Tim Whyte | The Straws Are Hiding with the Porno Mags

By Tim Whyte

Signal Editor 

One of my habits is that I like to stop at my neighborhood Circle K every morning and get a 44-ounce iced beverage to get me through the day. 

It’s sort of a slow caffeine drip. 

The vehicle of caffeine delivery used to be diet soda, but I’m trying to be a little more health-conscious, so a year or so ago I switched to iced tea. They have good iced tea at the Circle K. I can’t say it’s served me any better than the soda did, health-wise, but I feel less daily guilt about my iced tea than I would if the drink had bubbles. 

So I stumble in there on my way to work, pack one of their “Polar Pop” cups with ice and fill it with tea (unsweetened, because sweet tea is gross). I pop a lid on the Polar Pop, grab a straw, pay $1.97 for the tea and a lottery ticket and I’m on my way. 

But a couple weeks ago, something interrupted my routine. 

The straws were gone. 

Now, thanks to new laws and ordinances courtesy of the state of California and Los Angeles County, we have to “request” a straw at the front counter. 

You know. Because so many of us have been taking plastic straws and walking them directly to the Pacific Ocean. 

Yes, yes, I know. There’s a percentage that becomes pollution and I don’t mean to completely dismiss that. But dammit, my straws end up being disposed of properly. I don’t want to put plastic in the ocean any more than anyone else does.

Further, I’ve tried paper straws at a restaurant or two, and they’re fine. I’d have no problem if the entire straw-making industry switched from plastic to biodegradable paper. So I’m not here to defend plastic, per se.

But I am here to stand up for straws.

Now, since we apparently can’t be trusted with a foot-long plastic tube, convenience stores are hiding the straws back there behind the counter with the cigarettes, chewing tobacco, porno mags, condoms and other things that require an extra barrier between them and the common man. Or man-child. 

I’ve joked with the clerks. It’s not their fault, after all. 

“Can I just give you guys a letter saying, ‘I hereby request a straw every day, Monday through Friday, for the calendar year 2019’?”

They seemed a little uneasy, like they weren’t sure whether I was serious, kidding or just plain scooters-cuckoo-crazy. 

So every day, I’ve been asking. And to their credit, the clerks at the Circle K have dutifully followed the rules imposed by the nanny-state that is becoming California and Los Angeles County. 

I’d considered it a minor inconvenience until the other day. I was in a rush to get to the newsroom so I hurried through my normal Circle K process. Got the Polar Pop cup. Got the ice. Got the tea. Snapped on the lid. Paid for it.

And I ran out. Straw-less. 

What does the government expect me to do? Suck on the hole?

That’s the rub on a 44-ounce tub of icy goodness. You really need a straw. 

I guess that won’t be a problem for long, though, because Sacramento Democrats, who want to regulate and tax everything that can possibly be regulated and taxed, have their eye on my 44-ounce Polar Pop, too. 

There’s legislation pending in the state Capitol that would prohibit the sale of any “sugary drink” in containers larger than 16 ounces. 

That, obviously, shouldn’t include my unsweetened iced tea. However, if you or anyone else wants to pound 44 ounces of syrupy, sugary soda, should it really be the government’s place to tell you that you can’t? Isn’t that particular bad choice yours to make, not Big Brother’s?

There’s some serious legislative overstepping going on in Sacramento and the proposed ban on large sodas is just the tip of the iceberg.

Further, it’ll have ripple effects even on those of us who don’t drink sugary drinks. After all, if it comes to pass that 7-Eleven can’t sell a Super Big Gulp of Mountain Dew and the Circle K can’t sell a 44-ounce Polar Pop filled with Coca-Cola, would those outlets bother to continue stocking the 44-ounce cups just so Tim can get his daily iced tea fix?

Probably not. 

So there I’d be. If California gets its way, I’ll be pulling out of Circle K toting a 16-ounce cup with no straw. It’ll spill all over the place, because I’m sure lids will be the next thing to go. And it’ll probably cost the same 97 cents I’m paying for the big one now.

I won’t stand for it. I don’t know how, but we need to find a way to stop Sacramento’s increasing intrusions on individual decision-making. 

If California wants to take my Polar Pop, they’ll have to pry it from my cold, dead hands.

Tim Whyte is editor of The Signal. His column appears Sundays. On Twitter: @TimWhyte.  

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