Before I started working at [Private Hospital], my only knowledge of Tab soda was from that scene in "Back to the Future" where Marty, newly transplanted to the year 1955, orders a Tab at the diner and the wise-cracking diner owner tells him that he can't give him the tab, he hasn't ordered anything yet. I figured that Tab, much like Max Headroom and Ms. Pac Man (Pac Woman?), was an artifact of the '80s that no longer existed outside of the vaults of collectors and connoisseurs of rare discontinued sodas.
Not until I started work at [Private Hospital] and opened the fridge in the physician's dining room for the first time did I ever see a real can of Tab. It was there, amidst the Cokes and Sprites and little cartons of milk. The Tab cans were packaged in a long box of a dozen. The box was open. And it was half empty. People were drinking Tab. In the year 2008.
I figured that the hospital must just have a monstrous stash of Tab, stacked in some basement vault, amassed sometime in the mid-80s and which they were bringing up box by box until all the Tab was gone and they could buy some more normal soda, like, I don't know, ginger ale or something. But the Tab kept coming up. Every time the box would near empty, another would appear, sometimes even two boxes at a time. And people kept drinking it. I saw it with my own eyes. They would bypass the Diet Coke and go for the Tab. What the hell? I THOUGHT DOCTORS WERE SUPPOSED TO BE SMART.
The first time I tried Tab--purely out of curiosity, mind you--I hated it. It had a cloying, strangely chemical taste. I know that all diet sodas are chemical-y and it's not like I think Diet Coke is some kind of ambrosial brew, it's just that I am used to the chemicals in Diet Coke, and to me, Tab tasted, well, weird. But then, a few weeks later, I had another one, because that day at lunch, all the other sodas were either not restocked, or warm. And then another one a week after that, because there was a line in front of the fridge and it was the only can I could easily reach. And another a few days after that--I hardly even know the reason.
And now I like Tab.
So this is why I can now never stop working at this hospital. Because so far as I know, it is the only place on Earth where Tab still exists.
(And yes, I know that Tab contains caffeine, but despite the fact that I am pregnant, I have not totally cut out caffeine, even though yes, I read that article in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology too. One, because I believe that caffeine, especially in the latter half of one's pregnancy, and in moderation, is not going to kill anyone. Also, the fact that when I was a Peds resident, the fact that we actually used to directly administer caffeine IV to our preemies as a treatment for apnea and bradys has probably removed some of the stigma of deadly baby-killing caffeine for me. This is all very logical and sounds like the reasoning of a rational mind, but the real reason is--I already had to cut out a shitload of things from my diet in the interest of a healthy pregnancy. If I cut out all caffeine too, I WOULD HAVE NOTHING. So let me drink my weirdly retro Tab.)