so, i wanted a coke

   by ryan fagan

(this happened a few summers ago, while in chicago to cover the cards-cubs series and the red sox-white sox series. there’s no real point to the story. it’s just something that happened and writing about it was a way to jar loose the writer’s block i was stumbling over.)

so, i wanted a coke. i’m in chicago, working on a column, and i wanted some caffeine. it was already 10:43 at night, and i’d be up for a while b/c my column was due in the morning. all i had was a $20 bill, though, which wouldn’t work in the soda machine down the hall, obviously. so i went downstairs to try and find change …

… there’s nobody at the guest services desk …
… nobody at the other concierge desk …
… the reservation desk has about 10 people waiting in line and i’m way too impatient for that (i wouldn’t even wait through that many people to check in) …
… the “daily grind” coffee shop/gift shop/price-gouging-for-doritos shop (seriously, $4.50 for about 6 chips) is closed, so i keep going …
… the sushi restaurant is closed …
… i finally wind my way to the bar, where i get change. this is a high-end bar with every single person wearing a suit or nice dress (yes, the hotel was fancy-schmancy … gotta love priceline. got a four-star hotel in downtown chicago for $125/night, when the hotels.com price for the same place was $339/night) and i’m wearing jeans and a t-shirt I got when i worked at bass pro. the bartender asks, ‘a $10, a $5 and five 1s?’ i say, ‘no, a $10 and ten $1s.’ she looks at me like i was taking my $1s straight to a strip club or something. ugh. so i stuck a dollar in her delicates and walked away (ok, not really). anyway …

… i got back to my floor (the 10th) and went to soda machine (pepsi, not coke, which i’m pissed about). the machine doesn’t take dollar bills. stupid thing is broke. ok, so i went to the 11th floor …
… where the entire machine is empty. every single button (yeah, i pressed ‘em all) said the same thing: “sold out.” so i went back to the stairwell and up to the 12th floor …
… where this dollar bill slot doesn’t work, either. crap. back to the stairwell, on to 13 …
… where there is soda! i push the button and it says: “$2.00.” excellent. and, the dollar bill slot makes that awesome noise that tells me it’s registered my money, and takes my crisp bill all the way in. i reach for the second bill. as i do that, the machine starts spitting coins out of the change slot. seriously. one by one by one. one for every five cents of that crisp bill i just gave it. no, seriously. it drops 20 nickels into the slot and a couple go spilling onto the floor.  i take them all out and stuff them into my pocket. thinking, ‘that was weird but maybe a fluke,’ i try again. same damn thing. 20 nickels. unbelievable. maybe it takes change, right? so i drop a couple of nickels in there, and they don’t register. now i’ve lost 10 cents, 15 minutes of my life and still no soda. i call the machine a bitch, kick it square in its change purse and wipe a booger on the pepsi button (ok, not really). on to the stairwell and 14 …
… where there is soda! so i drop all 20 nickels in for the first dollar. then put a dollar bill in. it’s accepted. i push the button. and get my soda (pepsi, not coke, which i’m pissed about). so …

… i go to the elevator, wait for about 5 minutes for one to show up on the 14th floor. it opens. i get in. there’s some old dude named angelo or tom or murphy or something i knew i wouldn’t bother to remember, pimped out in a pinstriped suit up for some fraternity convention the hotel’s hosting in the ballroom. he looks at my shirt and says, “goin’ fishing?” he’s obviously pleased with his joke. “nope,” i say as i call him a bitch, kick him square in his change purse and wipe a booger on his name tag (ok, not really). “just trying to get a soda.” the door opens on 10, and i get out …

… by that time, it’s 11:09, and i’m finally drinking my soda (pepsi, not coke, which i’m pissed about).

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2 responses to “so, i wanted a coke

  1. Finally, I’ve been waiting all week for this story (couldn’t find a Fagan blog). Anyway, I guess it was worth the wait, although I would have preferred Coke.

  2. You could have had a Pepsi from the mini bar in your room for about $20.

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