The vending machine gods

As the nights have drawn in and it’s become too dark after work to even think about paddle boarding, I’ve started doing roller derby. I mean, “doing” is a strong word. I’ve started being in a room where roller derby is happening while I’m also wearing skates. Realistically, though, I’m spending a lot of time on my bum as people swerve around me.

My roller derby days entail taking a huge and very heavy backpack full of skates, pads, mouthguards, and all sorts on my bike every morning. Then, after work, I pedal like the wind to catch the train from Falmouth to Truro. Then I cycle from Truro to practice (Get me calling it “practice” like I’m on my feet long enough to practice anything).

It’s a logistical nightmare for someone (me) who can sometimes be found to be lacking in the ‘logistical skill’ department.

This week I forgot to bring a water bottle. It’s a big thing for me because I hate using plastic bottles since I now live so close to the sea I can basically feel it judging me. I knew I had to suck it up and buy some filthy plastic, because I get thirsty (READ: Sweaty). And sometimes that thirst is for liquids rather than attention.

After a manic day at work I had to race straight for the train so didn’t have the chance to stop at the shops. I arrived at practice (there I go again) with ten minutes to spare, and it takes ten minutes to get tooled up and convince myself that I haven’t totally forgotten how to skate in the week that’s elapsed since our last practice (seriously. I’m stretching it now). So, I decided the vending machine would have to wait until after.

Once I was done celebrating the fact that I only fell over twice in a whole session I limped back out to the machine. I was so thirsty I was about ready to tear it open. I put £1.20 in without reading front, but nothing happened. I needed £1.30. Fine. I didn’t have 10p, but I had another pound and I was about ready to sell my body in exchange for any drink, so I had to suck it up.

I put my next pound coin into the slot and it clattered straight out of the little hatch at the bottom. Of course. I took it out, scratched it a little bit on the side of the machine, which I think I do because I saw it on TV once and I have no idea why it would help but sometimes it seems to, and put it in again. It clattered out at the bottom. I scratched a different part of the coin on a different part of the machine. Clatter. Clatter. Clatter. Annoyed, I hit the coin return. It was time for plan B.

My money didn’t come back.

Not only was I annoyed about not getting a drink, I wasn’t even going to get my £1.20 back. I was so thirsty. I pummelled the coin return a few more times for good measure, but it did nothing except help to bring the feeling back to my hands after having my wrist guards strapped up too tight for the last hour.

Next to the vending machine was a drinking water tap. If I’d had my bottle I’d have been fine. Instead, I contemplated trying to squeeze my head under it. There wasn’t enough room. In a fit of desperation I pulled out a tupperware that had contained part of my lunch earlier in the day, filled it with water, and downed it. It was a bit carrot-stick-y but otherwise fine. I just prayed nobody from the advanced derby team would see me.

Stealth water gulping accomplished, I returned to my vending machine mission. Now it wasn’t so much about getting my drink as it was about damage limitation. My money was still in there. I tried to overpay a few more times. I smacked the coin return as hard as I could. I contemplated being the kind of person who’d go to the reception desk to complain about a vending machine, but I realised I’d pay at least £1.20 to never have to do that.

I was about to give up when I spotted that the neighbouring vending machine, which I had previously ignored because it only does sweets and nobody wants a Caramac when they’re super-thirsty, had 10p waiting to be claimed.

I scoffed as I hit the coin return. There was no way this was going to be the answer. I was still judging myself for my blind optimism as the 10p landed with a clink behind the little change door (you may have noticed I don’t know many technical vending machine terms. I don’t know how I get through my days.). I picked it up, practically trembling with excitement.

I was getting a coke.

I used my ill-gotten 10p piece to make sure that my other money wasn’t wasted. I feel like that might be some kind of investment analogy. Or, at least, it’s an inspirational tale of one scrappy, slightly-bruised girl who’ll drink carrot water out of a used tupperware before she’ll go and request a refund from a human.

Either way, I obviously have the vending machine gods on my side. I need to work out what to do with this new power. Maybe I can get them to put the Ribena cartons back.

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