I owe you all an apology.
I did not write a column last month. For the first time since I was hired by Intrepid Media (November 1999), I was unable to discharge my duty as a monthly columnist. Admittedly, some of you may feel I instead owe you an apology for writing a column all the rest of these months, and to those people I say, to quote Abraham Lincoln, "go suck an egg."
My reasons for failure were manyfold (manifold?), but essentially it came down to having nothing to write about. Not that there weren't topics out there - Occupy Wall Street, the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday (that's Canadian Columbus Day, right?), how I managed to get a splinter in the side of my foot (really) - however, I did not feel as though I could have constructed anything approaching a good column based on the ideas flitting through my head. Again, some of you may be thinking, "Has he ever written a good column?" The answer is yes I have. Your job is to search my archives for it. All 12 years.
I did do one other thing last month for the first time - I broke my ribs (three of 'em). I'm not going to go into how - suffice it to say that different versions of the story are circulating - but I can tell you it really, really hurts. Especially when I cough. Actually, the weird thing about coughing is that generally my ribs feel a little better every day, except for when I cough, at which point I'm transported right back to the pain of when I busted them. I can only imagine my eyes bug out like a cartoon character each time, but so far everyone's been too nice to comment on my Roger Rabbit moments.
Aside from the ribs contributing to my columnal delinquency, they limited me in another important way: I was unable to use my new Ab Roller.
You heard me. (Actually, you read me, but that's not a saying.)
The Ab Roller is actually the latest in a series of "purchases" I've made with the help of points gleaned from the underside of soda caps.
A few years back, I decided to join the MyCokeRewards.com program (or programme, for those of you in the UK), largely because I drink an inordinate amount of diet soda (and used to drink more), so I figured that as long as I was already buying it, I might as well get something back. And now I have an Ab Roller.
(For those of you who don't know, the Ab Roller is a device that essentially supports your head while you do sit-ups. I have no idea if it works yet. Click here to see it in action and hear a well modulated man's voice grow hair on your chest.)
To be fair, the reasons for my ordering the Ab Roller are actually pretty good, I think. For starters, I'd like to see my abs. I've mentioned this before, but since I've really lost weight (52 lbs. and counting; upcoming feature in Weight Watchers magazine), it's actually something I'm thinking could become a reality. Also, thin and flabby isn't really a great look.
A second reason for my new ownership of Mr. Roller (to keep it formal) is that the quality and "wantiness" of the prizes have gradually become worse than my use of "wantiness." When I first joined MyCokeRewards, they had things like $50 gift cards for Sony. They even had really ridiculous prizes for really ridiculous amounts of points. Like 10,000 points could get you a surround sound stereo (keeping in mind that each bottle cap gives you 3 points). But people complained, as people are wont to do. So the geniuses at Coke said, "Oh, you think the prizes are too many points. So we'll limit them to just 2,000 points."
Anyone else see the problem here? They didn't so much decrease the point values for the things they offered as much as they just stopped offering the really cool things. So now, yes, when I collect 2,000 points, I can get anything on their list, but there aren't that many things worth getting. Hence the Ab Roller.
I can tell you don't believe me. Especially if you've done the math. In New York, the average price of a 20 oz. bottle of soda is $1.75. So that's $1.75 for 3 points. So 2,000 points costs approximately $1,167. Heading over to the Web site now, let's see what $1,167 worth of soft drink gets you:
That's the 2,000 point list.
- Arctic Home RPET Polar Bear Hooded Sweatshirt (XL)
- $50 Nike ID E-gift card
- $50 Nike E-gift card (I could explain the difference, but I'm not going to)
- 6-piece stonewear mixing bowl set
I mean, sure, I could have gotten the second season of Glee for the equivalent of only $1,050 worth of soda, but they're actually out of stock. Really. And the prizes spiral downward from there. $117 to get $20 off a weekend rental car. For $408, I can get a Coke Zero stadium scarf. I can only assume it's so pricey because you're not allowed to bring a regular scarf into a stadium.
So how much was my new health-conscious friend? Only $948. Which, to be fair, is less than the price of paying monthly to join my old gym. Plus, due to the amount of aspartame I've ingested, I have proven conclusively time and again that I do not have phenylketonuria. And I didn't even have to eat into my health insurance deductible to do it. See? It pays for itself. And quenches my thirst. For caffeine.
The kicker, of course, and what makes this promotion worthwhile, is that I'd be drinking the soda regardless of whether or not I could eventually be rewarded with a messenger bag. (As a side note, if you happen to also be a member of this highly non-exclusive club, do not order the messenger bag. I've had Purim Carnival goldfish last longer.) I don't buy the Coca Cola products because of the rewards; I joined the rewards because I buy the Coca Cola products.
What my membership has gotten me over the years:
If I've gotten anything else, I forget what it was. But you get the idea. It's sort of a crap shoot, ordering "free" things. Next time around, I may have to go with the Nike gift card. Or a Shasta T-shirt.
- Crappy messenger bag (see above)
- Ab Roller (see above and my eventual abs)
- Foreman-type grill and sandwich maker (this actually works great, but has no off switch)
- VCR/DVD combo (Sony, purchased with a gift card or two)
- Present for an unnamed family member, whom, I assume, thinks I bought the gift that year
- Coca-Cola folding chair (worked really well for a few years, but the seams eventually failed to hold, partly due to my former fat-assedness, partly due to a magician's curse, but I can't go into that now)
- Subscription to Esquire magazine
- Drawer full of bottle caps waiting to be redeemed (also on my desk, my kitchen counter, a plastic bag on a shelf in my closet)
- One free rental car day from Rent-a-Wreck (they're spot-on with the name)
I also think that right now I've accumulated enough points to give everyone on my gift list a free rental at Blockbuster. Travel costs not included.
So what's my point? I guess, in the end, what I've been saying with this column, the first of my 13th year as an Intrepid Media staffer, is twofold:
a) Try as hard as you can not to break your ribs. Really not worth it.
b) If you ever get a gift from me that has a Coca Cola insignia on it, you can assume I spent waaaaaaay too much on your behalf. On soda.
Oh, and if I may be so bold, I highly recommend Coca-Cola Cherry Zero. That stuff is excellent.
You read me.
A native of Elkins Park, PA, Adam Kraemer spends way too much of his time repeating "K-R-A-E..." He moved to New York City in 1998 and earned Master's in Journalism at NYU; don't let his writing fool you. He feels he is best known for saying the things no one is thinking, but afterwards wish they had been. He spends his free time wondering where all his free time goes and why he can never come up with a decent kicker for the ends of his articles.
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IF YOU LIKED THIS COLUMN...
12.7.11 @ 3:08p
1. sorry to hear about your ribs. get well soon!
2. do you remember the lawsuit over pepsi's rewards program when they "offered" a harrier fighter jet, and someone actually tried to claim it? true story: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonard_v._Pepsico,_Inc.
3. i love cherry coke zero!
12.7.11 @ 6:23p
The ribs are actually much better (people heal), but definitely not 100%. Still can't sleep on my side.
I'd forgotten about that lawsuit. I'm still waiting for the radio station to give me my elephant.
It's great. I'm still a mostly Diet Coke person, for regular refreshment, but it's my favorite go-to. Though the Wild Cherry Diet Pepsi is pretty good, too. But that doesn't get me 3 points.
dr. jay gross
12.12.11 @ 9:53a
Interesting travelog....but a few points need to be clarified;
1. To avoid pain while your ribs are healing, don't cough.
2. Drinking Coke Zero or any other diet 'soda' is fattening because of the high calorie bubbles.
3. Ab Roller machines are great for circulating fiber in your GI track, but don't do much for your mid-section.
4. The very small coupons found on boxes of high fiber cereals (and other healthy things) can be redeemed for more expensive items. (it takes only 1,000 of them to get your first prize) besides - your 6 pack Abs will be well defined after 6 months of eating all that cereal.
Good luck and remember not to cough.