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April 30th, 2001

The Stamp Machine From Hell

A few months ago, I found myself at the Post Office in need of stamps. I chose to stop at a branch close to work before I began my eight hour workday; like many Post Offices, the lobby was open for PO Box access, but no humans were around to assist.

I spotted a cool grey vending machine, ready to take my money and dispense a book of stamps. Which worked out nicely since, of course, I needed a book of stamps. I opened up my wallet and spotted a group of many dollar bills. "Great, " I thought, "This’ll be easy."

I took out a rather crisp dollar bill and inserted it into the machine. The display acknowledged my dollar credit. I took out another crisp bill and inserted it into the machine. This time, the machine whirred it back out of the bill reader. I did the usual smoothing technique that never works – I took the bill and rubbed it against the corner of the machine. The same bill went back in, and it came out again.

I figured I’d try one of the many other singles I had. I eventually got two more in, but for some reason this machine was incredibly finicky. I tried all of the standard Dollar Rejection Policies. Upside down, reverse, rub on edge of machine, fold to simulate newness, etc. Things stalled out at three dollars – not nearly enough to get any kind of book of stamps available – and the machine wouldn’t give change.

But, over the next ten minutes, I got the remaining four dollars into the machine and obtained my book of stamps. I was very pleased to have these 34 cent stamps in my possession, and I kept and treasured them forever. The end.

[Note: I was pleased to read that I wasn’t the only one with stamp machine problems. Zeldman had some a few months back.] -pm

Posted in Everyday Life

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