I’ve been thinking a lot these days about inflection points. To me when I use that term it means that things were carrying along one way, kind of holding steady, and then they suddenly flipped. A point of change was reached and that change was sudden. Like an off switch was hit.
There was a thread on a similar idea on Twitter recently about the transition to cold water in the ocean that had this same general concept. This idea that you’re one thing until you’re not.
I’ve been thinking about it in terms of personal and social change. Let me give you an example of personal change.
I’ve been a proud drinker of Coca-Cola for thirty years now. There were some years there when I went for Diet Coke with Lime, but for the most part I am a fan of the good old-fashioned Coca-Cola with all the calories and sugar and caffeine. And no amount of people telling me I’d get diabetes (I didn’t) or that it can clean a quarter so think what it does to your insides (which who knows is maybe true, it’s certainly good at fixing a corroded car battery) could make me stop drinking it.
There was a month in college where my mom was taking a psychology class and offered me a dollar a day for every day I didn’t drink Coke where I stopped drinking it to make that money and then immediately went back to it when the experiment ended. But for the most part I’ve been a steady drinker of Coke my whole adult life.
I once calculated during my freshman year of college that I was drinking the equivalent of fifteen cans of Coke a day, but in more recent years I’d mellowed out and was down to two a day.
Until the pandemic hit and I had a big, physical move that required a lot of sweating and energy and I jumped up to five a day.
I was fine with that. Drinking Coke is a lot better than becoming an alcoholic or some of the other unhealthy stress-relieving activities I could engage in.
So Coke is arguably my main addiction and has been for my entire adult life. To the point that my drinking glasses are Coke-themed (thanks to my mom).
But today at the store I decided not to buy any. Not because I don’t want it, I do, but because I just hit that point where I was done with their recent shit.
Their recent pricing changes were more annoying to me than the joy I get out of consuming their product. (And after all these years it’s not so much joy as habit and a certain reliability. The bite of a good cold can of Coke can’t be beat, but it’s not something you relish when you drink one five times a day.)
See, pre-pandemic I could go to the grocery store the week of a major holiday and get four 12-packs of Coke for $10. Sometimes I might have to settle for 4 for $12 or 3 for $11, but that 4 for $10 deal was consistent on major holidays.
AND if I bought them at King Soopers I could buy 12 or 16 at a time which would last me until the next holiday.
Not anymore. The last year or so there’s been a limit of four per transaction. And the regular price for a twelve-pack of Coke is now something like $8. So even when Safeway does a buy 2, get 2 deal, which sounds really impressive, it’s $4 each!
I wouldn’t have begrudged them a move to 4 for $11 or even 4 for $12 as long as I could still stock up. But this?
It made me decide that maybe it’s time to switch over to something healthier. Maybe I’ll try straight-up water. Out of the tap or with my handy little Brita filter.
I would’ve happily consumed Coke until my doctor told me not to for my health, which had yet to happen in thirty years. But I don’t know. This just feels shitty all around. (And it’s impacted by the fact that most of the inflation we’re seeing right now is actually caused by corporate greed. Raising prices while they can and reporting record profits. Well, guess what, I didn’t need that product after all it turns out. Oh, and I like Shell gas stations, but not going there anymore either. Enjoy your record profits assholes.)
This flip of a switch and sudden change in behavior happens all the time in all sorts of circumstances. The pressure builds and builds until little things that were tolerable or okay or good enough suddenly aren’t anymore.
Like in a relationship. You can be going along thinking to yourself, “well, they do X and Y, but…it’s fine” until suddenly one day you’re like, “I can’t do this anymore. I have tolerated X for the last time. I am done.” Boom. Over.
Whole systems and lives can collapse from one little extra weight on top of an already unsteady system…
I don’t know how you see that coming as a business or an individual. Maybe you just don’t take it for granted? Or try to see how far you can push? Or take the short-sighted view that doesn’t encompass the entire relationship?
I don’t know. Maybe people like me who get pushed too far and just wash our hands and walk away without looking back are rare enough that we shouldn’t be the ones who determine decisions.
(Although I will say that I’m generally the one that taps out on an author or TV series about two books or a year before most people do, so I suspect folks like me are actually the proverbial canary in the coalmine…)
Anyway. An interesting thought to be having on an election day that could have profound impacts for this country I live in.