Wednesday, December 19, 2007

400 calories of frustration!

I didn't want to eat Pop Tarts this morning. Especially not frosted ones. Let's just make that clear.

What I wanted was a midmorning snack, to hold me over till lunch. The vending machine at the office is set up to function on the building-wide ID card system (you can put money on your ID, and use it in the cafeteria too), but today the little card-reader screen says, "Use bills or coins." Weird, but not a problem, because in the change pocket of my wallet I had, not counting pennies, exactly 85 cents. Which was exactly what it would cost me to buy a small package of Fig Newtons. Perfect! I thought. Then I started feeding my dimes into the machine, and it spit every one back out. the nickels it took, but not the dimes. And I didn't have enough nickels to buy anything. Why does this happen? Is the dime-slot full?

Back to my desk I went, to look for a dollar bill. So much for using up my coins -- now I'll have more. But at least I'll get my filling and marginally virtuous snack of Fig Newtons! Back to the machine, which accepted my dollar bill without a squawk. I punched in my selection, and the machine's readout flashed: "Use exact change."

So let me get this straight: The machine won't accept payment via ID card. It won't accept dimes. And it won't dispense change. And it already ate my dollar. So my choices are: buy something that costs exactly a dollar, or go back to my desk with no snack and a dollar's worth of coins (assuming the machine deigned to give me any money at all). And the only thing in the machine that cost exactly a dollar? Pop Tarts.

Remember that episode of The Simpsons ("Homer vs. Dignity," I believe) in which Mr. Burns thinks he can order aloud from the vending machine? When it doesn't produce the "pound of Bristol's Toffee" he requests, he scowls and says darkly, "You have made a powerful enemy, my friend." That goes double for you, stupid vending machine in this office. Watch your back. As soon as I stop feeling ill from eating those Pop Tarts, I am so coming after you.

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