I am addicted to caffeine. I am particularly addicted to caffeine that comes in the form of a cola, or near cola. I say this, because I love Dr. Pepper and since it is a cola color, approximately, I'll call it a near cola. Besides, this is my website. If you want to call it something different, get your own site!
I'm not admitting to the caffeine/soda addiction as step one of any sort of "Caffeine Anonymous" program, either. I have absolutely no intention of quitting. I've already bent the rules enough to switch to diet drinks, but that was just because I was getting tired of unsatisfactory trips to the dentist. So, a couple of years back, I switched to diet drinks. Problem solved.
No, I tell you of this addiction to set the stage for the following ridiculous tale (queue film noir music):
It was late one recent afternoon. I was at work. Most of the staff had gone home. I was needing a soda. Now, when I say I was needing a soda, I was NEEDING a soda. So, I made my way down to the first floor to our soda machine, pulled out my wallet, and discovered that I only had a five dollar bill.
The machine didn't take five dollar bills.
I believe that my cries of anguish could be heard throughout the building. I stopped and thought, did I really just do that out loud? Sometimes I scare myself.
It seems like I remembered one of the soda machines near the cafeteria took five dollar bills. It wasn't thatfar away. If I was lucky, I could make it before I was completely consumed by the thralls of caffeine withdrawal. I made my way to the cafeteria soda machines, hoping the image in my mind of the five dollar bill accepting machine wasn't a mirage brought on by my caffeine withdrawal delirium.
Once I made it to the machines, I peered closely at the dollar bill acceptor. NEITHER MACHINE TOOK $5 BILLS!!! I was careful to make sure the cries of anguish stayed in my head, this time. I still had a small amount of self-control left in me.
Somehow, through my teary eyes and around my swollen caffeine deprived tongue, that was plastered embarrassingly to the corner of my mouth, I noticed that the snack machine did indeed take five dollar bills. I had no need of a snack, but if the machine took five dollar bills, that meant it would give change!
Life is good!
After my shaking hands mashed the bill up against the machine a couple of times, I finally straightened it out and the machine accepted the bill. I looked at the snack offerings. They were all weird! What's with that? All the bags were like a casserole of snacks. I hate casseroles. Finally, I located a normal snack...a bag of pretzels. I keyed in the code, got my bag, and waited for my real prize - the change.
I could feel another wail coming on, when suddenly the torturous machine started making some whirring and grinding noises. I think my change is coming! I REALLY REALLY need that soda, now! The first coin finally drops into the change cup, then bounces out, rolls around a bit on its edge, and rolls under the machine!
This is not so good.
As I drop to the floor, trying to see if I can retrieve the single coin the evil machine had so graciously bestowed on me, the other change starts coming. That change also starts flying out of the machine, some landing flat on the floor, other coins rolling. Way too many are rolling, some actually head directly for the underside of the machine like it has cheater's roulette magnets under there. This machine is sick! "Why are you doing this to me!" I say to the machine. Actually, I think I said some other things, too. I also think I said them out loud.
I think this, because as I was scrambling around on the floor trying to scoop up my coins as they rolled around like $100 bills in one of those wind tunnels you see on TV, wailing at every one I missed or that I batted under the machine, I happened to notice a woman standing near me.
"Is everything OK?" she asks. I'm thinking to myself, "Can't you see what's happening here? Does everything LOOK OK?!" I peeled my parched tongue off of the side of my mouth and started to try to explain how I only had a five dollar bill and then the one machine didn't take the five, but I thought these did, and I nearly died trying to get here, and then only the snack machine took the five, but it didn't give me the change at first, and then when it did, but it was shooting change all over the room and it was rolling back under the machine and I NEEDED TO HAVE THAT SODA RIGHT NOW!
But, I stopped myself somewhere just before the "almost dying" part, thinking correctly that as I was thrashing around on the floor chasing quarters and nickels that telling this story probably didn't make me appear entirely sane. So, I gave the response any American man would give to any woman: "Everything is fine!" What this really means is, "Back off, woman, I've got this under control." Clearly, I had nothing under control, though.
At this moment, the last coin shot out of the machine, as if it was waiting for me to tell the story. It rolled under the machine. I may have let out a small, hopefully inaudible, sob. I don't know.
I scooped up what change I had saved from this snack machine from Hades, and put it in the soda machine. Now this soda machine was one of those Rube Goldberg soda machines that has a glass front, so you can see all the drinks sitting there in a neat array. There is a little platform that moves up and down to the level of the soda you select, the machine pushes the soda onto that platform, the platform then returns to the level of the little dispenser cavity, then a conveyor belt on the platform switches on and dumps your precious soda into the dispenser.
That's what is supposed to happen. In this case, absolutely nothing happened. At all. Well one thing happened - after a seemingly endless wait, the display on the machine switched from the "VENDING" indication back to the "ICE COLD SODA - 1.15" display. This machine was not giving me anything. NOT EVEN MY CHANGE. I pounded on the coin return button to no avail. I wailed. I totally didn't care if I was wailing out loud anymore. I seriously considered looking for a fire extinguisher to put through the glass of the machine, but I was sure that I would end up looking like the bad guy here. The devil machine had me. I think I heard an evil laugh somewhere in the background. It could have been one of the machines, it could have been the woman, it could even had come from me. I was rapidly losing my grip on what was real and what wasn't.
I had to leave before things got worse. Clearly, my life was at stake. With my head pounding, my parched tongue newly glued to the opposite side of my mouth, I took my remaining change and crashed through the door - heading back to the original soda machine in my building. Let the woman deal with those evil machines. I'm no hero!
I somehow clawed my way through the snakes and scorpions that for some reason were now filling the hall on the way back to the first machine and fought off the images in my head that were like those dreams you have where you are desperately trying to get somewhere but your feet can find no traction. Indiana Jones has nothing on me! With palsied hands, I put coin after coin in the machine, praying for a miracle as the other coins in my hand clattered to the floor around me. I pressed the Diet Coke button...and the machine delivered the soda without an incident.
I opened the soda and took my first big swig of icy caffeine goodness. Relief at last! It's possible the sky opened up and angels could be heard singing. I don't know. I was focused on my soda. As I headed back towards my office, with the pounding in my head abating and the once trembling hands now calm, I thought of the stares of the woman that I could feel on the back of my head as I escaped the evil snack area. I hoped the machines were merciful and at least brought her to a quick end. Selfishly, I could only think of one thing as I sipped the ice cold refreshing carbonated caffeine...I mean beverage...
Life is good!