Sunday, May 28, 2006

Cokes Abroad

Paris, France

George Rodney, Anne, Beth, and I were in Paris, sometime around 1990. We had just visited the modern art section at the Georges Pompideau Center. We watched the street performers at the plaza in front.

I was thirsty and the others were, too, so I went in search of Cokes. The first street vendor wanted about $1 each. That was too much for that time.

Anne and Beth tried and reported the price they found was $2 and $3 a bottle.

We started walking down the pedestrian mall and George Rodney took us over and sat us at a sidewalk cafe. He went inside and brought out four Cokes. Man, they were good.

When we had finished, and were back walking, I asked him what he paid for the drinks. Four dollars each he said.

Florence, Italy

It's hard for a lot of Americans, including me, to do without a daily Coke but abroad it is very expensive.

In Florence, George Rodney found a vending machine that dispensed the drink for about half that of other machines. I don't know how he originally found it because it was in a police station. He had to go through a couple of rooms to get to it.

We enjoyed our daily Cokes. Then one day a policeman told him: You know, this is really supposed to be only for policemen.

George Rodney politely told him that he would not do it again.

It was our last day in Florence.

Beijing, China

Americans were not allowed into China until the 80s. Not many American tourists had been there when we went in the mid 80s. Trade also was minimal so anything Chinese was rare and prized.

Our friend Richard Henderson's mother is a collector. Among her collections she had a small one of unusual Coke bottles.

In China George Rodney decided he would bring back to her a Coke bottle with Chinese writing on it.

We still had stops in Hong Kong, Japan, and Hawaii before getting home. We carefully wrapped the bottle, put it in a carryon, babied it for another 10 days as we crossed the Pacific and the North American continent.

Then he proudly gave it to Mrs. Henderson.

She asked him what was special about it. He said because of the Chinese writing. She said she was smarter than she had thought because she didn't know she could read Chinese but she could the writing on the bottle.

We had painstakingly brought back one of the bottles in English.

She put it with her collection anyway and would explain to equally puzzled viewers that it was really in Chinese writing but it was hard to see.

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