There I was, standing in front of the vending machine at my office.
Granted, I should never eat crap out of a contraption that's had the same dusty package of Lifesavers on the bottom shelf since I was hired two and a half years ago. But every once in a while, the dreaded vortex of hunger, laziness, and spare-change-having gets the best of me, and I find myself plunking coins into the slot again and waiting like some gorilla for a precious little package to be corkscrewed off its shelf, descend through the sweet, sweet atmosphere behind the window, and fall with a seductive thud into the prison-like bottom area.
I do, however, draw the line sometimes in life. Today is such a day.
They occasionally restock the machines with new and different treats to beguile us, though it's never anything really new or good. They'll throw some weird yogurt chunks into the "Mr. Nature Trail Mix," which is its actual name if you can believe it, or they'll take away the Milky Way and replace it with a Baby Ruth. (I've yet to meet a living sole who likes either.) But standing there today, I noticed that a new kid has moved onto the block--or rather into quadrant C5.
His name is Cakesters. Oreo Cakesters. Before I saw anything, I did what marketing and PR firms are paid to make me do. Namely, press my drooling face against the vending machine window and gurgle. AAAaaggggh...Cakesters...New, bright package....Aaaaggghhh....I read the front of the package like it was a William Carlos Williams poem.
So soft. So
delicious. So three.
It was a big package. It practically towered over the other candy bars on its row. Like the annoying yuppies who move into the neighborhood and rebuild their row house into a big, gawky modern architect's wet dream. I thought to myself, "That's a lot of soft, delicious Oreo for just seventy-five--Whoa!...[rubbing my eyes] A dollar? Are you shitting me?"
That's right, folks. It was $1.00. One US American not-as-strong-as-it-used-to-be motherfucking dollar. It was by far--and by "by far," I mean "by a quarter"--the most expensive treat in the machine.
Perhaps our dollar is weak. Perhaps the price of oil is high. Perhaps China is mad that Bush spoke to the Dalai Lama, and perhaps Oreo has perfected the snack treat and would like for me to dole out an additional quarter to experience a new and exciting taste phenomenon. I will never know sadly, because after reading the price--the numbers could barely fit in the alotted space--I lost my appetite.
I walked back to my desk and thought about America. I thought about how the vending machine display case is a microcosm for the culture at large. The dusty Lifesavers who've been on the block for ages can no longer keep up with the price hikes. They've since moved out and will soon be replaced by packages of designer gum. Eclipse. Orbitz. Or some other word from your high school Astronomy book's glossary.
I could even feel the solidly middle-class Twix bar looking over with envy, hatred, and self-pity at the Cakesters:
"'Three soft, delicious cakes.' But I'm just two caramel and chocolate cookie bars...[sniffle]."
Don't worry, Twix. There are some people that still got love for you.