The Machine

My office moved into a new building over the weekend, and I spent much of this morning dealing with the attendant hassles: plotting a new bus route, unpacking boxes, performing emergency services on a manhandled plant (“Goddamn it Lucky Bamboo, you never backed away from anything in your life! Fight, goddamn it! FIGHT!”).

The good news is that my new digs has a window that overlooks a courtyard. The bad is that the courtyard is narrow and the window of my boss’ boss is directly across the way, which means he can see my computer screen at any given moment. Currently the only computer game I can play on the company dime is SimSpreadsheet.

To make matters worse, the entrances to the restrooms are identical in this building as they were in the last, except Mens is on the left and Womens is on the right–the exact opposite of what I am accustomed to. Thus, every trip to the can this morning has been accompanied by a 30-second game of “Where’s the urinal?” (followed, 40 minutes later, by “Hello, I’m Your HR Rep!”).

But every cloud has a silver lining. In this case it’s a brand new vending machine, chock full of snacks the likes of which I’ve only hithertofore heard tell of in rumors and legends. Behold!

KitKat Crisp? Famous Amos Cookies? Beef Jerky?! HAVE I DIED AND GONE TO HEAVEN OR AT LEAST PURGATORY WHICH AS I UNDERSTAND IT IS ESSENTIALLY HEAVEN’S RECEPTION AREA AND WOULD THEREFORE BE MORE LIKELY TO HAVE SUN CHIPS FOR SALE?! My reaction to the machine was not unlike that of the apes to the monolith in 2001: fear, followed by awe, followed by tentative touching, followed by the the braining of a boar via femur.

So ensorcelled was I that I made a solemn vow, right there on the spot: I will consume and review each and every item in this machine.

And to make things interesting, I shall do so in random order. After all, I’d hate to wind up in one of those dinnertime dilemmas where you eat all the good stuff and are left with the peas. Not that I need worry in this instance: the caliber of products in this particular machine is so high that there is unlike to be a single bad item in the –

Wait wait wait. Something about this photo makes me uneasy. Let’s get some CSI analysis.

Lower-right quadrant. Enhance.

Now zero in on item 156. Enhance.

Still can’t make it out. Can you clean up this image a little bit?

My god. What have I done?

32 Responses to “The Machine”

  1. Pan says:

    I blew ginger ale out of my nose when I hit the sixth paragraph XD

  2. Liz says:

    Wow, this is a good machine, with lots of range and depth — candy to cup o’ noodles and tuna kit! You lucked out.

    Vending machine poptarts saved my life so many times!

  3. Luv2Spin says:

    I’m hooked.

    You get serious bonus points for the use of the word “ensorcelled.”

  4. Duane says:

    For your sake I hope that tuna’s still fresh by the time you work your way down there. Or that your co-workers don’t decide to “have some fun” and request the vending machine company restock with a selection of prunes, bran muffins and olestra potato chips. On second thought that would be interesting reading……

  5. bhahahaha. Thanks for cheering me up. I have never seen vending machine poptarts in my life. Must be an American thing? I’m from Canada and as kids our family vacationed in Vermont–my brother and I would go insane because it meant we could get Cookie Krunch cereal. That cereal was the highlight of our youth. (not sure what that says about growing up in Montreal.)

    Looking forward to your review on the Skittles. Choice.

    So, congrats on the new vending machine. I may not have quit my permanent-union position with awesome benefits-university job-with pension if we had had a machine like that. You know, so I could find something more fullfilling.

    Excuse me… I need to eat a lot of cereal now. And weep.

  6. LTMG says:


  7. eLLen says:

    Oh my gosh, is the first thing in the second row a Mrs. May’s nut mix? If it is, then that is a high-quality vending machine, indeed. The Clif bar is rather high-quality, as well.

    Hopefully the canning of the tuna is not faulty, because botulism would be quite an end to this saga.

  8. Rune says:

    No wonder you guys are fat!

  9. 2fer says:

    The Holy Grail of vending machine use: Getting two items for one purchase. You must dedicate a whole blog post to this phenomenon.

  10. heather says:

    I hope for your sake that they never put the cheeseburger flavored Doritos in your vending machine like they did in ours. That row went untouched for a couple of months before the guy who restocks it gave up and replaced them.

  11. Tim says:

    It doesn’t look like yours has the instant turkey dinner. I’d check around your building to see if one of the machines has it.

  12. juliloquy says:

    My money’s on the Welch’s fruit snacks being the least desirable item in the machine. I made the mistake of buying them when I was pregnant. What a waste of chewing.

    Fun project!

  13. Gabe says:

    Dang you, Mr. Baldwin. Yet another senseless yet unavoidable blog for my Google Reader. Have you no soul!! Luckily, Yeti is quiet, Twitter is limited in character length, and the Endless Summer has ended. Work, I hear ya, but you’re going to have to wait. Very funny. Very, Very funny.

  14. kip says:

    I am so excited about this. RSS _FED_
    btw, I’ve mistakenly tried that tuna salad… you have fun with that :P

  15. Sabrina says:

    I actually have no problem with the tuna salad kit, other than the fact that it includes diced carrots. That’s sketchy in my book.

  16. brittney says:

    You haven’t lived until you’ve had salami sticks from a vending machine.

    This is gonna be great.

  17. John says:

    ‘Hard to swallow.’


    Not “… a little fishy”?

  18. Andrew says:


    Wait … what …. is that the sound of someone putting on a second pair of sunglasses over the first pair?

    It was exceedingly bright in Miami ….

    … until now.

  19. Bobby says:

    “For your sake I hope that tuna’s still fresh by the time you work your way down there.”

    That’s an interesting turn of phrase you’ve made there.

  20. demondoyle says:

    Um, that’s totally my vending machine exactly. Creepy!

  21. galenb says:

    This is a great idea. I’ve been thinking about vending machines a lot lately and decided that you shouldn’t praise the machine, but the god that stocks it. Whoever this wonderful being is that stocks yours, don’t lose him/her.

  22. Porgen says:

    The tuna looks fine. It’s vacuum packed or canned–these things are designed to last. Why all the excitement?

    And your driveby on the noble cashew a post or two up is pure folly.

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  24. Sam says:

    Is that an all natural, vegan, gluten free, cinnamon bun LARABAR! Have that first! Yum! My favorite!

  25. Keith says:

    I cannot wait for you to get to the Clif bar.

  26. Leslie Goldberg says:

    Gee, I wish I had one of those at my HOUSE. Actually, one in every room would totally complete my decor.

  27. derek says:

    go for the tims! best drunk food ever!

  28. Spitt says:

    Now if only they had some light reading material too. Then you could goto the vending machine right before you hit the can. One a day of that would be interesting reading… err about the stuff in the vending machine, not the can.

    Nice job on relevant info, looks like you really did hit the jackpot with that vending machine. I haven’t worked in a job in a long time that had vending machines.

    @Rune: “No wonder you guys are fat!”
    It’s because we hardly exercise and spend too much time sitting down. Studies show that just the act of standing up a couple hours a day, can prevent you from getting fat – weird, I know. I work 12-16 hours a day. Not much time left for standing/working out.

  29. michael says:

    Thanks for all this goodness Matthew. But I gotta know the randomization method.

  30. Anj says:

    Vending machines make the food look like it’s in JAIL! Free the M&Ms!!!

  31. Kip says:

    i don’t know who you are, but you’re my new hero… i will follow you on this journey for as long as it takes me, and dare i say – as long as it takes us.

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