Friday, September 04, 2009

Pound in the machine

Talking of tuck shops and vending machines yesterday reminded me of one of my favourite school time events: the trapped pound in the vending machine. Let me explain.

To stop pupils leaving class rooms mid-lesson to go and buy food from the vending machines they were set on timers so they only worked during the allotted break times of 11:05 – 11:25 and 12:50 – 2:10 (the machines, not the pupils, obviously).

However, the 20 minute gap in mid-morning break often meant a queue and a crush at each vending machine (there were only two!) and if you arrived there at 11:24 you took a huge risk that sometimes you’d enter the money, only for the machine to then ‘lock itself’ with your shiny, hard-begged for pound trapped inside. Additionally, the machine would proudly display that it had £1.00 inside for all to see. This unfortunate child would have to return to lessons, knowing the entire school was learning, through a series of Chinese whispers, lesson to lesson, that there was a pound trapped in the machine, ready to be spent by the first pupil to arrive at the machine at 12:50 when the machine decreed snacks could be bought once again.

However, lessons before lunch ended at 1:15. The 12:50 unlocking time was because sixth form pupils on free period could take lunch from that time. Still following? Good. This meant at 12:48 all across campus, cheeky little sods were sticking their grubby mits in the air, asking teacher to be excused for various reasons, and hurtling like mad towards the vending machine - usually along side the one, true, heir to the pound in the machine, who would never again be so foolish as to attempt to buy Nik Naks at 40p at 11:24.

Good times.

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