25 March 2011

Litmus Test

So there I am, barely 25, at the hospital. Waiting to see if they're going to admit me to the mental ward overnight. But I don't know that yet. All I know is it's damn near 4:30 AM and I need coffee. So I deposit 50 cents into the machine and press "coffee, regular." (As a side note, never ever order chicken soup from one of those things. It tastes like I imagine the Gowanus Canal must taste, though I've never tested this hypothesis.)

Rumblings from within. Vending machine crane-arm noises. Suspense: the little light goes on. It thinks. I wait.

Creamer squirts out of the nozzle onto the grate. Eight ounces of tepid coffee follows. The cup clatters down, useless, onto the mess. The door opens.

I'm blinking at it. This is not quite what I ordered. Well, it is, but not in the order I ordered it. So I dig out 50 more cents and try again.

Creamer squirts out of the nozzle. Eight ounces of coffee descend in a putrid, infuriating stream. The cup comes down on top of it. Empty.


I'm on the verge of tears. Instead, I kick the vending machine. Say some choice words my longshoreman grandfather taught me.

Resident comes by, all arrogance and flapping scrubs. Scrounges in his pocket, comes up with 50 cents, presses "coffee, regular" just as I open my mouth to say something by way of warning.

But then his cup comes down, creamer squirts into it, and eight ounces of beautiful, perfect, glorious coffee flow into the mix. The door opens. The resident retrieves his coffee, lifts it to me in a half-hearted "cheers" greeting, and flaps away down the hall, innocently slurping at the caffeinated ambrosia being denied to me.

I blink after him. What the hell?

I realise I have 50 cents left. I decide to go for it.

Coffee. Regular. Goddamn it.

The creamer squirts into the empty slot. Eight ounces of coffee blast into space. I consider trying to stick my tongue under the nozzle, but decide I would either get stuck and the resident would have to come extract me, or I'd definitely get sent to the mental ward.

Not to mention the goddamned empty cup would hit me in the head when it was done.

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