Timothy Freeman is a walking advertisement for his own product.
"I grew up on Coke," he said, never stopping his rhythmic motions as he pushed fresh bottles of soda onto the rack at a Wrightsboro Road convenience store. "I still remember going to the store and grabbing those little bottles to drink."
He dips his head, flashing the Coca-Cola logo on his baseball cap. Outside sits the "red Cadillac," the big truck loaded with cases of Coke, Sprite, grape drink, fruit juice, water and more.
Mr. Freeman is in the middle of a busy day that started shortly after 6 a.m. He'll make about 15 stops today, delivering drinks to convenience stores and drugstores on his route along Wrightsboro Road and Gordon Highway.
He has been working full time for Coca-Cola for about 2« years, after earning a business degree at the University of South Carolina-Aiken in 1994. Before that, he delivered Coke during his summer vacations.
He has plans to move up in the company.
"I've got to start out just like everyone else does - driving the truck," he said with a grin.
Driving the truck means following a day behind an advance salesman, filling orders and hauling cases of heavy soda. It also means being a salesman yourself. Drivers receive commission for sales they make. They keep up with paperwork and promotions.
"There's all kinds of stuff involved in the business," Mr. Freeman said. "Presentation is everything. When you put stuff in barrels, people buy that on impulse because it's cold and it's there. So barrels are good marketing. You've just got to be willing to think a little bit."
Mr. Freeman works a conventional route, delivering sodas mainly to convenience stores. Other drivers may stock machines in offices or deliver drinks by tractor-trailer to grocery stores.
The work gives him a chance to meet people, said Mr. Freeman, who admits he talks a lot - sometimes even to himself.
"You make friends with a lot of people," he said. "I worked in Louisville (Ga.) for a year, and it was a long drive, but I met some real nice country people. I always thought I liked the country routes more because of the people. But I like Augusta, too."
Now, he's busy stocking 12-packs of Coke at a drugstore, his back to a similar Pepsi display. He runs into the Pepsi delivery guy sometimes, but they don't come to fisticuffs the way drivers do in commercials, he said with a grin.
"Hey, he's doing the same job I am," he said. "I don't have a problem with him - unless he parks in my spot."
Subject: Timothy Freeman, Coca-Cola delivery and salesman
Training: Mr. Freeman earned a business degree from the University of South Carolina-Aiken, but a college degree isn't required to work for Coca-Cola. Drivers get two to four weeks of on-the-job training and are given a manual of standards and practices. They also must pass a driver's license test for the classification that allows them to drive the heavy trucks.
Years in field: 2 1/2, plus five years part time
Best thing about job: "It's not the same thing every day. I'm outside, working by myself, with nobody standing over me, telling me what to do. I'm not pushing buttons or sitting behind a desk."
Worst thing about job: "I hate having to get up early every day. I've gotten used to it, but I don't like doing it."