At anything over 70% humidity, paper currency becomes as limp as week-old lettuce and currency readers become more finicky than a child during their “I’ll only eat it if it is white” phase.
It goes like this:
The machines nibbles tentatively at your offering, but nothing happens so you wiggle the soft edges, trying to coax it into the rollers.
Finally, a soft tug. It’s like fishing. You jerk the dollar back, tempting the machine to take a proper bite. After much interaction, it eventually does.
The dollar waggles into the slot.
The bill reader clicks its metal teeth while ruminating on your dollar.
It swallows the currency whole but moments later, a rumble rises from within the depths of its mechanical tummy. This is good.
But not really… Phhhtoooo!
Out spits your dollar like a mouthful of force-fed broccoli.
You retrieve it off the floor and meticulously straighten the edges, making sure George is oriented properly before slowly feeding it back in.
The definition of a fool is someone who repeats the same action over and over while expecting a different outcome – which means you have made yourself a fool three times over.
Still, the lure of cold pop trumps the fear of humiliation. You try another bill.
Just as you despair that some things are not meant to be, you spot a nearby candy-machine.
Garishly displaying itself behind a dirty pane of glass like an Amsterdam hooker, sits a bag of Cheetos, offering itself for a mere 50¢.
Hmmm, two dollars for two bags of Cheetos yields four quarters in change for a cold can of pop. That works.
You feed in your first dollar.
The spiral holder corkscrews your Cheetos toward the big drop, but nothing drops. The bag just hangs there, held by a burr of cellophane, mocking you.
Still: clink, clink.
Two quarter rattle into the coin return.
You feed another dollar into the candy machine.
Now two bags of Cheetos dangle out of your reach, mocking you double. Yet you have a dollar worth of quarters, hence the last laugh.
You feed the pop machine.
Clink, clink, clink, clink, brump, thump, rumble, tumble, tud…silence.
Your cold can of pop has jammed somewhere in the clammy bowels of the pop machine.
Hot and frustrated, you locate one of those palm-sized manilla envelops and wielding your pen like a chisel, you scrawl across its face – $2 lost - GIMME BACK MY MONEY, YOU THIEVES!!!. You try to stuff it into a metal box mounted on the side of the vending machine…. but no go. The box is crammed solid with palm-sized manilla envelops.
As you ask yourself, how the world has gone so terribly wrong, little Ms, Sweetness from HR wanders into the cafeteria, feeds a dollar into the pop machine and out comes both her selection and yours. You tell her that the extra pop is yours – but she says no, it’s hers from yesterday.
Then she says, “Oh look, two bags of Cheetos. Watch this!”. She thumps the candy machine with the palm of her hand. The bags fall freely into the trough.
Struggling to contain your temper, you ask what she did to make the machines work – but she just smiles sweetly and winks.
The machines wink back.