How many times has this happened to you? You’re standing in front of a vending machine, stomach growling, brain unsure of what sweet or salty snack will satisfy your cravings. It’s tough enough to decide with all the choices, but once you do, you pull out the group of coins that has been jingling around in your pocket all day, and start to insert them into the machine. The first one goes in no problem, but the second? Nope, it drops straight into the reject chute. You pull it out and try it again a few times, each with the same result. If it weren’t for the other coins in your pocket, you might be out of luck, but fortunately you have others that you try that DO work, and you finally get that snack. Just in time, too, because your hunger level is approaching “hangry.”
Sounds like a pretty common occurrence, right? Good thing you had those other coins, because if it wasn’t for that, you might be out of luck. But why?
You could have a fake coin (apparently those exist), or what I’m guessing is the more common cause (especially here in Canada since 2012) is that the machine isn’t calibrated for it. See, the machines examine the size and weight of the coins to decipher their denomination. In 2012, the Canadian Mint changed the formula for loonies and toonies, making them lighter, which threw off tons of machines across the country that wouldn’t accept the new coins.
Apparently modern machines also use magnets to determine what metals the coin consists of, so even if you have a fake coin that’s the proper size and weight, if it’s not the right metallic makeup, it’ll still get rejected.
If you’ve ever been curious to see how these machines do all this so quickly, check out this video:
This video covers another anxiety-inducing part of using a vending machine. Once you navigate the coin-deposit phase, next you have to try and get your snack out without it getting stuck. Apparently there’s frickin’ laser beams now to guarantee you get your snack, which is huge.
I can’t help but wonder where those laser beams were 4 years ago when this happened to me:
— Ken Elrick II (@DrPatchbeard) March 20, 2012
It was rather late one night when I pulled into the car wash to give my car a little spray down. While I normally don’t really care either way about it, for some reason I felt inclined to get a terrycloth and wipe the car down after I was done. You can imagine my delight when I discovered the vending machine there sold them! That delight quickly turned to frustration when it got stuck though. It was late enough that there was nobody else around, but a camera was fixed on the vending machines watching my every move. I turned around to face the camera, pointed to the stuck towel, shrugged and raised my arms, and then turned around and began lightly pounding on the plexiglass front. By the time I was done, the towel hadn’t moved at all, but all the jostling had caused a couple other small products to fall down into the prize chute. They were glass cleaning wipes, if I recall correctly. I guess it was nice consolation, but it wasn’t what I really wanted.
But it could have been worse. It could have been a machine that taunted me eternally…
And even worse than that is a machine that literally crushes your dreams right in front of you:
The way he yells “NOOOOOO” gets me every time.
But if it weren’t for the bad times, we really wouldn’t appreciate the good times.