From time to time, I drink bottled water.
And yes, I do feel silly, thanks for asking.
Yes, I know that it’s just someone else’s tap water, no matter how many times advertisers mention clear mountain springs. I know that the only requirements for entering the water business are a case of plastic bottles, a garden hose, and audacity. I’m aware that I’m paying an 88 billion or so percent mark-up. I realize that I’m adding to a growing pile of refuse that doesn't need to exist.
But when I’m out and about and I don’t want a hot drink or a waxy paper cup filled with carbonated high fructose corn syrup, when I just want something to make me not-thirsty, I don’t make a fuss. I don’t stare pointedly at the sink in plain view right next to the stack of glasses or fast food cups. I don’t point out that I want a drink, not a logo. I cave in to peer pressure, to corporate pressure, to the likely disdain of the person behind the counter and lay down my money to pay for something I could have for free.
We've gotten to the stage that this is becoming a moot point. Free water – in public at least – is very nearly a thing of the past. Once upon a time, public drinking fountains were everywhere. I couldn't tell you the last time I saw one. These days, we have water coolers and delivery men with back braces with trucks full of oversized bottles, and we pay for the privilege, as if we never heard of modern plumbing.
Even in the home, where there are no excuses, we still spring for “the good stuff” and leave the sink for washing dishes. Or we run perfectly safe and clean tap water through a filter to make it gooderer, as if it’s substandard, as if it’s not suitable for drinking unless money changes hands.
So I play along and I buy the stupid bottle, the one that might as well say “Free water inside”, because I’m not buying a drink. I’m buying a brand name.
I’m an idiot, but for whatever it’s worth, at least I’m not a thirsty idiot.