Friday, March 23, 2007

The Pepsi Bottle Mishap

It was a scorcher for a spring day and I had been hauling tanks of anhydrous ammonia fertilizer all day for my father who was doing the field application. The trip was about 15 to 20 miles one way of gravel roads depending on which field we were applying the fertilizer too and the dust was flying. The truck had air conditioning but it was an old truck and leaked like a sieve so the dust inevitably seeped in coating everything, including my throat.

Back then, pop came in 16-oz glass bottles and I happened to have one chilling next to me in a cooler. I would have gladly drunk it earlier in the morning or with my lunch but farming isn't a nine to five kind of job. I had been hauling since six in the morning and would be doing so until well past dark. Sometimes, the only way to break up the day was to delay the gratification of a pop so that you had something to look forward too. Drinking it at noon and knowing that the next eight to nine hours would be nothing but stale warm water was not something that knowledge of would make the time pass faster.

Finally around three in the afternoon after the sun was finally path its zenith, I decided the time was right. I found a nice wide spot on the gravel road and slowed the 2.5 tons of ammonia I was pulling down to a stop, the dust piling up around the truck and obscuring my vision for half a minute. I reached into the cooler and pulled out the 16-oz glass bottle of Pepsi, still very cold to the touch thanks to the ice packs and beaded with condensation. I reached for my pliers in my hip holster and came up with nothing but air. Thinking they had slid around on the belt, I tried again a little bit further back and came up empty again. I looked. I was missing my pliers and must have forgotten to put them on this morning in my haste to get going. I was now at a loss at how to open the bottle of Pepsi.

My throat ached with dryness as I contemplated the situation for a minute before deciding on a plan of action. I had seen so many times in the movie where someone hooked the bottle top on the edge of a table and with a sharp blow to the wrist of the hand holding the bottle by the neck, inertia would pop the top off as neatly as you could please. How hard could it be to do this?

I looked around the cab of the truck but it was full of plastic and vinyl, neither of which I wanted to damage too badly lest I have to face my father's wrath. So I opened up the door and headed around toward the back of the truck. The tow bar was currently in use, the bumper edges were too rounded but the tongue edges of the anhydrous tank were nice and sharp. I hooked the edges of the pop bottle top on the edge, took a firm grip of the bottleneck in my left hand and sharply hit down on my wrist with my right hand.

With an unmistakable sound, the entire glass neck of the bottle exploded into the air sending glistening shards into the gravel below. I was now holding a bottle of ice cold Pepsi about three fourths full and a jagged edge where the neck of the bottle used to be. Worst of all, my mouth seemed dry as sandpaper. So close and yet so far away.

I contemplated drinking it anyway but I just knew that there would be a shard or two of glass inside that would ripe my innards from mouth to exit and that didn't seem like a pleasant way to leave this earth. So after another minute of contemplation, I did the next logical thing. I found a clean spot on my shirt that had been tucked into my pants and I applied it over the sharp opening of the pop bottle. Being careful, I pulled up my shirt and emptied the bottle in one go using my shirt as a filter of sorts, gulping down that delicious caramel colored caffeinated nectar.

After I had finished what remained of the pop, I wrung out my shirt tail, tucked it back into my jeans, scraped the glass shard filled gravel off the side of the road, put the bottle in an empty feed sack in the back of the truck and resumed slowly resumed my journey to the rendezvous point with my father. My thirst had been sated and it was only five more hours until quitting time. With a belly full of cold Pepsi, that was easy time.

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