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.