In the past two days I’ve lost $3.70 to the vending machines in my office. I’m not as concerned about the actual loss of the money as I am about the loss of faith I now have in our machines.
Just to make sure you’re not sitting there saying, “Mikey, you’re a freaking idiot. Quit putting money in a broken machine.” You have to realize that I lost this money in three different machines on three different tries.
The first loss was a dollar. I wanted to buy an ice-cream bar. I put my money in and noticed that only one of the three options had the “please make another selection” light fired up. That indicated to me that I should not select this item, but rather, one of the other two. So I did. As the little machine whirred I lifted the door to watch the empty slot that should have been holding my delicious frozen treat come into view.
“Drats!” I exclaimed. I was foiled. Oh well, I thought. It happens. I went back to my desk disheartened but I quickly got over it.
Later that afternoon, looking for a little 4 o’clock sugar rush, I went back to the machines. This time I stayed away from the ice-cream machine and decided to take the traditional approach and get some candy. I eyed a bag of Runts as my mouth drooled with anticipation. I slid my 70 cents into the machine, pressed the buttons for my selection, and stood horrified as I watched by bag of Runts get caught up in the corkscrew device that is supposed to send my bag of sugary goodness hurtling to the retrieval bin at the base of the machine. I shake the machine lightly. Nothing. I shake the machine more vigerously. Nothing. I pick up the goddamn machine, body slam it to the ground, climb up on one of the other machines and leap from it like I’m Superfly Jimmy Snuka. Nothing.
I put the machine back, straighten my clothes, and walk away dignified, but defeated.
Today I return to the kitchen. I’m hungry and am now eyeing the turkey and cheddar Lunchable box that is in a third and completely different vending machine than the other two that have already played me for a sucker. I put two brand new dollar bills into the machine. At first it doesn’t want to accept one of my dollars. I wince as I think about yesterday’s problems. The machine finally accepts the dollar along with the second one. I reach up to slide the door that will grant me access to the midmorning snack that I’m so craving.
The door won’t budge. It’s just stuck there. I look at the message indicator on the machine and it’s telling me that I have supplied insufficient funds for that selection. According the the machine, I haven’t actually put ANY money into it.
“Fuck I haven’t!” I yell at the machine much to the dismay of the cookbook team that’s having a meeting behind me. I try to coax the change return button to give me back my two bucks, but it will do no such thing. I stand there for a moment, dazed. I’m completely confounded by what has just transpired. This is my third consecutive attempt to purchase something from our vending machines, only to be denied.
I can’t help but wonder what the significance of this is. Do the machines know something I don’t? Are they prophesizing my release from work? Are they telling me I should lay off the snacks? Do they know that I’m broke as it is and they just want to laugh as they blatantly steal my money giving me nothing in return? Is one’s inability to successfully navigate a vending machine an indication that one has no soul? Could I be souless? Or is it that these machines are trying to take over the world, and they’re gonna do it by raising money by stealing from me!
I don’t know what the answer is, but whatever you do, do not activate SkyNET.
(SkyNET is a Terminator reference. Research it if you don’t get it.)