Coke Light

The other day, I was unloading a 12-pack of diet Coke cans into my refrigerator, and about halfway through the package pulled out one that felt… wrong. I couldn’t have told you why at first; something about it just wasn’t right. I froze, can in hand, hand halfway to the refrigerator shelf, trying to figure it out. Was the can mushy? No. Bulging? No. Dented? No.

It was light.

Lighter than the rest, by about a third. And if you turned it over, it made more of a sloshing noise than any other the other cans. I assume that what’s happened is just that the can-filler failed to fully fill the can, but there’s nonetheless, if you’ll forgive the pun, something uncanny about it. I put the light can on my countertop, and keep picking it up every time I pass by, checking to make sure that I wasn’t just mistaken, that the can is really less than full.

I’m not sure why this has me so unnerved. It has something to do with the failure of the machinery involved, which isn’t supposed to fail. But beyond that, there’s a nagging sense that if the machinery can fail to fill the can, it could also fail to prevent something else from getting into the can, something that shouldn’t be in the can at all. And right behind that is the thought that perhaps my can isn’t two-thirds full, but fully full, just with Something Else.

So part of me is wondering if I’ll ever work up the nerve to open the can and find out. And part of me just doesn’t want to know, thanks.

5 thoughts on “Coke Light

  1. Are you KIDDING me? You want to come over and open it, be my guest. I have all kinds of ideas of things that are lighter than diet Coke, things that could fill the can while giving it the sensation of being less-than-full, and none of them are good. Unleashing that into my home strikes me as a bad plan. Pandora’s diet Coke can, and all that.

    Plus, I’m a big chicken.

  2. So…Did you ever open the can? Or have someone else do it for you outside? Then pour it into a disposable cup? I’m really curious.

  3. You know, I never did. But here’s the funny thing: I went on sabbatical for the spring semester and rented out my place. I left about a month after this post, and had utterly forgotten about the light can, still sitting in a corner on one of my countertops. When I came back in May, the can was gone. I don’t know if my tenant drank it, gave it to someone else to drink, or simply threw it away. But the tenant is fine, and I haven’t heard of anyone coming down with deadly diseases that they came into contact with in my house, so I’m assuming that everything’s okay.

    Since then, I’ve come across a couple of other such anomalys, though none so clear as this one. I’ve had a can that felt about an eighth lighter than the others, which I opened and drank and was fine. And about a week ago I opened a can that was so full that it immediately bubbled up through the opening and filled the top of the can. So I’m telling myself that this particular can was just a rather extreme manifestation of such can-filling variation.

    But I’ll confess that part of me regrets not finding out for sure…

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