Sunday, December 30, 2007

Rage Against The Vending Machine

Dear Designated Outside Contractor Food Supplier:

I must give you high marks for the excellent selection of above-average foodstuffs in our cafeteria. The portions are sensible, the service is wonderful, and the prices generally reasonable, except when it comes to snacky bits. $1.25 is not market rate for a bag of M&Ms. A brace of PopTarts at $1.29 is overpriced by almost 40%. This sort of madness drives me to our building's vending machine emporia... which in turn are driving me to madness, and to authorship of this screed.

Who is the crack-smoking numbnuts incapable of competent repetition in the maintenance of a vending machine?

I'm not talking about keeping the damn things online (although the snack vendy just around the corner from the cafeteria is suspiciously "out of service" frequently). I'm also not complaining about the slings and arrows of outrageous Fort.: the bag of chips stuck against the glass, the HoHos clinging, mockingly, to the wire spool exp'lled them. These are merely the manifestations of bad karma which we all experience, the dark cloud which only reveals its silver lining when additional coins are inserted to knock free said HoHos with the resounding thunk of a descending MilkyWay bar. Satisfaction, and twice the snacks.

No, my complaint, thunderous, and my indignation, righteous, is aimed at the methadone sampler whose job is simply to restock the machine with snacky bits and change. Let us start with the change, for as everyone knows, change is good.

If it were me, which it is not, I would value every snack in multiples of 25 cents. Acknowledging that candy prices have risen ridiculously since I was a lad*, surely chips could be 50 cents, candy bars 75, and the Big Hangover Cures (PopTarts, Pound Cake, Danish) a dollar. This sort of price management would mean Quarters-only change. The US Quarter-Dollar being the only reasonably sized and weighted coin o' th' realm, it makes sense to only stock the change mechanism thusly. But no. This being The Big Fancy City, you will have your premium, won't you? 85-cent candy bars. Now you have to involve dimes and nickels... hell, why not just invite the pennies? Or do you have a problem with coins of color?

Having all this Numismatic Affirmative Action going on just results in a bloated system* filled with jams and errors. Many times I have found the vendy on the second floor demanding exact change. Many times I have been so craving a Twix that I have crammed in a dollar bill, here, take it you fiend, keep the extra 15 cents, it's worth it! And been denied. Then there's the fifth floor vendy, which simply lets the dimes fall through, like a hot lesbian sitting alone in a bar. "Nope," says fifth floor vendy, "you can go. My candy is not even for sale."

And that's even assuming the stupid labels are right. I've noticed they're on a little wheel... so that your Depleted Uranium Cranium simply has to turn the price to match the price programmed into the machine. Why then, do the vending machines take on a slot machine air when I buy my Butterfingers? Why is the price 85 cents on one day, and 95 cents on another? Sure, one day it was 45 cents, but that was the day I helped the old lady cross the street AND I think someone else just forgot their change. Probably because they were injured bashing their skull into the glass in frustration.

While I'm discussing labels, why is the burden on me to determine the row and number of my selection? The cafeteria machine, you know, the one that rarely works? Several of the labels are missing... specifically E3, F5, and H0. And why is there a "zero" column, anyway? Are you planning a Vending Expansion that will jeopardize your supply of positive whole numbers? Or are you just showing off your integers, but think negatives would be audacious?

The fifth floor vendy even has some labels misapplied. Yes, I should be able to deduce F3's position between F2 and F4, but it has a E3 sticker on it and goddamn it, I eat out of vending machines... I'm probably hungover and need coffee. Throw me a fucking bone! There is nothing less savage than spending your last 85 (?) cents on a 3Musketeers, only to be rewarded with Good N Plenty.

Why does bottled water cost more than soda?

Isn't water a component of soda? Doesn't it cost more to process that water, add cancerous qualities and caramel color to it, and bottle it under pressure? Whither the price of sugar? Doth it not be high?*

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I've got tears in my eyes and an achy stomach from laughing so hard.

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Jaime said...

This is great! LOL!

Anonymous said...

This writer is an idiot and should consider getting his own vending machines so he can realize how much vedors pay for the product that goes into those machines. You don't like it, bring your own crap from home.

Anonymous said...

our vending machine in our common room if it's not completely empty despite some expired stew crap for a month with 100 students relying on that one machine, it's now filled which is excellent except that it's eating our coins again! >:(

Anonymous said...

our vending machine in our common room if it isnt empty for over a month before they decide to re-fill it, its filled wonderfully only for people to find that its back to eating our money! >:(