A surprise emotion bubbled up inside of me yesterday at the World of Coke: Joy.
There I was, sitting in the crowded theatre in Atlanta. There, at the epicenter of Coca-Cola's worldwide advertising mastery, whilst I least expected it, the tears rolled. Their fuzzy video trip down memory lane worked its fizzy wonders on me.
But then again anything done in excellence has always moved me to tears.
All the cool retro images of droplet-laden green bottles being lifted to luscious lips on smiling faces had softened my jaded mind. That's how it started. Then somewhere in all the carbonated imagery flow, angel choirs of diverse singers appear, gathered on a mountaintop somewhere in our hopeful world. Their universal brother-sisterhood effervesces as a song: I'd like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony. That's when I felt the little drop of Coke rolling down my cheek.
I mean, this whole thing surprised me from the start. I went into it with a curiosity about the history of Coca-Cola, which had started here in Atlanta back in 1865. Dr. John Pemberton had concocted the magic formula back in the day, in his drug store that had existed just a few blocks from where we now stood with this myriad of happy Coke imbibers.
Moving steadily through long (though quite speedy) lines of happy consumers, we had entered the huge pavilion. Disneyesque, it was. And large. Big space, bright, colorful, lots of people, children, and fluidic middle-class abundance at sixteen bucks a pop, maybe less for the kids, I don't know. Ours our grown. Katie was with us.
The cool fuzzies exuberance had gotten to me by the time I had gone through the four or five movies adventures inside. All about the fizzy drink, of course. The last phase of your World of Coke experience comes in the samples corral, where those hundreds of excitable drinkers, me among them, get rounded up for some sweet diversities of tasting. The folks are all spiriting around like bubbles, drawing samples into little clear plastic cups, through a multitude of soda fountains with all cokish drinks of the world.
That's when it got to me. These people are having a great time! Its beautiful! Peace and love, man. And hey--it's Coke, not cocaine. American as mom's McD apple turnover and Chevy Volt. Let us teach the world to sing in perfect harmony.
And it burst my bubble of environmental worry that had built up a few days ago while listening to a radio show on recycling. The law of unintended consequences is universally at work here, and throughout the world, wherever you see soft-drink bottles laying in the gutter or on some neglected hillside or roadway, not to mention all the unseen containers in landfills. PET plastic, polyethylene terephthalate, everywhere you go in the world, after I have enjoyed the pause that so refreshes.
It didn't used to be that way.
I mean, when I was a kid-- like, about the age of most of those young'uns we saw at the World of Coke yesterday-- we'd pay bottle deposts at the store when we bought the Cokes. After slurping the drinks down, we'd get the deposits back when we returned the bottles.
Whatever happened to that? One of my best memories was thinking that those much-loved little green glass bottles were being washed and refilled in a Coke plant somewhere, for other smiling drinkers to enjoy.