It says “Stop Killer Coke” in bubble letters. Each letter is a different colour, orange, blue, green, yellow, red. The little information pamphlet is hand written on cardboard- fun facts about dangerous organic carbons are presented to me in scratch and sniff pink in concise bullet points. Someone cares a lot about coke. I learn about water scarcity, dangerous toxic emissions and spills. I am directed to a website but I don’t care because whoever wrote this. I believe them. I believe them because there is an aching sincerity in the analog. The scratch and sniff is real, it is truer than science this morning.
It gives me a pang. Because it is 9:00 am and I am drinking a coke. I am always drinking coke. Coke is sold everywhere. I think of the last five places I bought a coke. The man in the couscous kitchen van on Mass. Ave, yesterday afternoon. I had been craving some grapeleaves and needed something to wash it down. He sells coke for 75cents and I always think that’s a deal. The van is kind of gross, it doesn’t look very clean. Gritty and pungent are words that come to mind, but I need something tart and dripping with oil. I am also tired. So I could use a coke. Later that day I buy a coke from a friendly lady who wears a headscarf and has very long fingernails in the subway at Harvard Square. Next is in the library, from the ghastly glowing vending machine. There is a thunk, the sound of a small animal dying when the coke is dispensed. I have one with my dinner in a little diner where they have peeling paint and many potted ferns, it is fizzing against the back of my teeth and I know it isn’t healthy. Coke, from the 24hr convenience, that I sip daintily on the bus home. A little girl in pig tails eyes my sweating can that shimmers under the city bus fluorescents. I wished she wouldn’t. Children make me uncomfortable when I’ve had too much caffeine. Coke is sold everywhere. Mostly, because people like myself buy it, people who are needy. Insomniacs, overeaters, sugar fiends, the bored. Coke is a panacea.
I know that coke is horrible. So do you. It rots your teeth, it’s an irresponsible corporation that’s appropriated Christmas. It’s a multinational corporation that has disegard for the safety and health of their workers in places where there are no unions. Coke makes you fat, diet coke might actually cause cancer. Yeah, I know it’s bad. Coke might kill me, I wouldn’t be too surprised. Coke will probably kill other people too, their factory workers, the people whose fresh water supply they are exporting, many unhealthy and obese Americans. But from beyond the scratch and sniff letters, a little voice called to me, “you know I’m not doing it you shouldn’t either”. There is a humble legitimacy in the way they chose to spoke to me. And in an era where media are merely excuses for advertising space, this pamphlet seems uncompromised. I am now drinking tap water. I am going cold turkey.