Sunday, June 07, 2015

Pop Goes Our Culture

Let's start with an affirmation: "I'd like to buy the world a Coke." Never mind that the cost would be prohibitive, and getting all those cans and bottles back into the proper recycling streams would be a huge pain. I would like to buy the world a Coke. Things go better with Coke. It's the real thing. Coke, after all, adds life.
I didn't need Don Draper to tell me any of this. I've been a Coca Cola devotee for the adult span of my life. I confess to feeling a little deflated when, upon ordering a Coke, the waitron tells me somewhat apologetically that the establishment only serves Pepsi. I have been known to let this happen to me, with the understanding that it is an aberration, and won't be repeated regularly. But to be denied a Coke, or any cola product anywhere in this land or anywhere else on the globe is unthinkable. Until now.
It seems that last week, while flying what we understand are the "friendly skies" of United Airlines, Tahera Ahmad asked a flight attendant for a Diet Coke. When she was brought an open can, she asked for an unopened can for "hygienic reasons." Who knows where that can has been, after all? Aside from a cruising altitude of some thirty thousand feet, that is. Ms. Ahmad's request was rebuffed by the flightron, who asserted that an unopened can could be used as a weapon. Never mind that the man next to her had been handed a sealed can of beer. Never mind that Ms. Ahmad is Muslim. Wait a minute. Back up. First of all, it could be that if she had simply ordered a beer, or a Coke (Classic), or had a last name like "Smith," she probably would have been offered an unopened can, and some extra peanuts.
No Coke for you. And now, no work for the flight attendant. What could be more quintessentially American than losing your job after you acted like a xenophobic twit? All of which brings me back to an event some six years ago: The Beer Summit. This was back in the early days of Hope and Change, when our newly elected President sat down with black Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and white Cambridge, Massachusetts police Sergeant James Crowley, who had arrested him for disorderly conduct. They had a beer together to see if they could work things out. Judging by the past year or so, I'm guessing there are still a few beers to be shared. In the meantime, maybe Barack Obama could find a way to get government funding for this "buy the world a Coke" idea. It might even slip past the Republican majority, disguised as part of a defense package, since we all know now that Coke can be a weapon. A weapon of mass destruction for your thirst.

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