Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Woman vs Machine

The jalapeño chips called to me. Loudly. From three hallways away.

"I go great with peanut butter and jelly," they said. "And I'm way cooler than that banana."

I held out as long as I could. At least five minutes.

Finally, shoulders slumped in shame, I stuffed a dollar bill into my pants pocket and snuck out into the hallway. Empty. I could feed my spicy-salty-greasy craving without an audience.

"Now equipped with Golden Eye," the sign read. "We guarantee that you will receive your product."

The machine slurped my dollar with a whirr. I punched the numbers. 126. And I waited.

Gears turned. Change fell into the coin return slot. The long metal spiral turned, nudging the green bag forward. And it stopped.

My jalapeños hung in midair, trapped by the shelf above.

No problem, I thought. I will just buy two. There will be more peanut butter tomorrow, which will go nicely with more chips. I strode with purpose back to my cubicle, and found another dollar.

Whirr. Slurp. Punch. And I waited.


Now two bags of chips hung, caught on the shelves, and perhaps trapped by the oversized bag of cheesy corn in the next slot over.

I considered my options. I'm too short for an effective vending machine wrestling match. I couldn't even budge the thing. The dispenser drawer was nicely theft-proofed, so there would be no reaching in with an arm. Not that my arms are four foot long anyway.

I could taste defeat, and it didn't taste like jalapeños.

Studying the problem, I perked. The cheesy popcorn. If I played my cards, er, dollars right, I could have two bags of chips and cheesy popcorn.

Back to my desk. More money. I was out of dollars, and had to count dimes from the bottom of my purse. Back to the machine. Clink clank clunk. 128. The popcorn nudged forward. The bag bulged out of its slot.

And held.

I sucked in my breath preparing to scream.

And then, with a faint rustle of plastic, the two bags of chips fell. They landed safely in the bottom bin, and I clutched them to my chest in glee. Chips!

I would have skipped back to my cube. But I didn't. The chips were spicy. And salty. And greasy. And they tasted heavenly with peanut butter.

As for the popcorn, it hangs there still: a silent warning to all who come after me.

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