Empty Vending Machine Continues to Plead for Death


Brent Anderson

Ransom Gardner, an EdCC Student, longs for the day when Vendy will be fed once again.

A vending machine sits, empty and alone, in the Mountlake Terrace Hall. The story of how it got that way involves state funds, corporate adoption, and a robbery. Few know the full story, and the battle for Vendy’s fate is now being quietly fought.

The empty vending machine has been a source of puzzlement for many in the EdCC community. If it was unplugged, people would likely assume it was broken and hadn’t yet been moved. If it had items in it, people would assume that the machine was temporarily out of order. But it’s has sat there, quarter after quarter, powered on, yet empty, serving no apparent purpose.

Who owns it? Why is it empty? If it is broken, who would be responsible for turning it off? Ahamed Alsaadi, campus security guard, gets his coffee from the red Rubi coffee machine right next to Vendy. He says it’s been empty for the past couple years. The coffee machine was vital to uncovering the story. Listed on the coffee vending machine was a small label. “If you are having problems with this vending machine/Please contact Center for Student Engagement and Leadership.” The quest began.

Wayne Anthony, Director of CSEL, remembered a time when Vendy served an important purpose to students of the community. “They stocked it with those basic needs. Bluebooks, pens, pencils, stuff like that,” said Anthony. Scantron sheets were also offered. Vendy made certain that weekend and evening students would have access to basic supplies when the bookstore was closed. The college bookstore used to be owned and operated by the college itself, and Vendy was a way to make sure bookstore supplies would be available to all. “It was a college-operated, self-support business,” said Anthony. Years ago, EdCC switched to a contract system with Barnes & Noble College.

Anthony was unsure if Barnes & Noble College had ever stocked the vending machine, or if the vending machine was
included in the lease. I still didn’t know who owned the machine, but I was leaning toward the bookstore. I now had an idea of why it was empty. Both ideas would prove wrong.

For more information, Anthony directed me to Kelvin Nesvog from the Print and Mail Center. Nesvog had previously been responsible for the old college bookstore. He confirmed that Vendy had been stocked and operated by the old bookstore as a service to students. He also confirmed that it had initially been stocked by Barnes & Noble College as well. I asked him if that meant Barnes & Noble currently owned the machine.

“Well, here’s where it gets more convoluted,” said Nesvog. “When they took over the bookstore, I mean, they took over
the space and the services it provided, right?” But the bookstore doesn’t actually own the vending machine. It was ‘inherited’, and for several reasons the bookstore decided not to invest in it. The biggest reason? Someone robbed Vendy.

In fact, if you go to the Mountlake Terrace Hall and look carefully at the left hand side of the vending machine, near the
lock, you can see where the burglar broke in and the hefty padlock used to replace it. It was robbed by someone who knew what they were doing. “They had removed all the internal money-keeping components. The coin box and the change maker, very, very expensive components,” said Nesvog. The biggest single aspect of a vending machines cost had been stolen, and the bookstore didn’t want to replace it.

“It continues to be plugged in and consume electricity but it doesn’t do anything,” Nesvog said, summing up my thoughts. Vendy was in a low-security place when it got robbed. It was originally stationed in Lynnwood Hall by the enrollment center, then in a specifically designed alcove in Brier Hall that no longer exists, before it was moved to the lobby of Mountlake Terrace. Later, when the college wanted more seating, it was moved to the back of Mountlake Terrace Hall where it was broken into. A place isolated enough to conduct a robbery.

I thought this must finally be the answer. Vendy an empty hunk of metal, was stripped of its purpose by some loathsome opportunist. Since it can no longer perform the duty for which it was made, it is left empty, but also forced to continue its existence because no one would bother with it. But, in a final twist, Nesvog gave me incredible news. The vending machine has been fixed.

Nesvog directed me to the EdPass office where the man who fixed the machine was at. Vendy still doesn’t take coins, but it is fitted with an EdPass reader, like the ones used to pay for printing around campus. So the machine is operational.

Although the EdPass reader was installed with the hopes that Vendy could be utilized by students, plans for the machine seem to have fizzled. Vendy can’t be sold for profit, since it was purchased partly with state funds by the college. The current bookstore does not seem to have an interest in stocking it. Students could undoubtedly benefit from being able to access materials, but, in the end, it’s just one more piece of the complex, interlaced system that is college. Sometimes things have to be let go. The EdPass office states, “We may end up donating the unit to another organization.”

The fate of Vendy may be up in the air, but at least it’s no longer a mystery.

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