When we were kids, my sister and I used to delight in seeing vending machines. We never got to buy anything out of them; but they all still held a rather small, but very real, possibility: forgotten change.
As we entered the grocery store, my sister and I would linger near the cart corral, and take turns slipping a single finger into the returned coin slot of various machines; hoping (but not expecting) that someone had forgotten to pick up their overrun change – and that we would be the recipients of a valuable nickel, dime, or (*gasp*) quarter.
Usually, the only thing we felt was the smooth metal curve of the empty coin-return dish.
But once in a blue moon, we would find a bit of currency that had been left behind; and a mundane errand with our mom suddenly became a day of delight.
It’s been a good ten years since I’ve thought about those days of my youth. But for some reason, tonight as I was waiting at my yoga studio, one of those vending machine memories came to me as I was heating up my dinner. To my right and to my left stood several such machines. I got a small smile on my face. Hmm, I wonder….
I casually looked over each of my shoulders to make sure I was alone (I was); then I nonchalantly slipped my index finger into the change return of the first machine.
Empty. Of course it was. I really didn’t expect anything different. I laughed a little bit; in that instant, I felt the exact same internal emotions I experienced when I was a child engaging in these very same actions. I perceived a tiny bit of hope, followed by a tiny bit of disappointment, quickly evening out into a “que sera” kind of attitude.
I shrugged my shoulders. But then I moved on to the next vending machine.
One my one, I slid a single finger into each change dome. One by one, I felt hope, then disappointment, then neutrality. One by one I shrugged, then smiled, then remembered my sister. Then kept going.
At the last machine, my finger made contact with something different. I nudged something cold and hard to the lip of the change bowl – and extracted two coins.
In the land of little kid logic, TWO coins easily trump one coin. (Even a quarter.) Clearly, tonight was a super-special one for me.
The change was a fun find; but the happy memories I re-experienced truly made my evening wonderful.
And, I got to pocket a cool fifteen cents. Sweet.