When I was in college, I had several of my English classes in a building known as Emerson Hall, so I spent a lot of time there. Occasionally, I would get thirsty over the course of the day and would need to buy a water bottle from the vending machine. However, I quickly learned that one of the vending machines was not a normal beverage dispenser. It was actually possessed by demons. Oddly generous demons, that is.
One day, I went down and ordered a water bottle. I put in $1.25, got a water bottle, and started to walk away… and then I heard the rumble of the machine kick up, and it spat out another bottle. I scooped it out, thinking that I’d scored a duplicate by mistake… but then it happened again. And again. And again.
All in all, I ended up with 13 waters. One of my professors strolled by, saw my predicament, and muttered, “They really need to fix that thing,” before disappearing into a classroom. I ended up leaving a few of the bottles on top of the vending machine, but crammed the rest into my bag and handed most of them out to classmates.
Over time, many students discovered that, if you order one drink from the vending machine, it will sometimes spit out every single drink in that category all at once. A friend of mine got saddled with 11 Cokes at one point, another with 20+ Sprites. If you didn’t get lucky and hit the machine right after it was filled, it would typically run out after a couple of days, then not get refilled for a week or so.
It was a luck of the draw situation; a gamble. One person could approach, put in their $1.25, and get one drink. Then, the next person could stroll up, pop in their $1.25, and get 14 Dr. Peppers. Is it fair? No. It was all random; up to the fickle hands of fate and fortune.
That’s life, though.
Life is a faulty vending machine. Sometimes, you walk up and the drink you yearned for has been snatched away, and you’re stuck with sub-par alternate options. Sometimes, you put in the same amount of effort, or even more, than someone else, and they reap the rewards while you settle for scraps. Does life always work this way? No, sometimes it works in the opposite manner. Sometimes, it isn’t something that can be prevented – it’s just the way things are. Sometimes, you end up folding while someone else gets a flush, and the only deciding factor was chance.
But does that mean you stop putting in the effort? No, of course not.
Even faulty vending machines have their moments of functionality. They are full of prizes; of wonders and marvels. Sometimes, it won’t take your money. Other times, your packet of peanut M&M’s gets jammed and you can’t free it, even after trying to knock it loose with some Swedish Fish or a shoulder-slam into the machine. And every now and then, it will give you the wrong item instead of the one you wanted, and you have to make do with a danish instead of cookies. Does that mean you give up? No; you keep on trying. The peanut M&M’s will be yours, someday, no matter how elusive they seem.
Maybe life isn’t fair, sometimes, and it doesn’t always work out how you want it to, no matter how hard you try. But it’s always worth it to take a chance, and put in the effort, even if there are some mishaps along the way. With enough patience, you can also end up with 13 water bottles for $1.25. Because life may be faulty, but it is worth the effort.