2005.11.16.Training pays off

Written by David Green.

By JEFF PICKELL

I think it was during my sophomore year of high school that I went into training. Training is good for folks; it tests their might and determination, their willingness to transform into something new.

When I completed my training, maybe around winter of my junior year, I was indeed transformed—into a bigger, fatter slob than I was when I  started. You see, some people train for triathlons, or marathons, or dodecahedrons, but I spurn such health and geometry related pursuits. I was training for a true challenge, a challenge of the mind, of the spirit, a challenge that numbs the heart and bereaves the soul. A challenge only the manliest of men would undertake.

I was training for the Pepsi Challenge.

The Pepsi Challenge, for those who didn’t spend 1997 through, well, now planted in front of the television, begins with attractive marketing employees from Pepsi asking consumers whether they prefer Pepsi or Coke. The consumer then samples both Pepsi and Coke from separate dixie cups and reports to the employee which of the two they prefer. If the consumer says they prefer the Coke sample, Pepsi loses. If the consumer says they prefer Pepsi, Pepsi wins. At least, that was the gist I took away from the commercials.

At some point during the summer between my freshman and sophomore years, I resolved never to be a tool of corporations, so I quit my job at McDonald’s Corp. and took a position as a stock boy at CVS Corp. This wasn’t of my own choosing, however; my desire to not be throttled to death by my mother for not having a job ended up outweighing my desire to not be a corporate shrew.

But I decided that, even if I was forced to slave for the man, I should still try to stick it to him in some way. Since sitting around drinking pop all day is one of the few things I’m good at, training for the Pepsi Challenge seemed the best method of going about this.

So I sat around in the cooler at CVS, all day, a bottle of Pepsi in my right hand, a bottle of Coke in my right, trading sips, struggling to discern the subtle differences between the two, and growing fatter and grosser by the second. Truly, I stuck it to the man with no concern for myself.

I must say, I trained diligently. Toward the end, I could tell the difference between Pepsi and Coke by sight alone. The only problem was that I had no idea where one went to take the Pepsi Challenge.

The commercials portrayed the Challenge as if it were some kind of spontaneous extravaganza, as if the marketing employees burst onto the street from some hidden place, surprising and terrifying unwitting consumers. For a good spell I kept a reserved demeanor about my fat self, expecting reps from the Pepsi Corp. to explode onto the scene at any moment, expecting to totally stick it to them. However, Pepsi never came, and by graduation, I had to accept that my training was for naught.

But then, I went to Canada.

Specifically, I went to Canada for a rock and roll show, and was having an awful time.  It was a 90 degree day, and I was sweating and thirsty and marooned in a foreign land, far away from my couch. All around me Canadians were jabbering in their absurd and primitive dialect. It was like a buzzing in my ears, and at that moment I wanted nothing more than to stick it to the man. And then, when the sun was highest in the sky and it seemed I could bear it no more, I saw them: two attractive young marketing employees administering the Pepsi Challenge in the distance.

I marched over there gritting my teeth, years of pain and anguish and obesity replaying in my mind, and stepping up to the challenge booth dared the marketing employees to do their worst.

“Do your worst,” I said.

“Do you prefer Coke or Pepsi?” asked the employee.

“I prefer RC Cola,” I snapped. “Now let me take the challenge.”

She motioned to the cups. I finished them in two gulps, then slammed them to the table and said, “That one’s Pepsi, that one’s Coke, and you’ll never make a dime off me again.”

Before she could respond, I wobbled off, satisfied, the fat on my upper arms jiggling.

There’s nothing like sticking it to the man.

   - Nov. 16, 2005

 

  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
  • Front.sculpta
    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
  • Shadow.salon
    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

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