The 89 Cent Solution

goldSome refer to sugary soda beverages as “liquid candy.” I say they’re wrong. It’s liquid gold. “There’s gold in them thar self-serve dispensers!”

The history of soda portions is super-sized fun. When introduced by McDonalds in 1955, a cup of soda weighed 7 oz. By 2012, however, a 12-ounce soda was considered “kid’s size.” McDonalds, Wendy’s and Burger King all rolled out 42 ounce size single-serving potions called, respectively: Supersize, Great Biggie, and King Size. Since, then, however, those paltry portions have been dwarfed by the Mega Jug at KFC (64 oz), the Beast at ARCO (85 oz), HuMUGous at Kum & Go (100 oz) and the Team Gulp at 7-Eleven (128 oz).

Are you noticing a trend yet? Your keen scientist brains should already be extrapolating future results. My linear regression line indicates that by 2042 a single-serving size will be approximately the capacity of a backyard swimming pool. I call this the LaGrange Point of Soda Evolution. We’ll have achieved something truly special when we’re actually able to swim in our serving sizes.

The point is: We’re a thirsty lot.

With all this in mind, a construction worker name Christopher Lewis of North Charleston recently was having lunch at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center in Charleston, S.C. He went to the self-serve soda dispenser and got himself a soda refill. And, by doing so, prompted an improbable chain of events that has irrevocably changed the face of law enforcement as we know it. It makes the Twinkie Defense look like child’s play.

Behold the power of liquid candy.

The problem? According to the hospital, signs in the cafeteria were “making it clear that refills aren’t free.” In fact, they cost 89 cents.

Our hero, Lewis, claims he never “noticed” the signs. (We’ll be using air quotes in this story to denote complicated examples of legalese to help inform the reader. -Ed.)

After filling his beverage receptacle a second time (no confirmation yet on the volume of contents) Lewis turned to walk away when his arm was unexpectedly nabbed. It was the Chief of Police!

We now reenact the scene which we assume went loosely like this:

“Are you going to pay for that refill, buddy?”

“Who are you?”

“I’m the chief of police.”

“Aren’t refills free? That’s news to me.”

“They ain’t free, creep. Note yonder sign? They cost 89 cents.”

“I never saw those signs before in my life. In fact, I do this all the time. I’ve had lots of second cups here and never paid for none of them.”

“Bad move. We’ve got you now.”

“Wait. I’ve got 89 cents. I’ll pay for it. We can still make this right.”

“It’s too late for that, creep. Take him away.”

Lewis was then held in a room, against his will, where he was issued a ticket for “shoplifting.”According to the hospital Lewis became “verbally aggressive” during the encounter.

It turned out this wasn’t just any kind of shoplifting. It was the special kind. The kind that occurs when the victim is, oh, I don’t know… The Federal Government!


Our hero.

Christopher Lewis. (Our hero.)

Thus the punishment had to fit the crime. For stealing 89 cents Lewis was fined $525 and barred from returning to the premises. But wait. That’s not all. Since he’s a construction worker and his job happened to be at that very same hospital, he could no longer perform that function. He also reportedly lost his job.

Cue the whining like a stuck pig. And yes, after the story went viral (how else would I know about it?) the hospital has decided that only a warning will suffice. Lewis no longer has to pay the $525 fine. He’s still squealing to any media willing to sensationalize this story that his brain job loss is permanent.

Someone tried to reach someone else regarding something but they were not available for comment.

By now you’re probably asking yourself, how has this changed the face of law enforcement? Good question, creep.

After all, for years criminal masterminds have been going into fast food restaurants, ordering “water” then secretly filling up at self-serve with delicious soda, the life-giving nectar of the gods. But at what cost to our society?

You’ve probably heard that “ignorance of the law is no excuse.” Why is that? Even though Lewis, by his own admission, had eaten there multiple times in the past, he never noticed the signs. Wouldn’t the legal system work so much better if that was a sound defense? It would certainly reduce work load on the system.

Ignorantia juris non excusat

Latin, translated, which means: “Ignorance of the law does not excuse.”

Trivia: This is the origin of the word “ignoranus.”

“I didn’t see the sign.”

“Oh. Our apologies. Sorry to have bothered you, sir. You’re free to go.”

“I forgot to pay my taxes.”

“I forgot armed robbery was illegal.”

“I’m having an old friend for dinner with some fava beans and a nice cianti. Chit-chit-chit-chit-chit!

Gosh, I can’t imagine why ignorance of the law isn’t a sound defense. But that doesn’t help our poor hero Lewis much now, does it?

Thus, we arrive at the second legal defense espoused by our legal genius/construction worker: The guilty must be given the chance to “make things right” especially when they get caught.

To help spread these new legal concepts across the land, I propose that the phrase “protect and serve” emblazoned on police cars everywhere be replaced. I suggest: “We’ll hold the guilty accountable only upon their own request.”

After all, what could possibly go wrong with a system like that? Further, I propose that when Lewis is the victim of armed robbery in his home we use that as the test case. I wonder if those criminals will be willing to claim they didn’t know armed home invasion robberies were illegal? And, once proven innocent by their own admission, they’ll be free to sue Lewis if, for example, they got cut on one of his broken windows. He really should get those taken care of.

4 responses

  1. I find it hard to believe that they just wouldn’t let him, you know, pay for the extra soda. Letter of the law versus spirit of the law and all that.


    1. Why? You dare ask why? 🙂

      Using game theory, the analysis is exceedingly simple. The stratagem? Never pay for refills. Why? Because, if you get caught, they’ll just let you pay for it.

      The only way to lose in a system like that is to be dumb enough to follow the rules.

      He may be a construction worker but he’s exceedingly brilliant. A true master of game theory.


      1. I guess that’s idea behind that it’s cheaper to park illegally than pay for parking if the ticketing frequency is low.


      2. Now you’re getting into the meta game. Go even deeper. It’s a lot of fun!


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