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The Green Mountain State, Vermont

Small White Bear Trapped in Coke Bottle

So, I had a very long day today; Some good, some not so good.
However, the day was broken by a rather surreal experience that I had right before my second 2 hour English class.

For those of you who don't know, I don't drink soda anymore. I used to drink diet soda quite a bit, but came to the realization that it's probably evil and probably rotting my guts out...Anyway, today I was exhausted and very hot (I had just spent an hour in the sun playing guitar to unimpressed college students) and I broke down and decided to get a diet coke out of the machine in the triple building.
I slid my dollar into the machine and pushed the button to dispense my choice. The bottle clunked, and as I reached down to retrieve it, I noticed something odd - well, several things actually.

The first thing I noticed was that the bottle had not dropped all the way through the trap-door, but was still mostly stuck up inside the machine. The moment that I gripped the bottom of it I was struck with how light it was, not the normal liquidy, shifting weight that one comes to expect when they heft a soda bottle in their hand.
As I pulled the bottle out of the trapdoor and into the light, I noticed that there didn't seem to any liquid in the bottle at all, in fact, there was something else, something foreign.

At first I thought it was a joke, the kind that I would pull if I was in charge of refilling all of the damn machines; maybe a t-shirt or a paper towel stuffed inside an empty bottle.

As I pulled the bottle free so that I could get a good look at it, I realized it was neither of those things; it was, in fact, a small polar bear smiling from within the confines of the empty plastic bottle. Like a ship, or a rat.

I don't know if this is a campaign that I just missed due to my busy schedule. At first, I was a bit annoyed actually; I was tired and hot and I wanted a goddamn soda, not a claustrophobic bear trapped in a small plastic bottle. When I looked closer however, I realized that along with the bear were four quarters, enough to buy another soda. I stared at the four quarters and the trapped but smiling face of the polar bear. Upon closer examination C and I realized that the bottle came apart in the middle and the quarters (and the bear) could be easily freed.

I pondered for a moment; maybe this was sign, a message from the cosmos that I shouldn't have that soda that I had decided not to drink anymore. Now was my chance to redeem my moment of weakness and walk away.

The quarters felt cold in my hand from sitting inside the soda machine.

Each quarter made a clean, sharp click as I slid them through the change slot, and was followed by the familiar liquid-filled thunk of an actual soda-filled bottle as it slid out of the trapdoor and into my waiting palm.

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The Green Mountain State, Vermont

September 2009

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