Right. This is going to be a rant. A hypoglycemic rant as it goes. A veritable raging hangry rant.
I’ve just found out what the most effective way of getting a hungry person off on a rant. It’s a vending machine that just eats money. Yes it swallows it whole and refuses to regurgitate a snack. A vending machine in a station late at night with no prospect of nutriment between here and Glasgow. (With here being Dundee).
And not only that, Ladies and Gentlemen, a jobsworth station employee with his jobsworth flourescent tabard and his hipster beard.
It’s the perfect storm.
So I put in my £1 in and it swallows it. I exclaim to noone in particular that the machine has stolen my money and a man standing along the platform looks round and says “it stole my money too”. So we drag the aforementioned station person over to the machine and he says “not my responsibility mate”
“But it’s swallowing everyone’s money” said the man.
“Can’t do anything about it mate. I can’t touch the machine” says the beard.
“You could put a sign on it” I suggest. “It would stop that guy chucking his money into it” I say, pointing at another man with his coin poised over the slot.
“DONT PUT YOUR MONEY IN THERE” we shout at him in unison, he looks startled and scuttles away.
We turn back to the station employee
“I can’t touch the machine, it’s not station property” he says.
“Would you be able to touch it if you wanted to buy something from it?” I ask, genuinely interested in his philosophical position. “What about if it were about to fall and crush your granny, could you touch it then?”
“I can’t help you” he continues increasingly desperately.
“Ok” I say “How about you just stick a wee notice on it. You don’t even need to touch the machine. Just stick it on with blue tack or double sided sticky tape.” I am beginning to get slightly manic in my sugar-deprived state.
I decide to take direct action and switch the machine off at the wall.
“You can’t do that” the station man says
“But you haven’t touched it and I solved the problem of you being complicit in this fraud”
He switches it on again.
I spot a couple of policemen with a group of drunken football fans and march over to get their legal advice.
“Is the train station responsible if that machine is committing fraud? And they know it and refuse to shut it down or label it out of order?” I ask.
But I don’t have time to hear the answer. The train has pulled in and I have to sprint up the platform to fetch my bike and jump on. Switching the vending machine back off again in the dash.
But just as the train fires up to leave I spot a man with a beenie hat and a forlorn looking collie dog on a lead by the vending machine. He has switched it back on and is poised to put some money in once he has decided on an item. I throw myself back to the closing doors of the train and shout. “STOP. Don’t put your money in there.” He turns to me with a look of mild surprise then turns back to contemplating the crisp selection.
“No it will swallow your money. I turned it off to stop people doing it”.
He now looked as folorn as his dog, “Really? Will it definitely not work? I’m so hungry I actually feel like putting the money in anyway.” He said as the doors closed and the train pulled away.
By now I really REALLY need some food. But what are the chances that there will be a snack trolley on board.
But miraculously there is. And I even find enough cash, despite the criminal vending machine, for a packet of crisps and a twix.
Back at my seat as I munch happily away I contemplate submitting the conundrum to Radio 4s “Moral Maze” to solve. I imagine Michael Burke’s soporific voice
“And today on Moral Maze we are discussing the agency of an out of order snack machine.
Stay tuned in while we put the case to the panel”