One day, in college, I went over to my friend’s apartment. His name was Mike. We were playing Super Nintendo and I happened to look over at his kitchen table. On it stood a pyramid of soft drinks–Cokes, Sprites, Diet Cokes, etc.–and next to this was a beer stein filled with quarters. Filled all the way to the top.

Naturally I wondered where all these sodas and quarters had come from.

From knocking up Coke machines, he says.

Well, okay, but how? I knew it was possible to tilt a machine and roll some of the cans out, but the quarters?

Nah, he says. It’s nothing like that. Want me to show you?

Of course I did.

So a little while later, around midnight, we’re dressed in dark shirts and jeans and approaching a brightly-lit Coke machine in my apartment complex. You can sort of see this machine from the street, and I’m kinda nervous. At that point the biggest crime I’d ever committed was to steal porn magazines from 7-11.

We carried with us a couple of plastic grocery sacks and a bottle of Dawn dishwashing liquid mixed with water.

Okay, he says. All you have to do is shoot a stream of soapy water into the coin slot. Watch.

I stand there while he shoots a stream of soapy water into the coin slot.

We wait.

After a moment the machine makes a kind of buzzing sound, and I may or may not see a little blue lightning crawling around the coin slot.

Then: a sound.


A quarter appears in the coin slot, and Mike reaches in to retrieve it.

For the next couple of minutes or so, about once a second, the machine makes that sound.


And each time, another quarter drops into the coin slot.

While Mike gathers the quarters, he instructs me to push a button to select a soft drink. I depress the Coke button and am awarded a frosty, red can. In fact, every time I push a button, the machine dispenses another soda.

So I press buttons and Mike collects quarters, and the machine is saying Ka-chunk! Ka chunk! Ka-chunk!

Like a broken slot machine that pays on every pull.

Pretty soon we start to get antsy, and one of us hears someone coming. We think. We take our sacks of Cokes and pockets full of quarters and run off.

Behind us the Coke machine is still sputtering.

Ka-chunk! Ka-chunk! Ka-chunk!

I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard in my life.

Eventually more people learned about the Coke machine game, and pretty soon the cops realized they should pay more attention to machines around town.

One day a friend of mine was caught. This moron wanted to show his girlfriend, and when the cops came the two of them hid in some nearby bushes. Unfortunately there happened to be a bed of fire ants nearby, and he was bitten about fifty times before his girlfriend got nervous and climbed out of the bushes and turned herself in.

After that we left the Coke machines alone. I think someone in manufacturing found the mechanical flaw and fixed it. So don’t bother with it now.

But every so often I think about that sound.


It always makes me laugh.