We have a fairly large room that nobody goes into for very long. It is referred to as ‘the green room’, not because it’s green, but because in telly studios or theatres, ‘the green room’ is where people just ‘hang’, eat, drink, wait, or whatever, ahead of doing whatever it is they are in the building to do. And that’s exactly what this room is supposed to be for.
At one end of the room, bolted into the floor and plumbed into the mains is what we call ‘the coke machine’. In truth, it is a multi-faceted machine. It has packets of crisps, bars of chocolate, and cans of drink, including coke.
‘The coke machine’ hates £1 coins, and so will reject most of them. After a bit of a fight and getting the angle just right, it is occasionally possible to get them in. Sometimes items like bars of chocolate won’t fall down to the collection hatch, and so a man who is very tall and very strong gets called, in order to somehow rock the machine until the item falls into the collection hatch. We are not sure how he does this as it won’t budge if any of the rest of us try, since ‘the coke machine’ really is bolted to the floor.
‘The coke machine’ was there before we were and I’m guessing is extremely old. From time to time, especially when the weather is humid, it unashamedly wets itself, leaving us to clear up after it. A lot.
It does have periods of being silent, but it spends a lot of the time with its cooling system making the noise of a washing machine spinning whilst its bearings have gone. Or a pneumatic road drill. Or the inside of the engine of the QE2. It is uncomfortably loud.
That also explains why the only inhabitant of ‘the green room’ is ‘the coke machine’.
There was a time when ‘the coke machine’ had an eco-sensor fitted. The idea seemed to be that if ‘the coke machine’ hadn’t detected anybody for a certain time it would go to sleep and so not kick off making its awful engine noise. For a few months people reclaimed the green room, after somebody worked out how to enter like ninjas, squeeze round the back of ‘the coke machine’ whilst it was asleep and use some of the seats in the room it wasn’t able to ‘see’.
Sadly the eco-sensor stopped working after a few months and so ‘the coke machine’ forced us out of its exclusive green room domain again. Despite trying various ploys like covering it with a dark sheet, you know, like how you might cover a cage a bird is inside to fool it into going to sleep, ‘the coke machine’ was onto us and refused to do anything but stay awake making noises.
We never see the van of the man who comes to fill it up. He just turns up at the door, looking very shifty, head nervously checking left and right before he comes in, clutching random boxes full of cans or crisps or chocolate. He refills, asks us to dispose of the boxes “very carefully, please mate”, empties the money from ‘the coke machine’ into his pocket, says he’ll see us again very soon and then legs it. He arrives at all different times, like he is trying to make sure nobody can suss a pattern and assassinate him on route.
We don’t pay to have ‘the coke machine’ there. We don’t get paid a percentage of the takings. The arrangement is that we just supply the huge quantity of electricity ‘the coke machine’ consumes as it sits all alone in ‘the green room’ making sure that we don’t try to share the room as a place of relaxation. ‘The coke machine’ wants the green room and we are bullied out of it, and that’s the way it has always been, the way it will always be.