The other day, I was unloading a 12-pack of diet Coke cans into my refrigerator, and about halfway through the package pulled out one that felt… wrong. I couldn’t have told you why at first; something about it just wasn’t right. I froze, can in hand, hand halfway to the refrigerator shelf, trying to figure it out. Was the can mushy? No. Bulging? No. Dented? No.
It was light.
Lighter than the rest, by about a third. And if you turned it over, it made more of a sloshing noise than any other the other cans. I assume that what’s happened is just that the can-filler failed to fully fill the can, but there’s nonetheless, if you’ll forgive the pun, something uncanny about it. I put the light can on my countertop, and keep picking it up every time I pass by, checking to make sure that I wasn’t just mistaken, that the can is really less than full.
I’m not sure why this has me so unnerved. It has something to do with the failure of the machinery involved, which isn’t supposed to fail. But beyond that, there’s a nagging sense that if the machinery can fail to fill the can, it could also fail to prevent something else from getting into the can, something that shouldn’t be in the can at all. And right behind that is the thought that perhaps my can isn’t two-thirds full, but fully full, just with Something Else.
So part of me is wondering if I’ll ever work up the nerve to open the can and find out. And part of me just doesn’t want to know, thanks.