The Sani-Cola mantra was hung above the cube farm for all to see:

90% of customers won’t lose money
90% of customers who lose money won’t contact us
90% of customers who contact us won’t accept a voucher
90% of customers who accept a voucher will never use it
90% of customers who use vouchers won’t find a place to take it
90% of customers who get vouchers accepted will be satisfied

And that was the genius of the operation, the sheer mad genius. By staffing a call center with starving college students, they kept costs down. India would be cheaper but Sani-Cola wanted to “hire American.” Then, by making te above–correct–assumptions against human nature, Sani-Cola all but ensured that your money never left the system.

I could send you a voucher, bulk mail, good for one bottle of cola. The mailing, and the voucher, and my time, all cost less than a bottle of swill. If you didn’t complain, they kept your money. If you complained, they kept your money and let you select a bottle to make up for the one you didn’t get. And you would most likely never use that since machines wouldn’t accept it.

In a way, I was like one of those dollar bills. Sani-Cola had taken me in, and I wasn’t getting out of the system anytime soon. Not with my tattoos or rap sheet.

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The Sav-Mart Express on the corner of Van Buren and Jefferson was like every other Sav-Mart Express: an overpriced drugstore designed to drive Walgreens out of the overpriced by convenient stand-alone pharmacy business, a niche the full-size Sav-Marts were ill-equipped to fill. And a big part of that gouging was tantalizing people with glistening bottles of caramel-colored liquid toothrot at checkout with vast coolers filled with every variety of soda pop known to man.

The Sani-Cola delivery man arrived one day with a pallet of fresh-bottled Sani-Cola, Diet Sani-Cola, Sani-Cola Classic (with chlorophyll!), only to find that another bottle truck had pulled up to the other side of the Sav-Mart Express, which lacked a loading dock.

“Well, well, well,” said the the AtlantiCola driver, his yellow shirt a keen contrast from the Sani-Cola driver’s green. “Look what the cat dragged in.”

“Still pushing your knockoff sugar water on people who think that drinks taste better when you’re skydiving?” sneered Mr. Sani-Cola.

“Only if you’re still hawking that ancient patent medicine snake oil that you call a drink,” Mr. AtlantiCola responded.

They regarded each other over the two competing soft drink pallets gumming up the aisle. “So what are we going to do about this, huh?” said Sani-Cola.

“I think we both know the answer to that,” drawled AtlantiCola.

Sani-Cola seized a pair of glass Commemorative Edition bottles, smashed each, and assumed the Creeping Soda Lotus ready position. The raw chi of his Classic Cola Combo fighting style made the spilled liquid orbit him like a protective shield as he held up a jagged bottle in either hand.

AtlantiCola countered by grabbing a six-pack of AtlantiCola Xtreme held together by fish-trapping plastic rings. A few quick snaps and it was a long, weighted chain of bottles, ready to be grappled with extreme, deadly accuracy. The chi of nearby dead fish surrounded him, summoned by the Ten Thousand Broken Jade Fish Rings fighting style.

The Sav-Mart counter jockey sighed, and sank beneath their counter.

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Whether you call it soda, pop, soda pop, Coke, fizzlers, The Bubbly, or simply cola, you have to admit that this family of soft drinks has never been more pervasive in global society. From ubiquitous advertising to cultural practices that normalize “going out for a cola or two after work with the boys,” people do not realize that colas carry the same risk of addiction as hard drinks (but not medium-strength drinks).

People do not realize that, in a cola addict’s brain, consuming a fizzy caramel-colored beverages lights up the same Important Brain Areas as sex, straight morphine, cocaine, huffed paint, and the Russian skin-rotting drug krokodil (all at the same time). Long-term abuse of cola can lead to:

– diabeetus
– Africanized killer cancers
– kidney hijinks
– bladder explosion
– British Smile Syndrome (BSS)

But we’re here to help. The John Pemberton Center for Cola Addictions is a nonprofit organization that, provided you have the money which we totally do not use for profits of any kind, can help you through your addiction. Our exclusive inpatient treatment center is equipped with all the amenities, support, and strong-armed orderlies to help you deal with cola withdrawal side effects such as:

– sleepiness
– The Bad Shakes
– too much sugar in the form of pastries
– coffee consumption (in conjunction with our sister institution, the Betty Folgers Center)
– irritability
– lack of pop and fizz in one’s step
– sudden increase in tooth health and whiteness
– hours rather than minutes between bathroom breaks

Don’t delay! The John Pemberton Center for Cola Addictions is here to help.

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