Monday, December 01, 2008

Come Back! We Can't Let This Vending Machine Defeat You

Down in the vending lounge of Ballantine Hall, I'm waiting behind this fellow who is buying something from the candy machine. I am here to spend one of my last two dollars from my $21 allotment I have allowed myself for attempting the Food Stamp Challenge this week. I forgot to bring my candy that I bought from the grocery store, so I figured what the heck, I still have two dollars, why not spend 80 cents of this fortune on a candy bar.

So the man in front of me makes his selection and then makes a frustrated moan, because an unfortunate-but-not-completely-unavoidable scenario in the vending machine world has just taken place. Yep.

The coil didn't spin enough to make his Skittles drop down.

But here's what is totally weird - the guy just gives up. He starts to walk away, with his Skittles just hanging there on the coil. It looks pretty shakable to me. I've certainly shaken my share of vending machines (but more about that later*).

This guy appears to be a grad student (I'm guessing the English dept.) in his late-to-mid-30's or so. Not your typical Skittles buyer.

He seems to have ceded defeat. The man has given up. He throws his arms up in disgust, and is about to walk away.

Now, I don't feel like a man's man very often. I rarely feel like a proactive dude's dude, but the way this guy was giving up was just really not okay to me. Unacceptable. This was a perfectly good pack of Skittles. I had to step in. You can't just leave those Skittles there. Someone could just come and take them!

"Hey, wait, I think we can get those Skittles" I said to the man as he tried to escape the scene.

I put my hands on the machine. I sized up the beast, assessing the vending machine's height, width, and girth. This was very doable. I shook it. The bag of Skittles were already pretty much hanging by a thread. I shook like a violent soccer hooligan. And down they came. Victory.

The man reached in, grabbed his Skittles, and then just kind of walked away. He didn't say thank you, and it turns out he really didn't have to. I didn't have too much time to think it was weird of him, because this time feeling like a total warrior was its own reward.

For those of you who know my history well, you probably saw this footnote coming from a mile away:
*The act of shaking a vending machine to get a lodged item loose is something that occupies considerable cognitive real estate in my mind, because my high school friend Fumiko Chino was trapped under a vending machine before school one day. She was trying to help someone get their candy out, and she shook the machine too hard, it fell on her, she was not seriously injured. Naturally, stories like this are the things that American high school** gossip gold are made of, and this incident was propagated to mythical proportions within about an hour of its taking place. If my highly selective memory serves me, the machine tipped over onto her, and Amber VonErdmannsdorf (sp?) ran to Mr. Meister's room, and Mr. Meister came back and lifted the machine off of her. The next day there were large brackets affixed to the vending machine that held it to the wall behind it. It was now unshakable. If your candy didn't spin out, you were screwed.

Surprisingly enough, Fumiko's incident has not deterred me from fighting for my vending machine purchases. It actually made me more interested in shaking vending machines. Odd, I know. Maybe it's because it's the closest I ever actually get to Raging Against the Machine.

** I have gradually come to the conclusion that American high school is about the closest most of us will come to an actual battlefield in our lifetimes. And my high school wasn't even that bad! It was mostly brainy Asian and Indian kids. Apparently, it's not actually as much like a battlefield at highs schools in other countries.


Cousin David said...

Tisherself said...

How do I not know you in this tiny little burg? I really enjoy your blog.

Crystal said...

haha! I had an ex-bf get his arm "crying" stuck in the claw machine at waffle house. He struggled a while until a clever friend pushed the flap up to release his bicep. Kinda like a finger trap. I think there is a picture on the internet somewhere...

kari said...

Speaking of Rage Against the Machine, remind me to tell you a story sometime about Tom Morello and pancakes.