Saying ‘never’ good way to wind up being wrong

BY BOB WACHS, Columnist
Posted 6/2/21

Through the years I’ve tried to avoid making too many absolute statements.

It’s not that I don’t have some basic core beliefs that, while maybe open for conversation, aren’t open for …

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Saying ‘never’ good way to wind up being wrong

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Posted

Through the years I’ve tried to avoid making too many absolute statements.

It’s not that I don’t have some basic core beliefs that, while maybe open for conversation, aren’t open for change.

Rather, it’s that I’ve come to realize that the saying which I heard for years before experiencing it myself is true — namely that you ought to keep your words soft and sweet because you never know when you might have to eat them.

So I don’t often say or use the word “never,” as in when I was a boy I noted to anyone who would listen, “You’ll never catch me eating turnip greens.” The transformation in my taste buds is complete and today, I often order them when eating out.

Through the years, however, there have been a few other similar revisions of behavior associated with “never.” I once was given a pink dress shirt which I vowed never to wear but which I did, since it was a gift, a time or two, before accidentally spilling ink or gravy — I forget which — across the front of it. And it really was an accident.

And then my uncle was the local Ford dealer and it was sort of family tradition that we would never drive anything other than one of his offerings. Today we have a Dodge and not too long ago drove around in a Chrysler. I hope he wouldn’t be upset with me if he were still around.

The list could go on for a little ways, but of all the times “never” crept into my vocabulary the biggest reversal came about over the issue of bottled water.

Water is, of course, a necessity for life and still, I think, in most places fairly plentiful. The folks in Texas might dispute that but around here we’re not all that close to running out. Water used to be that thing that was always “free,” as in no charge for it. Restaurants would give you a glass; there was no charge if you had it with your meal.

I’m not sure who the fellow was or exactly when it all started but sometime since the Spanish-American War somebody started putting water into plastic bottles and selling it for a quarter or 50 cents or whatever they could get for it. Soon entire industries were busy bottling it and selling it in containers from one-swallow size to office dispensers.

For a while there was the general feeling that some bottles that said “Crystal Clear Mountain Water” on the label, complete with a picture of a waterfall from somewhere, was actually tap water out of the Newark, New Jersey, water system. And maybe some of it was early on but I don’t think the Federal Trade Commission would or did allow that.

As the interest and the acceptance of it grew I often said, “I can’t believe people pay a dollar for an 8-ounce bottle of water. My grandfather or my father wouldn’t believe it. I’m never going to buy a bottle of water.”

I still don’t think they would but I can’t make that statement any longer.

Actually it’s been awhile since that fateful day and while I still don’t do it much, I have done it — that is buy a bottle or two ... or three .. or more, depending on how hot and/or thirsty I was.

I still remember the event. We were at a theater while on vacation watching a play. The show was long; it was the dead of summer and the heat must have been a gazillion degrees, both outside and inside, perhaps as an incentive to buy some water. At intermission, sugary sodas just didn’t seem like a good idea so I gave in and bought water. Kept the empty bottle for a long time. Couldn’t believe I’d done what I did.

I don’t give it a second thought now; I’ve bought water out of the cooler at the convenience store as well as the 24-pack on sale at my favorite grocer. But I am working on a project along those same lines, a business venture that, if successful, will bring me untold fame and fortune.

I call it “Air in a Jug.”

See, the deal is the air is already in there; I don’t have to bottle it. I just can’t figure out how to market it.

But I don’t think a couple of dollars per jug is too much.

Do you?

Bob Wachs is a native of Chatham County and retired long-time managing editor of the Chatham News/Chatham Record, having written a weekly column for more than 30 years. During most of his time with the newspapers, he was also a bi-vocational pastor and today serves Bear Creek Baptist Church for the second time as pastor.

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