The Vending Machine God


Herman: The Sandwich God

Herman: The Vending Machine God

It’s lunchtime on Thursday. The place is abuzz. Students milling about, others on the way to class. Faculty walking to classes or offices. Administration rushing around in an attempt to keep the whole operation from crashing. I weave through them with determination. I have a meeting with a vending machine.

When I arrive, the machine is unoccupied. Despite the activity buzzing around it, nobody is peering through the window at the sandwiches in their cubbies.

I take out my 50 Koruna and approach.

The last two days I have put 50 Koruna into this machine and selected a ham and Dijon sandwich (code 52, 47 Kc). And both days I have received both my ham and Dijon sandwich and all of my money back. Day one I figured it was a fluke, but when it happened again yesterday, I realized that the Vending Machine God was showing his face. Today is day three.

If the Vending Machine God (Herman) pulls the same trick, I think it’s safe to say that he is showing me favor.

I’ve developed a number of crackpot theories. Mostly I keep these theories to myself and their main function is to allow mindless explanations of things that piss me off or scare me.

One of these theories (and probably one I should keep to myself) is that every single thing has its own God. Everything. There’s a God of Airplanes, a God of Library Books, a God of Whiteboard Markers, and a God of Celery. There’s a God of Trams, a God of Pizza, and a God of Supermarket Checkout Lines. (It might seem that one God should be able to oversee both supermarkets and supermarket checkout lines, but since both things have an equally massive volume of aggravation and frustration to let loose on the human race, the God of Food-Related Gods thought it best to delegate these frustrations to two gods.)

The gods’ jobs are to relegate their object’s interactions with people. Sometimes the gods are good to people and sometimes they are cruel.

One guy has never bitten into a piece of pizza without burning the roof of his mouth, no matter how long he holds off. Another guy realizes that he has always stumbled upon a hidden leftover slice of pepperoni in the fridge. One lady has perfected the art of arriving at a tram stop just in time to watch the tram disembark. Another lady has always noted the friendly tram drivers, who seem to wait with open doors as she saunters up.

Different gods favor different people.

Some of the gods whose favor I am in (most of the time) are:

the God of Erasers, Undercooked Meats, Ink, Lost Pens, Bus Schedules, Aerial Wildlife, Laundry, Landlords, and Distributive Weight Gain.

Some of the gods whose favor I am not in (most of the time) are:

the god of Shoes, Trams (mostly with available seating), Flat Renovation, Whiteboard Markers, Supermarkets, and Supermarket Checkout Lines.

The Gods of Supermarkets and Supermarket Checkout Lines are especially cruel to me. I have never walked into a supermarket not swarming with people. Often very old people. Usually I feel as though I have stumbled into a senior’s shopping hour.

It doesn’t matter, since any checkout line I choose will experience a major problem the moment I step into it. Otherwise conscientious cashiers have inexplicably mispriced things the moment I’ve stepped into their lines. New, reliable machines break down. A woman in front of me in line who has been shopping every day for two decades will today somehow forget to weigh her vegetables. Others misplace money and credit cards. There has never been another human being to witness as many price checks and misrung items as I have.

It is my supermarket fate.

It’s OK, though. Because other gods even things out. So after the God of Supermarket Checkout Lines kicks me in the shins, the Tram God will delay a 9 tram thirty seconds to allow me catch it after work.

It all works out.

Now, as I approach the vending machine, is about Herman. I look through the window and realize the first glitch: no ham and Dijon. I scan the other options and decide on a tuna and egg sandwich. I enter my money and hit the code.

It’s then that I realize the ham and Dijon is already in the dispensing bin at the bottom. It’s been waiting for me! I reach down and pull on the handle, which forces the ham and Dijon to wedge itself into the corner. The tuna sandwich drops against the ham sandwich and they perch there against the window. I am confused.

After closer inspection, I realize that the ham and Dijon was not in the dispensing bin, but rather above the bin trapped in vending limbo. Now the tuna sandwich is on top of the ham sandwich and they sit out of reach and mock me. I look around at the room filled with students, teachers, and university administration. A couple of students recognize me and wave. I flash them a sheepish smile that says: Oh, it’s about to get embarrassing in here. Because there is no way to shake a vending machine and look sane.

I shake it. Once. Twice. A lot. The sandwiches hunch together closer and wedge themselves tighter against the glass. A boy behind me sees my sandwich interaction and steps up next to me. He shakes his head. Then we each grab a side and shake the machine. Nothing. The roomful of people watch. He explains that he’ll get the chicken and pepper sandwich above them in slot 18 that might knock them loose. The sandwich drops past the stowaways with no problem. He shrugs and walks off unwrapping his lunchtime ware.

The guard comes by to help, but it’s to no avail. Some of my students are looking at the whole scene, and I want to tell them that I sort of deserve this, but there’s no point. I smile with a red face, knowing that Herman has made his point. I am paying the bill.

I leave the school and go to the supermarket next door. I do the math.

Free: Two ham sandwiches, eaten.

Paid: One tuna sandwich, unattained.

Interest: unattained tuna sandwich blocked by third ham sandwich

Verdict: Even.

The Supermarket God and the Supermarket Checkout Line God are pissed off and cruel. The supermarket is a mess. It’s senior rush hour, senior shopping hour, or whatever. It’s as though a BINGO game just exploded. They are aggressive today, too. The supermarket checkout girl takes her break as I step into line. Her replacement loses her entrance code. The woman in front of me has lost her coupons. She apologizes as she looks through her massive bag.

I tell her it’s OK. I deserve this.

The Gods have spoken.

Now, things are even.

  1. #1 by angela t. galeone on October 25, 2015 - 11:33 am

    This is hilarious–added on to my all time favorites!

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