My mysterious friend Gary brought to my attention an article in last weekend’s Ottawa Citizen that reviewed a book by Today Show travel correspondent Peter Greenberg. In the article, Greenberg relates a story about Prince Edward Island:
“It was the middle of winter and I was doing a story about seals,” says Greenberg… “We got back to the motel after a day on the ice floes, at about 9 o’clock at night. I went to the lounge and the only thing I wanted was a Diet Coke.
“I asked the waitress: ‘Do you have it in a bottle or can? I hate how it tastes out of the nozzle.’ The next thing I know, she’s dashed across a four-lane highway in a snowstorm to a 7-Eleven or something and comes back with a six-pack of Diet Coke in cans. Now that’s service. I don’t care how bad that motel was, I’d go back there in a second because of that waitress. I’d go back to Prince Edward Island because of that waitress.”
Two things seemed odd to Gary (and to me): first, you cannot buy pop in cans on Prince Edward Island, only in bottles. This is the law. Second, there are no four-land highways on Prince Edward Island.
So, with Gary’s prodding, I decided I had to investiage further. I sent an email to the Canadian Press Editor in Chief asking about this discrepancy. I received the following response:
Thank you for your query about the travel story by Ken Becker. The quote in question was accurate and is indeed an anecdote that was related by author Peter Greenburg to Ken. It’s possible that the anecdote may have been based on an incident that happened so long ago that Greenburg has become hazy on some details, or perhaps Diet Coke was sold in cans there many years ago.I’m not sure whether the issue is resolved or not. I’ll see what Gary says.
Ken also notes that some Americans might call a four-lane road a “highway,” as they refer to their major expressways as Interstates and freeways down there.
I grew up in Prince Edward Island and ever since 1984, canned pop has been banned in the province, and four lanes??? That would be a rare sight, it’s mostly single lane, each way. So your story writer was lying; he was not talking about Prince Edward Island.