Written by Joe Janes
205 of 365
(Lights up on a conference room. A group of executives are sitting around a table finishing up a meeting.)
SYLVIA…And that should help us save a few pennies in shipping costs. (They all laugh at this in a polite executive way.) Oh, and one last item. Starting next Monday, the company will be providing free soda.
JACKYou mean, just for us, right?
SYLVIANo. For everybody. You can tell all the employees in your department that starting Monday, and every Monday after; the company will stock a case of 12-ounce cans of cola in every break room in the building. Our Canadian branch does this. They’ve been doing it for years. The CEO there tells me its one of those little perks that brightens up an employee’s day. A little thing that lets them know they’re appreciated. Makes them more productive, too. Any questions?
PHILLIPJust one. Are you trying to kill me?
SYLVIANot through this method, Phillip. What’s your issue?
PHILLIPAdult onset diabetes, type 2. Not supposed to have sugar.
DIRKYou could just not have any.
PHILLIPThat’s not fair. Why should everyone else get a freebie?
NANCYI, for one, wouldn’t mind having a diet cola option. That seems fair.
SYLVIAI suppose you’re right, on that. We’ll split the case. Half cola, half diet.
HILLARYAnd those are the only options? We’ll, now you’re trying to kill me.
SYLVIAHow so, Hillary?
HILLARYThe ol’ ticker. Every since my quadruple by-pass surgery last year, the doctor says no caffeine.
NANCYMaybe we could add a six-pack of caffeine free diet cola.
JACKNo. It’s not. It’s carbonated brown chemicals with sugar and salt. I just want you to keep your hands off my coffee and tea.
SYLVIANo one’s going to take away the coffee and tea, Jack, and we’ll look into doing that, Hillary.
JACKThat’s what you say, now. I’ve worked here twenty years. I’ve always used the coffee maker in the morning and a nice little cup of tea in the afternoon. You take that away, and you may as well tell me you don’t care about me.
SYLVIADifferent subject, but let me assure you, Jack, we’re not touching the coffee and tea. Have all you like.
JACKI will if I want. You can’t make me.
DIRK (looking at a calculator)You know, I was just doing the math on this. There may not be enough soda for everyone. You figure one a day, minimum, five days a week; you could be out by Wednesday afternoon.
SYLVIANot everyone drinks soda, right, Jack? It probably won’t be a problem.
NANCYYou’re assuming no one’s going to take more than one or, for that matter, outright steal it. Take cans home with them.
DIRKIn that case, it could all be gone on Tuesday. What’s the point of having free soda if you don’t have any? Hell, I can give away something I don’t have. Anybody want a million dollars?
DIRKHelp yourself. It’s in the fridge. What? It’s gone. It was there yesterday. Sorry ol’ man. You lose out.
NANCYWe could ration it. Everyone is guaranteed one soda for the week.
HILLARYFor the week? I can’t just sip one soda for a whole goddamn week.
NANCYDidn’t your doctor tell you anything about pacing yourself?
JACKI don’t know if rationing is the answer. I think that’s just going to create long lines in the break room. Besides, I don’t drink the swill.
NANCYFor this to work, Jack, you’re going to have start drinking soda.
JACKNo way. I’ll just pour the crap down the drain.
PHILLIPI’ll take yours. Just give it to me.
JACKI’ll sell it to you.
PHILLIPCome on, I’m already out a million dollars.
JACKWhich reminds me. How are we paying for this? Am I going to have to take a pay cut to cover the costs of soda guzzling freeloaders?
SYLVIAThe company pays for it all. We got a deal from the soda industry.
JACKI don’t see why people can’t just take care of their own soda needs.
(This causes an emotional stir among the group, pro and con.)
SYLVIAStop. Just stop. Everyone just stop.
(She takes a breath. Everyone is quit and motionless for a moment. Hillary leans forward.)
HILLARYI bring a liter of Mountain Dew every day. Are you going to make me switch to a different cola?
NANCYWe added caffeine free diet cola for you.
HILLARYI should have the option. Doesn’t mean I have to take it.
SYLVIANo, Hillary, you can still bring your Mountain Dew.
NANCYI thought you couldn’t have caffeine?
HILLARYMountain Dew doesn’t have caffeine. It’s green. (looks around table) It’s green. Do your research.
SYLVIAI said, “Stop.” Starting Monday, every refrigerator in every break room will be stocked with half a case of cola, half a case of diet cola, and a six-pack of caffeine free diet cola. We will do this for a month. After a month, we’ll re-evaluate it and see if we need to change anything about it. Is that clear? (Everyone sits quiet and nods.) Does anyone have any questions?
JACKWhy do you hate America?
(Sylvia puts her head in her hands. Blackout)