Talk about a big mistake. Coca-Cola came under some well-deserved fire recently when a woman found a horrible message printed inside the cap of her Vitamin Water bottle.
Blake Loates of Canada opened the bottle, screwed off the top, and read the words underneath it: "YOU RETARD." She told Metro news that she and her husband were simply shocked. While anyone should have been appalled to see such a message, Loates said it hit her particularly hard because she has a younger sister -- Fiona, 11 -- who has autism and cerebral palsy. "The R-word is just something we don’t say in my family,” she said.
When Loates told her father what happened, he was livid. She said he stayed up all night writing an impassioned letter to Coca-Cola, the manufacturer of the drink. He wrote:
... this single action, this small word printed on the bottom of a Vitamin Water lid, discover by my daughter in Canada, has inspired me to tell you just how much the "R" word hurts. How destructive it is. How caustic. How uninformed. How isolating. Like the "N" word.
He ended it with a picture of his daughter and a P.S.: "Here is Fiona. Can you imagine if SHE had opened this bottle?" His anger is absolutely understandable, and I find it vile how often and freely people do use the "R" word. I hear it all the time from people who are otherwise "politically correct," but for some reason think this one is okay. It's not.
In the case of this bottle cap, however, it truly does seem to be an honest mistake, albeit one than should have been caught. Coca-Cola has offered an apology, and said that it's part of a promotion that displays a random English word followed by a random French word. In France, "retard" means late. You would think someone would have been smart enough to catch this, but at least they have taken action, apologized to the family, and destroyed all the remaining caps they have.
Dave Thomson, vice president of still beverages for the company said:
We have learned from this and it was a mistake. At no point in time did we intend on offending anyone by any stretch and we have cancelled and moved on and have dealt with this as soon as possible.
So good for them. That's really all you can ask for in a situation like this. And if there is any good to come from the incident, hopefully it's a strong message sent of just how hurtful this word can be.
Do you hear people using the "R" word regularly?
Image via THOR