It was two colas for the price of one.
It wasn’t cola of course, it was specifically Diet Coke, but, generally speaking, news organisations like to avoid using brand names in articles.
This might seem overly cautious, but I have to confess when I’m spending my pocket money I use the phrase Diet Coke almost all the time, no matter what brand of cola is being sold to me.
That’s the power of marketing.
It’s not even my favourite brand – I much prefer Pepsi Max – but what I ask for when I’m offered a choice of soft drinks is Diet Coke.
I say it without thinking. I drink it without thinking until the other day that is, when I was offered an extra one at a garage for free.
“These are on offer, two for one,” I was informed “Do you want to go and get another one?”
“Don’t worry,” I said.
“Are you sure? It’s another one for free,” he said. He wasn’t worried. He was incredulous.
I did my ‘I’m thinking about this to show I have given this proper consideration face’ in an attempt to head off further discussion and speed up the transaction. However, the assistant clearly took this as a sign of weakness.
“Are you sure?” he said again, as though he was my mum working out who took the last Jaffa Cake 35 years ago.
“Positive,” I replied. I really was. I couldn’t be bothered to go and find another bottle and anyway, I didn’t want two bottles.
“It’s another one free,” he said, doing his best to improvise a response to my bewildering idiocy.
“Don’t want it,” I shrugged.
I could tell by the way he raised his eyebrows and finally rang up the goods on the till that I was going to star in a coffee-break anecdote later but we had got to the stage where I couldn’t back down.
My logic was this: where does it all end? What if it was a free crate of cola? What if it was a free tanker? What if it was an elephant so bloated with cola that it was spurting free drinks out of its trunk for a whole year?
I’ll tell you where it ends: at the point where I decide I have all the cola I need and at that particular time it was one bottle.
My One True Love was on the side of the garage assistant. I could have given the extra bottle to her.
That, of course, is ignoring the reality of how that would play out in the chaotic hours of the early evening.
In the midst of all this I don’t pull out tickets to a Caribbean holiday or even a bunch of flowers – I present her with a bottle of Diet Coke. There you go love, don’t say I don’t think about you, now what’s for tea?
My One True Love doesn’t need it anyway, having bought eight bottles in the supermarket to bring the value of her shopping to over £40, thus triggering an £8 discount coupon.