When we bought our 2010 Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen TDI, our fond hope was that we would have it for at least ten years. That’s one of the great things about diesel engines, Dave told me after much research. They can go forever. And a diesel that was also clean-burning? At last, technology and principles aligning! Then some stuff happened.
I brought home new coffee from the co-op. I cut open the top, hoping it would smell like Peet’s. It smelled good, but not as good as Peet’s.
“This smells good,” I said, shoving the bag at Dave and hoping he would say it smelled as good as Peet’s.
“Mm,” he nodded appreciatively. “But not as good as Peet’s.”
“Nothing smells as good as Peet’s,” I allowed, tossing the fair trade, people-supported, beautifully-designed packaging, perfectly good-smelling co-op coffee under the bus.
BUT THAT’S NOT HOW THE VOLKSWAGON SCANDAL HAS CHANGED ME. NO. IT’S WORSE.
“It’s a certain sweetness,” Dave mused.
“They all have it…” I added, looking for the right sweetness identifier.
“…But I can tell them all apart,” Dave clarified.
“Me too! I would totally know if I was drinking Major Dickasons versus Garuda,” I claimed, though secretly I wondered, would I?
NO, THAT’S NOT IT EITHER. IT’S DEEPER AND MORE INSIDIOUS.
“Each Peet’s blend is distinct, but they that all have that…” Dave paused.
“… something,” he finished.
It was a quiet, blissful moment that would have been otherwise unremarkable…
EXCEPT FOR WHAT HAPPENED NEXT.
“We need to either get to Peet’s or go back to the subscription service, though it feels too expensive,” was what I was about to say.
BUT SUDDENLY AN IMAGE CAME INTO MY HEAD.
At the Peet’s coffee factory, during the roasting process, workers pour the requisite amount of the synthetic extract “Peets No. 7” into the vat. This chemical cocktail was developed after much market research and consultation with a French aroma company operating out of a shell corporation in China. They’ve calculated exactly how much Peets No. 7 must be added to each batch to create the proprietary brand nose-feel experience while maximizing ROI. Too much and people will suspect foul play. Too little and they won’t find it compelling–they’ll abandon Peet’s for the stuff at the Co-op. Or Folgers. Or maybe Peet’s IS Folgers with Peet’s No. 7 added. HOW DEEP DOES THIS GO?
Old, pre-Volkswagen me would scoff.
Of course Peet’s is different, the coffee itself is better, Peet’s started in Oregon and everyone is pure there. They just wouldn’t DO that.
New, post-Volkswagen me isn’t even shocked.
I just nod dismissively, “Yeah, they probably would,” and pour the co-op coffee into the canister with the rest of the Peet’s because why bother.
Ditto Trader Joe’s “Gluten Free” Waffles, So-Delicious “Vegan” Ice Cream, Room and Board “Made in America” furniture, “eco” bee thermostats, all recycling…