The vending machine lied to me. That vile temptress took my money and ran.
Well, it didn't exactly run. More like it stood there, mocking me with it's quite hum. I'm not sure why I fell for it's trap. Thirst will do terrible things to a man.
The second half of my work day was well underway. My water bottle was empty, and I'd already downed a can of soda during my lunch break. The stresses of the day and a dry mouth had taken their toll. Something had to be done to quench my thirst and pick up my spirits.
Knowing I had a a few dollars in change, I decided to take action. With deliberate strides I left my chair behind and walked stalwartly down the aisle, entering the small break room. There it was. The vending machine. It's sleek, rectangular shape, promised more than just a snack. It's window revealed a world of cold beverages, some sophisticated, some simple. All were tempting to me with their shapely plastic bottles and colorful labels.
“Pick me,” they said. “I'm refreshing and tasty.” Oh, they knew their professions well.
“Buy me and I will make you feel better,” they promised. I shouldn't have listened.
I had already finished soda that day, so I was looking for something else. Something a little sweet, but healthy. Orange juice!
“Drink of my citrus flavor. I am healthy and good for you.”
I had been tempted by bottled orange juice before, though. Much of it promised sweet, yummy flavor, but much of it had been picked and juiced too green, giving it a horrible taste. I wasn't sure I wanted to risk it.
A coworker came in, so I knew I had to decide quickly. What would she think, finding me here gazing over these lovely liquids with such indecision? I noticed an orange like liquid in one corner, looking like faithful orange juice but not quite. Maybe this was a combination of juices. Perhaps orange mango, or orange pineapple. Maybe something more exotic.
“I won't let you down like some juice will,” it promised. “I will love you more than your regular juice.” It was exciting, extravagant. I found myself wanting it.
Embarrassed to be caught ogling such fruity forms, I hurried and pressed the buttons, A-1. My chosen beverage dropped from it's high perch and into the gaping hole below.
“You're choosing something healthy!” my co-worker said. “Good for you. I, on the other hand, need caffeine.”
I had barely escaped being caught and been complimented on my choice in one fell push of the button! Feeling triumphant in my wickedness, I returned to my workspace. As I walked, I turned the bottle over. Success! Orange Pineapple juice! Or so I thought. I opened the bottle and took a swig, drinking deep of it's bright, orangey essence.
Something was wrong. I could taste it. It was too sweet, and not really fruity. What was wrong? Looking again at the front of the label and then at the ingredients, the full horror of what I had done hit me. High fructose corn syrup! Natural flavors! Noooooo!
I had chosen a fruit flavored drink with only 10% juice. It was nothing more than expensive fruit punch!
I had cheated, and been cheated. I had found titillation in sordid images of other fruit, but it was all flash, and no substance. It's love for me was not real. It had only the semblance of juice, but not the power, thereof.
I had learned my terrible lesson. Never again would I choose the quick and tempting fruit drink. I would make sure it was pure, 100% juice, and not some Jezebel in fruit's clothing. I would not put myself in temptation's way with the evil vending machine, again.
Until tomorrow, anyway. I just might want an afternoon soda.
Photo by Vera Reis