You would never, ever guess from some of the material I post here, but I am very easily amused. I also have a tendency to act like I’m five years old. This is the set up for a somewhat lengthy true story behind why I’m making this post today….
So, last night at work, one of my co-workers asks me right off the bat for change for a dollar. I think I mentioned before I’m a longtime Where’s George participant, so I always keep spare change in my pocket in hopes of swapping it out with clean, unmarked dollars. Anyway, I was a bit unprepared tonight, and this exchange left me down to just one nickel. So on our first break, I stopped off at the change machine in the little arcade at the front of our store to cash out another dollar bill. The change machine is all the way at the back of the arcade, so I had to walk past all of the machines on the way back out, and that’s when something caught my eye…..
We have a couple of these damn “Bear Claw” type crane machines, and I’ll be damned if one of them didn’t have a big ol’ plush Scrat toy in it, sitting right by the exit chute with his long muzzle draped over the opening. I’m not really all that big on other fictional squirrels, perhaps a tad out of jealousy, but I do have to give it up for Scrat, the sabre-toothed squirrel from the Ice Age movies. I already have his Happy Meal toy adorning my sciurine collection. Because the only soda machines working at our damn store were the expensive ones outside that wouldn’t take a dollar bill, I wound up visiting that change machine two more times during the night….. and each time, I stopped at that crane machine and eyed Scrat. Dammit, I had to have that thing! I hadn’t played one of these con artist goldmines in over 20 years, and the only reason I wasted the money back then was because I wanted to see if I could retrieve a water bottle adorned with the helmet logos of all 28 NFL teams that some hot shot kid I hated had wasted over two bucks trying to get out.
But times have changed in 20 years, and now it costs 50 cents a try at one of these things. Dare I risk the money? I made up my mind that after work, I was gonna put a dollar in the machine, figuring two chances would be enough to determine if Scrat was gettable or not. He was a bit buried, so I wasn’t sure if I could even get ahold of him with the claws of steel. With an impromptu audience of fellow employees and an earlybird customer or two, sure enough, I whiffed on the first try, barely even brushing across his mangy fur with the tines. Well, I get one more shot, so I positioned the crane again….. only this time, before I hit the red button to send it downward, I took a peek through the side of the machine. My Mom had mentioned while we were passing one of these machines in a restaurant a few weeks ago, that she heard the best way to have success with these crane machines was to look through the side glass and not the front. Supposedly there is an optical illusion caused by looking through the front glass that does not exist when you look in the side. The view did seem clearer, and I figured I was in the best position possible. So I hit the red button…. the claw closed…. Scrat was slowly lifted from the pile of other plush junk…. oh it’s such a short jaunt to the exit chute, please don’t drop him!!!!!
I will not lie, I was absolutely tickled to death that I actually plucked him out of that machine. An 8 year old kid getting his first bicycle wouldn’t have been giddier than I was. I happily and proudly carried my new treasure out of the arcade, out the front doors of the store, and down the parking lot… much to the bemusement of my colleagues, I’m sure. I’m not sure where I’m gonna put him permanently. It’s a really big plush, so big he even towers over my cats, who I already discovered would love to make a chew toy out of him.
I’ll find a place for him. Sometime, I’ll have to share some of my other various keepsakes I have in this insane collection I have built up over the past three years. Damn, either I drank too much Pepsi last night, or I am still way too excited over a damn toy…..