Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Those Whom I Hate, And Other Fun Things

One five euro bill goes into the machine, and tink – one euro, dronk – two euros, pllink – three euros, clink – four euros, clank - ... ... ... Clank?! Where's my fifth euro?! Change machine, are you – more like steal my money machine! But no worries. This is no time to panic – sure that's the last of your on hang money, and you need all of it to wash your clothes which are getting to about that point, but it's ok – there's a hostel employee right across from you. She saw the whole thing. She'll help you out!

I'd like to take a moment to pause here and note that I hate having to deal with girls in positions of quasi-power. Look, it's a general statement, and not always true – but you have been in a situation where you've experienced the same thing. It's like, when someone tells you to stay out of a certain Barcelona neighbourhood after dark because of all the Persian people there – you want to stand up and cry racism! Racism! But you won't go there. And the people who tell you not to, have very good reason to suggest it. It's always awkward when stereotypes become more truth than fiction. You're never quite sure how to react. With that in mind, I'll continue.

So over I walk to the lovely girl looking far too pretty to be working at a hostel – and here's the thing with pretty girls, people – they are so used to the world giving them things, that heaven forbid they be asked to return something.

Oh no – is this another generalization? Of course – but as we are social creatures, and we are creatures of nurture more so than nature, it's impossible to deny. You've either been the guy telling the pretty girl exactly what she wants to hear – that she's great, that she's smart, that everything she does is wonderful (no matter how stupid or inane the things she says are.) Or – you've been the girl filled with passive aggressive rage watching the flimsy half-human always get things handed to her. If you fit into neither of these categories, take a look at yourself in the mirror. No stop, are you looking hands at your side, or in some sort of pseudo model pose, with certain parts jutting, and other parts pressed back, in some sort of god awful pretzel of audacity? Congratulations – you are the pretty girl.

Now I'm not saying there's anything wrong with this – I'm not saying it's bad to be this person. Hell, I fit into a similar category (far be it for me to suggest I'm a.) pretty, or b.) a girl – but...) When normal people go to a baseball game and end up on the jumbotron, they feel fantastic about it. They feel as if they just had a great special moment. And I'm sure that's how I felt when I was first on years ago. But now, I'm on so often that I feel it's a personal insult when I don't get shown. I know – it's crazy right? It makes no sense. There's no logic. But I've been conditioned to expect I'll be shown, and more often than not I am. Still – this is the irrational mind of the customer service lady I am now dealing with.

I tell her that the machine only gave me four euro back.

She stops what she's doing (watching streaming video from the internet) – takes the gum from her mouth (they're always chewing gum. It helps as a prop when she...) - lowers her eyes at me, head tilted so only half the iris is visible, and says – No it didn't.

Um, excuse me? What. It did. It clearly did, I explain. Look – four euro. There is no four euro bill. I could not have obtained these four coins, which you saw me collect from the machine any other way. I'm clearly lacking one.

Nu-uh. See, the machine doesn't eat money. (it's one of those magic vending machines that never breaks – Oh yes, I'm sure Coca-Cola programs theres to mess up. Big chain like that ha broken ones, but this small hostel – it's is perfect.)

She goes on to explain all that could happen would be for it to run out of coins, in which case it would display the remaining amount in the display. Screw that it would! Where's my bloody money, I think to myself. I smile at her.

No, you see, it gave me four. It did take my money. I would like my euro. I need it for laundry.

Can't help you. Maybe it fell to the floor. Machine doesn't eat money. Perhaps you missed it in the tray?

Oh hell, it's on now lady. You see, I got no plans for the day, and I can be more obnoxious than you. I have eight years of obnoxious experience on you, and I know your game – I know your type – and you have no clue how ridiculous I can be! As if I missed it in the tray. The tray that is the size of an ash tray. Yes, I could of course see only four, but not five. Or yes – I missed the sound of it falling a meter to the ground, on the hard wood. Wouldn't have picked that up, cause I'm such a bleeding moron.

But I don't say this. I smile and say, so you're telling me it's either in the tray – or on the floor. Those are the only two possibilities? She gives a snide smile: That's right.

Very well. I sit on the floor, and I run my hands over it. I look everywhere. I spend about thrity seconds doing this, tapping things, knocking on things – you know, seeing if it's maybe trapped somewhere. I go about making a good obnoxious show. If I don't get my money, she gets no silence for her internet video watching. My problem is now her problem. And when something affects another, they have more reason to care.

But no – it is not on the floor. Hmm – must be in the machine then. I check the tray. Nope, I reach up into the machine. I feel something that I can grab onto. Hell, why not pull it out. After all, I was told my money MUST be in there. So I grab it, and retrieve – a plastic bag?! Very well. I reach my hand up again, and grab onto the metal plates inside the machine. I start tugging at them, ripping at them with one hand, hitting the machine with my other, trying to jostle something.

Hey – I was told to check in the machine, and yes I am prepared to break it to make my point. After all, it's already broken – else I'd have my money.

Time passes, and I can feel a plate loosening inside.

The woman speaks. You know what? Why don't you talk to the guy who runs the machine. She calls him over.

Are you effing kidding me?! You could have fetched him ten minutes ago, but just didn't? Seriously? Really?! He comes over, opens the machine, and there are two one euro coins sitting on a ledge, dispensed, but not out to the tray, halted by one – perhaps loosened – metal plate.

I show him the bag that was stuck up inside of the machine.

“Oh yeah, that's there to try and direct the coins down properly. I set that up every now and then. Sometimes they get caught inside.”

He smiles, and leaves.

I look over at the girl behind the desk. She turns away from her video (already back in viewing mode) looks up at me with a snide, smug, look and claims her final words – which she honestly and truthfully believes after everything that has transpired:

I told you the machine doesn't eat money.

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