Vending Violence! General Nonsense 21 MAR 2008

Vending MachineWhen vending machines work right, then they are a tremendous source of joy and customer satisfaction, particularly when you are working an all-nighter and want something to drink at 2am in the morning and no normal shop is open or close by to the labs.

I favourably remember the trusty old vending machines on the bottom floor of the Computer Science building that served many a snack and beverage to the munchy student during all weird and wonderful hours that we used to find ourselves stuck in the computer labs.

And then with my move to the Commerce faculty, the vending machines at the bottom of Leslie Social Science became my friends and I spent many a coin pilfering their uncountable snacks and drinks. Ah, good times, good times.

When they work that is.

Sometimes the vending machines are so popular that they get emptied almost immediately after being filled and then stay that way for at least a week or two. Or sometimes it is the coin box that gets full and won’t except any new transactions.

And then there is my own personal pet hate: The vending machine that breaks down and doesn’t tell you that it is broken. Take Thursday morning for instance. I feel absolutely kak but decide to drag myself into work anyway. After struggling through the short walk up from my car, I arrive at upper campus in a pool of sweat and decide that I need a drink from the vending machine ASAP. I open my wallet and voila, I have coins to burn!

My first R5 coin gets gratefully accepted by the coin slot, only to disappear with a thunk and fail to register as having been accepted but at the same time NOT appearing in the rejected coin slot. Okay, so now I am pissed off. My next R5 coin is successful, showing up as credit on the machine, as does my follow-up R2 coin which comes to the grand total of R7 credit. Eagerly depressing the Coca Cola button, the machine informs me that the Coke is sold out. No problem. I’ll have something else then. Except that all the drinks I really want are empty! Damn it!

No problem, I’ll just hit the coin return button and try a different vending machine. So I bash the coin return toggle, kick the vending machine and swear a little to make me feel better, but all to no avail. No matter what I do, I’m not getting my money back. So I finally find an option that isn’t sold out, namely a Minute Maid Breakfast Punch juice. Grumbling, I accept the can and kick the machine once more as it fails to return my R1 coin change.

Pissed off that this can of something I really didn’t want in the first place has now cost me R12, I open it, take a swig… and recoil in disgust as I realise that it is one hell of an old can because it has somehow managed to even lose its fizziness! Icky!

*sigh*, guess that is why they always say that change is inevitable… except from a vending machine.

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About Craig Lotter

South African software architect and developer at Touchwork. Husband to a cupcake baker and father to two little girls. I don't have time for myself any more.