in the world offers free refills on pop. Except mall food courts. Even the airline stewardess will give you another can if you ask. And if food court food wasn’t crappy enough, pop there is ridiculously overpriced, which I’ve never understood. “Here’s your slice of pizza. Would you like to add a 16 oz drink to that for only $1.75 extra?” According to the good folks at PizzaToday.com, fountain drinks cost the vendor about a penny per ounce. And you’re charging me how much??
A regular standalone McDonalds practically lets you plug in and consume Coke intravenously. But not at the food court McDonalds. “That’ll be 85 cents, please.” What’s up with that? Is there some industry secret don’t know about, some market strategy that’s going over my head? If the food court greasy spoon is actually saving that much money by not offering free refills, why doesn’t the rest of the industry follow suite?
Then there’s the ice. You think you’re actually getting 44 oz. of cherry limeade in that Route 44 cup from Sonic? Think again, my friend. Don’t even get me started on the ice…
If you’re not going to offer free refills, at least give me enough to last through the meal. I have enough trouble gagging down a plate of kung pao chicken that’s been sitting in a display case for 8 hours. I don’t need the added stress of having to pace my drink consumption. I don’t need a gallon of Coke, just enough to be confident I won’t run dry halfway through my hot dog on a stick.
Being a political conservative, I’m not a huge fan of entitlements, but free pop refills should be a constitutional right. I know, that’s only a pipe dream. Until then, I’ll be taking my business to Jenny at the West Valley City Chilis.