We never had bottled water in the house when I was a kid. Public drinking fountains were found everywhere. When we went hiking I filled up a canteen with water from the kitchen faucet (I still have my green army surplus model). I was familiar with bottled water a la the office water cooler but I have to admit I didn’t really “get it,” why pay extra for water in a bottle when one was already paying for water available from the tap.
My introduction to single-serving bottled water occurred back in the 1990’s. I frequently traveled to visit clients all over Southern California which is a large geographical area to cover so I spent a lot of time in my car.
It all Started in Palm Springs
One day I had driven to Palm Springs, during the summer, to work on a project. Back in those days, we dressed formally. For women that meant business suit or dress (maybe a pantsuit), pantyhose, and heels. After the meeting, I got back in my car which was probably about 125 degrees inside and made the mistake of touching the steering wheel before the air conditioning had a chance to cool it off. I noticed my favorite lipstick had melted into a red pool on the console. It was really hot.
I was on my way out of town when my pager when off. Yes, you read that correctly, we all wore pagers so if there was a crisis on a project or a client had an urgent request, the office could contact us. This was way before smart phones so that meant either calling from a client’s office or finding a pay phone.
The 3rd pay phone actually worked, so I stood there in the 100+ degree heat, wearing a white linen suit, pantyhose, and high heels. I don’t remember what the issue was but by the time the call was done I was dripping in sweat. I got back in my car and started down the highway. Those of you familiar with the road between Los Angeles and Palm Springs will know there is virtually nothing until you get to Fontana (at least back then there wasn’t). I was in the middle of nowhere and suddenly I was thirsty. By the time I found a place to stop to get something to drink, I was tired, hot, cranky, and parched.
I did two things soon after. One, I bought a car phone. At that time mobile phones were large rectangular things that were carried around in a small suitcase and they were very expensive. The car phone I bought cost about $800. It was mounted on the console in between the front seats, there was a black box mounted in the trunk and an antenna on the back window. The thing about a car phone is that you had to sit in the car to use it so I spent quite a bit of time in my car sitting in parking lots and talking on the phone. It was useful as now I could communicate with clients and the office and take care of client’s needs quickly. Also, I never had to look for a pay phone again.
The second thing I did was go out and buy a six-pack of bottled water and put it in the fridge. I made a point of never leaving the house or office without a bottle of water. After a few weeks, I started washing the bottles and filling them from the water faucet in my kitchen. I just couldn’t see spending money on bottled water. Periodically I’d buy another six-pack, put it in the fridge, and pull out a new bottle of water when I lost the cap or the whole bottle. That was then…