Hello, My name is Shepard, and I am a Surge-a-holic. In another story, I could prove my addiction to the magical green-blue beverage. But this is about triumph over impossible odds. As most of us know, Surge seems to be disappearing off the face of the earth. Some locations are lucky enough to have it in abundance, at their supermarkets, and in cans. Surge only appears in random quick-e-marts or fountain dispensers in my area. But there are others out there without Surge. Their suffering is worse than any east coast drought.
My story begins with a 7-11. One of very few random locations around the Philadelphia area which serves up Surge. The 7-11 is on JFK Boulevard, the North-East corner, which intersects with 19th st. I work on the South-East corner of the same intersection. It was with complete satisfaction that I'd cross one intersection and re-fill my 64-fluid-ounce-super-double-gulp cup with Surge.
"Hello Neighbor" the sales clerk would always say, as I walked in.
"Good Morning!" I would say in reply, "It's refill time, you know, you are one of the only places that still sells Surge?"
He would give me the knowing smile that only he could. He was a man with a weathered, yet honest gleam. "How are you? How is your girlfriend? Are you two still planning to go to California?"
After running into him on an "L" train randomly one evening, I learned his name was Sheiffu. He used to manage a 7-11 in Ohio before he ran into trouble. He was forced to leave his business behind and relocate to Philadelphia with his family.
"We are both very good, and yeah, we're leaving in August. It will be fun!"
After the familiar small talk I would romp over to the fountain. Always excited to see the Surge logo, I would slide the cup under the dispenser. Pressed against the fountain, the liquid grew. The surface gurgled into a blue foam mist. As it rose and shrank, the foam created blue residue droplets on the sides of the cup.
The blue droplets hovered for an instance, then quickly rushed in, returning to the beverage mass. The contents converted back to the familiar green glow. With the straw poised, I would dip in and sneak a sample taste, and then top it off completely. The clear plastic lid sealed the Surge in, preventing spillage of the slightest drop. I would guide the Surge over to the cashier counter, like delicate china, sipping at the straw to make the journey easier.
With the slow disappearance of Surge around the neighborhood, I was overjoyed to pay the 85 cent refill rate for a full 64oz cup. Sheiffu knew what I was about to purchase, it was a daily routine. He had the register rung up to the total of the Surge and two soft pretzels.
"Make sure you say hi to your girlfriend, you two look good together" Sheiffu would critique and praise, enhancing the whole experience.
"I sure will. Take care of yourself and your family my friend." And I would leave the 7-11 feeling rejuvenated with Surge.
Time went by. Time sped up, and time slowed down. Eventually Sheiffu was transferred to a different 7-11, near Drexel's campus. I ran into him there once and we caught up on our lives in that instant. After that, we lost touch as people often do.
I continued to purchase Surge at my local 7-11 without Sheiffu. The replacement crew was cold, young, and random. They were inexperienced with the friendliness you share with regulars. Never again was there a memorable conversation, just a required nod. Their ring-up atmosphere was as if each purchase was my first and last. I had to prove to them I had two pretzels. They would ring-up a regular priced beverage before i reminded them it was a refill. They slowly began to recognize me, but not with Sheiffu's politeness. They were starch, and my presence seemed to pinch a nerve in their cheeks. The joy of going there began to fade, as did my patronage, although I always had my Surge.
One month went by and other locations dropped Surge from their fountains. I thought of the worst for my supply, so i began going more frequently. I feared that each time, Surge would be no more.
On March 25th, the fate played itself out in the cruelest way. In all my planning I was not ready for it to end like this. I studied tactics such as spotting the change from a distance, where as I approached the fountain, I'd notice a different logo on the dispenser. Or, being such an addict, I fanaticized that I myself might cause the Surge to empty, getting the last few ounces of surge syrup to pour free with carbonated water. I was not prepared for such a different chain of events
I walked over to the fountain, and pressed the Surge tap. It did not run clear. Good. But it did not run green. It ran orange. Orange soda. How could the 7-11 stock orange soda in a Surge-Labeled fountain without letting us know? Did they think people would not be able to tell the difference?
Did they think people would not care? I stood and stared at the tap wondering how it could be true. I asked the clerk what was going on. He told me that they had replaced the Surge with orange soda. I should have expected such an obvious answer. The clerk went behind the counter to retrieve a black magic marker. As if on a simple day's task, he scrawled the word "orange" on the back of a sales receipt, and taped it over the Surge logo. Such a huge injustice and a pathetic way for surge to dissolve into history should not be allowed. There I walked out without Surge or an esteem boost.
The next day, I walked back into the 7-11 to make sure the catastrophe was not just a dream. Still taped to the fountain read the black and white note reading "orange." I tried the fountain with my cup. It was still orange. I washed the remnants of the orange soda out of my once glorious cup, keeping the memory strong and true. But now, with a clearer head, I wanted details.
He had none. Except that when the Surge ran out, the Coke guy refilled it with orange.
As if by mating call, a Coca-Cola Shelf Stocker wheeled a cart full of coca-cola products to the back, near by the fountain. Here was my source of frustration. I asked him, point blank, what happened to Surge. He said they stopped making it. They. Who were they? Philadelphia bottlers? Coca-Cola? 7-11? Whoever it was, he made it clear that 7-11 was not getting it back. I made a final plea for its return, that it was all I drank, and that I saw it diminishing from other locations, and had been thankful it was still at that 7-11. The Coke guy shrugged it off and continued to stock the refrigerator shelves with new coke lemon twist. With that final insult to injury, I was out of the 7-11, returning less frequently than ever.
The cup, still full of memories but no Surge, was retired to my desk, the Florida for Surgeless refillable cups. It began to spend its days being used for water-cooler water.
A random journey to a different mini-mart unearthed a new location for the holy grail of beverages. This new place was 1/2 mile away from my office. With Sheiffu long gone, and the one block walk an evaporating memory, here was my new refuge. I was reduced to carrying a smaller 44 oz refillable cup a mile everyday for my only Surge oasis. As a yet un-tapped resource and fearful of the Coca-Cola Shelf Stocker's words, I visited the mini-mart every other day, filling up on Surge, making sure it was still available.
But on May 18th the fountain ran from green to clear. My dream to finish out the Surge tap was now a nightmare, thinking that Surge was discontinued. But returning the next week, I found it running green again. This happened on two separate emotional occasions. Since it happened twice, it seemed they could re-order Surge and I began to lose my fear that Surge would ever be gone.
It became a nice break in my day, to take a mile walk, reaching Surge as my pot of gold. I began to forget the old 7-11 days. I would make special stops at the mini-mart whenever I was in the city, not just work days. A good friend of mine lived right across the street, so I would always go to his place with Surge in hand. I saw a consistent crew of employees, working for every shift and they began to grow on me. They even let me, when they ran out of cups, swipe the 44oz cup in the display, and use it for Surge. I figured, since they ran out of 44 oz cups, having one in the display was meaningless. I would tell people who got soda next to me that this was the only place selling Surge in the city. And that was when the my euphoric bubble began to deflate.
With glee, I mentioned the mini-mart's monopoly on Surge to a guy using the fountain. But unbeknownst to me, one of the mini-mart's upper management employees walked by.
Hearing my sermon, he quickly remarked that Surge would be replaced once it ran dry with Lemon Minute Made juice. I told him that he did not understand, that I came there only because of Surge. And I would not come back once the Surge fountain disappeared. Maybe he thought it was a joke, or maybe he did not care about one person. He seemed rather impressed with the idea that Surge would be replaced, like he was doing humanity a favor. I had my Surge for the next two days and I left uncertain of the future.
And it happened one week later. July 1st. There was a Cherry Coke sticker over the Surge fountain, which now ran brown. I had my refill cup, but threw it out in disgust. I stopped by my friend's place with the terrible news. He told me that he already knew, but did not know how to break it to me. I thanked him for letting me find out by myself, and I figured that it must have happened over the weekend.
I slowly walked back to work. Even though I usually had a full cup of Surge to maneuver back to the office, it took longer to return empty handed. Disheartened, upset, and thirsty, I made a stop for pretzels at the 7-11 on 19th and JFK. I walked over to where the Surge once was. I wanted to remind myself of Sheiffu and the 64 oz Surge days.
There it was. New. Bright. Untouched. A mirage? A Surge fountain returned? As I remembered it, an orange sign covered the Surge logo like a thick sweater covers a large breasted girl in the winter. You knew it had been there, somewhere. But now it was spring again. The new Surge tap beckoned me over, tempting me to try. I thought it would run orange, the paper sign must have rotted away or fallen off, and the ignorant 7-11 staff must not have replaced it.
GREEN! It was in there. I sprinted out passed a co-worker sitting outside the 7-11, saying I'll be right back.
I grabbed the 64-fluid-ounce-super-double-gulp cup off my desk and caught my co-worker still sitting there. Without thinking, I went right for the tap. I poured the water-cooler water down the drain, and filled the cup with whatever came out of the Surge-labeled tap. Taste…sweet, not much carbonation…Foam…green-blue-green…Residue…blue ...it WAS SURGE! I covered the even-more-precious liquid, and gingerly maneuvered it to the counter.
I began to pay for it, and the clerk rang it up as a regular soda. I reminded him that it was a refill, he cleared the price, and charged me the 85 cents like always. And two pretzels.
"You like the soda?" said the clerk.
If someone has 64 ounces of anything, they must like really it.
"Yeah, I know this is quite a big cup." I said as I thought of the clerk mocking me and my cup.
"I know. You like the soda, right?" he mysteriously repeated. And it all began to de-cloud. He did remember me. He remembered that I like Surge, He remembered the refill cup, and he remembered the two pretzels.
"Yes, I do like the soda. That is why I came here, for the Surge" I stated, with cheer and respect.
"I know, that is why we got it back"
"You. You like the soda, We requested it. It was brought it back. Because you wanted it."
So that was it. My quest for Surge, my conversation with the Coke Guy, my words of love for Surge, and above all, the memory and the regularity of my visits all stuck in the minds of the 7-11 employees. I realized that Sheiffu was a great guy, but I was so used to his atmosphere, that I never gave the new 7-11 employees a chance. But they, one way or another, were able to get Surge back into the fountain. And they were kind enough to let me know, that I helped to bring back the rush!
thank you for your service, fellow surge brother
I liked Surge, but probably not to this extent. I always had cream soda, root beer, pineapple soda, mango soda, orange soda, vanilla coke, and other delicious sugary syrupy assholes to enjoy, so I could never devote myself this deeply to one soda.
But nonetheless, I found that tale oddly satisfying. You should get it published, it's Sedaris-level enjoyable.
It's funny because I was talking to my grandparents about soda recently.
They think Dr. Pepper is "too spicy"
They don't try other sodas, they find one they like and stick to it, the variety of choice means nothing to them.
My 50 year old uncle likes Mt Dew, he drinks a lot
My 80 year old grandma likes orange but mostly drinks decaf tea and coffee.
that's interesting. but it's probably because they're old and have conservative tastes. I've moved country a lot, so I always have to get used to new foods, but since I was in high school or so I never had trouble adapting to new flavors, probably because I had to grow up eating absolute shit and I always pined for anything with substance, like a steak or Mexican. took me a while to grow into sushi though.
oh yeah, generic brand code red was one of my favorites a long time ago, before I gave up on caffeine. also cherry 7-up and cranberry sierra mist were my jams. and whenever I went north I had to try blue soda.
if there was a drink I would bring back,it would probably be Sprite Remix. I've always been a fan of citrus drinks over cola, and remix did nothing wrong