The bottling plant.

One of my favorite things to do when I was a kid was go work the graveyard shift with my Dad while he went around the Twin Cities and fixed broken or malfunctioning vending machines. They would often get jammed or people would try using slugs and then they would have to call Coca-Cola and Coca-Cola would send out my Dad. I had no idea that a whole world of activity took place at night when all good boys were asleep. I loved going ‘behind the scenes’ of campuses and athletic gymnasiums. My favorite part of the entire night would come when we would have to go back to the shop. The repair shop my Dad worked in (when he couldn’t fix a machine in the field) was located in one of the giant warehouses at the massive Coca-Cola bottling plant. We would have to walk past impossibly high towers of Sprite and Mr.Pibb. After what seemed like 2 blocks (and it probably was) we would arrive at my father’s section. It had every tool imaginable. It had hoses hanging from the ceiling that were connected to giant air compressors and it had vending machine guts everywhere. At the back was a virtual museum of vending machines! Every old vending machine you can imagine or remember was located at the back of that warehouse shop. Rows and rows of strange fountains and cigarette machines. Neon, glass, and nostalgia all placed side by side in neat rows that filled the entire back portion of that dark warehouse. I have the memories of doing that 3 times with my Dad, but there is only one time that sticks in my mind. A single moment that I cherish. And it isn’t even anything. I was in the middle of all those old machines. I had to be around 10 or 11. They didn’t run lights over the old stock, only up at the bench where my Dad worked. It had to be around 3am. He was working on whatever, listening to old radio shows on WCCO. I was just standing in the dark watching him work. I realized in that moment that I didn’t know my Dad. Not really. He kept himself to himself, and it hit me while I stood in the dark and silently watched him work.


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