Thursday, June 23, 2011

The most interesting day of my life.

Friday, June 10, 2011
5 a.m. Alarm.
6:15 a.m. I am sitting shotgun in a truck full of Coca-Cola product heading to the outskirts of downtown Atlanta.

Today I experienced a new aspect of The Coca-Cola Company. Today was my route ride with a Coca-Cola truck driver delivering product to Georgia convenience stores and local restaurants.

My driver, guide and new best friend Greg had no idea what he was getting himself into: a curious little girl, full of questions and unwilling to do less than equal the workload.

We had 19 stops, more than 400 cases of Coca-Cola packages including DASANI, SmartWater, VitaminWater, Powerade, FUZE, MinuteMaid, FANTA, Sprite, Diet Coke, Coke Zero and, of course, the original Coca-Cola, in cans, plastic bottles and even 8 oz. glass bottles—which made me the most nervous to move.

Greg strapped me down with the electronic devices that updated our deliveries and printed the receipts. And after few trial and error runs I was ready to go—a real pro at perfecting the orders. He took his side of the truck and I took mine. I’d read out the order, and we would both get to business unloading and stacking the cases.

We were in the outskirts of Atlanta, and with Greg I was completely safe. His positive attitude, huge smile and hard work ethic gained him respect and trust among the store owners.

Greg did most of the work with the hand trolley, but I would lock up the truck, hold the door for him, deliver the bill and collect the money before he could even unload the product. We both stocked the shelves and coolers, then I would put the trolley back in its place on the truck, then on we went to our next stop. 

By noon my arms were bruised, scraped and shaking from lifting so much, I didn’t slow down though, and I think Greg became more and more proud of me with each stop. He loved telling the store owners and regular customers he knew that I was his help, and hell no, he wasn’t lifting a pinkie today—it was all me. Of course he did pick up a good deal of my slack, but I know he appreciated my hard work, too.

So let me tell you about Greg-- one of the most interesting men I have ever met. First off, he looks in better shape than most NFL football players I’ve seen. Broad shouldered, with calves like ham-hocks, his bright, white-teethed smile is what really stands out.

It is the people like this that I meet in Coca-Cola that make me realize that there is more to the business than creating a product-- it is about a lifestyle that is so sustainable, 125 years after the first glass was poured, people still wake up each day with a smile on their face because they are part of it.

There is just something different—real—about immersing yourself into the everyday labor of physically bringing people a refreshing moment in their day. Something incomparable, and I will not trade today for anything.

Onto a hot shower, good meal (no, we did not even stop for a bathroom break in our 10 hours of work, let alone lunch) and a long night of rest.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Help me do some quick and dirty PR!

Check out this commercial we interns are helping to promote for Coca-Cola's new Hispanic-American commercial for the Soccer Gold Cup:

Already almost 25% done?!

Well it is pretty obvious that I have been MIA lately. My evenings have been filled with writing journal entries, creating media contact lists, running through Buckhead—not leaving a lot of time for blogging.

I CANNOT believe I am already in my FOURTH week at Coca-Cola. Not cool. I am going to be 1/3 done by Friday…tear.

Scott always gives us little tid-bits of advice each day. My favorite has been, “If you haven’t been in an animal suit, you haven’t been in PR.” And let me tell you, he knows from experience. Can you say Coca-Cola's Pin Collectors' Conference mascot Pin-Guin?


Anyways, the weeks are flying by as I jump from meeting to meeting, trying to keep up with the lingo and remember as many names as possible. I know for a fact I am getting way more out of this internship in one day than I will be able to give back the whole summer. I feel like I am stealing, like physically robbing the company of education.

Oh P.S. the storm that ripped through the city last Thursday—as in two weeks ago, I guess—turned my 7 mile, 45 minute drive home into 2.5 hours! Not to mention, (I never know why people say that, because obviously they are mentioning it) a tree snapped and fell on the car three in front of me. Real life. Plus, it ripped the sheets that were covering the Coke tower for the 125th anniversary digital display.

One of it's images:
It was just an incredibly sad day for Atlanta on so many levels.

Today, on the other hand was fabulous! We got to tour a Coca-Cola syrup plant, which was amazing—I felt like I was in Willie Wonka's Chocolate Factory! Let me tell ya, though, those freestyle machine cartridges are not easy to create. It was watching some futuristic movie the way the machines moved so quickly and intelligently, easily molding the plastic, creating the bags and filling them with concentrate.

Did I mention the cool outfits we got to wear??

I am continually amazed by the genuinely passionate people who work in every division of the company, too. The plant manager was so knowledgeable and interesting! The quantity of beverage the plant produces on an annual basis for the Southeast is insane, but not quite as impressive as its turn-around time from when an order comes in—only 48 hours!

After the plant we stopped at America’s original location of the original chicken sandwich: the Chick-fil-a Dwarf House! I never knew! The entire experience was utterly hysterical, and almost deadly as I laughed so hard I began to choke, drawing the attention of many bystanders, including one 8-year-old who was completely turned around from her food to watch me try and breath:

It only got worse when I just about fit perfectly through the dwarf door. Not as funny as Colleen and Daniel made it out to be, and definitely not my fault they are giants in my world.

Eating out is a real treat, because most days I take my lunch back to my desk so I can work. Last Friday, however Scott treated Daniel and I to a delicious meal at a restaurant called Stats. It would have been a pleasant outing, however we dinned on the day a funeral was being held there—for the Atlanta Thrashers. Hockey team. Enough said.

Other times I have really enjoyed lunch are when we plan to meet up in the cafeteria with fellow Coke interns we have met—real middle school style: meet at the table to the left by the big window, three away from the freestyle machine (that they, as engineers, are helping make updates to). It is just kind of refreshing to be around college students for a few minutes, even if they are from GA Tech. Strange how that works.

Funny how midnight seems soooo late when you are waking up at 7am each morning and working a full day! Good night, moon.