Mrs. HM can't take much more. You've read her recent chronicles of the lack of Diet Coke at The Gas Station Chicken Store, and once it was blessedly restored, the absence of 44 oz cups. The most recent magical elixir debacle involves no shortage. That's the cruelest squirt of all.
Thursday, I popped in for a 44 oz Diet Coke, secure in the knowledge that all systems had been go... for at least a week. I had faith that all was right once again, just like in the olden days, when there was nary a problem procuring my precious.
I pulled a foam 44 oz cup, and started my fill. It always begins with a few pieces of ice. No cubes here, they are crushed. I don't want much ice, because I add it at home to prevent meltage and subsequent weakening on the way home. After the tinkle of crushed ice on foam, I pushed my cup against the Diet Coke lever on the soda fountain.
Hullo! What's this then?
The Diet Coke came out all foamy. That's unusual. I filled my cup, and took a taste, as I always do, to bring down the volume and prevent sloshing out the X where the straw goes, on our gravel road, especially the Farmer H and Buddy badly-blacktopped hill.
Huh. That didn't taste like my usual Gas Station Chicken Store Diet Coke. It had a sweet tang. It left an aftertaste that made me thirsty. If I didn't know any better, I'd have sworn that was REAL Coke. I took my cup up front. There was a line ahead of me and then behind me. So I didn't say anything. Just took my not-so-magical elixir home. Where every sip screamed that something was wrong with my 44 oz Diet Coke. By supper time, I was done. No more for me. I bet there were 20 oz left.
Friday, I skipped The Gas Station Chicken Store. I didn't want to take a chance on a tainted Diet Coke. I got a Polar Pop at Orb K. It was nice and crisp, no aftertaste, just like a Diet Coke should be.
Saturday, I figured I'd give The Gas Station Chicken Store another chance. Surely somebody had brought it to their attention. Or maybe the mix had been off, and now it was back to normal. Again, I filled my 44 oz foam cup. Again, I took a sip. YUCK! It was still that off-tasting swill. Yet I had already pulled a cup and filled it. The lone clerk was busy. I could have poured it out and left. But that would be stealing. So I went up front, waited, and paid.
I told the clerk, "The Diet Coke tastes like REAL Coke! It's been like that since Thursday. It's not the usual taste. Something is off."
"Oh, I need to check on that." Said the lone clerk, as a line formed behind me.
I didn't know when he'd get the time to check. But I DID know that I was not going to drink that tainted Diet Coke! I didn't care that I'd paid $1.69 for it. They fooled me twice. Shame on me, but I WAS NOT going to drink my mistake. I headed for Orb K and a Polar Pop. I had not intended to stop there. I made sure they were not out of Diet Coke.
When I returned with my 44 oz Polar Pop of Diet Cokiness, I put it in T-Hoe's cup holder, and took out the GSCS soda. I poured it under T-Hoe so as not to force people to step in it, then I threw away the cup in their trash can. That discarded soda foamed like a vinegar/baking soda volcano! Diet Coke doesn't do that. It only foams a little, when being put in the cup.
Let the record show that I had considered bringing the tainted DC home, to have Farmer H taste it. You know, like people who keep milk in their FRIG II shove it to others after it goes bad, saying, "I think this is expired. TASTE IT!" I didn't want to juggle two 44 oz cups of beverage, though. Besides, if it turned out to actually be REAL Coke, it would not be good for The Diabeetus from which Farmer H suffers.
Of course I told Farmer H about it when I got home. He turned all Sherlock Holmesy, and said, "The simple way to figure that out is to pour out a little bit and see if it's sticky. Well. I'm not going to buy another one to do that experiment. I can't go in the GSCS and put my fingers under the spigot and wait for them to dry and see if they're sticky.
I'll take my winning scratcher (another $40 winner for the second day in a row, bought at Orb K thanks to the DC fiasco) in there, and if the Man Owner is working, I'll tell him of my DC woes. Otherwise, I'm going to ride it out at Orb K with Polar Pops until Thursday, when I assume a new canister of Diet Coke will be hooked up.
Of course, it might take longer, without me buying a vat of it every day...