It was his daily inner battle. Here he was again, standing in front of the vending machine in the break room, thirsty, but torn between two choices: bottled water or grape soda.
He was careful to pick a time when no one else was in there, because he'd just feel silly trying to explain that every day it took him five minutes to decide which drink to buy. And he didn't want anyone else to tell him "Hurry up, already!" or "Why not try the peach?" or influence him in any way. This was a choice he wanted to make completely on his own, to know that there was still something in his life that he had full control over.
On the one hand, he knew nothing quenched your thirst like water. He knew because that's what his Uncle Brian, the doctor, always told him so. "Jim, if ever you feel thirsty, drink water. Juice, soda, coffee, whatever else you drink will still leave you thirsty, but water will always satisfy."
At least, that's his uncle said. He knew that it made sense, that water was the healthy choice. And this was the new, more grown-up Jim, and grown-ups should make the healthy choice. But today, he skipped breakfast (because even though adults should make healthy choices, they don't ever eat breakfast), and he could feel the emptiness in his stomach asking him if lunch was soon. And nothing was worse than the feeling of cold water hitting the walls of an empty stomach. It literally was like a kick in the gut. A painful reminder that indeed, his stomach was empty and water could do nothing to fill it.
On the other hand, he really loved grape soda. Growing up it was his favorite drink. He rarely drank soda as a kid. "It rots your teeth and gives you cavities," his parents always said. So the sweet drink was only reserved for special occasions. He remembered promising himself that when he was grown-up, he would drink grape soda every day, because after all, grown-ups could do whatever they want.
He knew that grape soda felt good on an empty stomach. It would probably be able to hold him until lunch. And the feeling of that fizz inside his mouth never failed to make him smile. He never had the heart to laugh at Stanley on pretzel day, because he understood that it was the little things that got you through the day at Dunder Mifflin.
Water was the good choice. The practical choice. The choice that Assistant Regional Managers should make. But he really wanted grape soda.
He looked at the clock and berated himself for standing in front of the vending machine for the past eight minutes now. As he returned his gaze to the buttons with pictures of his drink options, his eyes widened as he realized something he had never really noticed before.
There were three buttons for bottled water.
There was only one for grape soda.
He shook his head and smiled to himself as he punched the button.
He made his way over to Karen's desk, feeling the eyes of a certain receptionist grow wide as she saw what was in his hand. He waited till he had Karen's full attention before popping the top of his aluminum can.
"I think we need to talk."