“Ice Machine” / Memorable Fancies #699

[“I live by the ice machine. … It’s so annoying.” – Jeanne Morel]

     The old motel was the only place the County could find for me. So here I am, in room 414. I keep wondering why I was assigned to 414. I guess it’s OK, but there’s a drink machine on one side (where 412 would have been if 412 had been given a life, not aborted in favor of Coke and Pepsi) and the ice machine on the other side, where 416 might have been.
      The daily routine here is simple. A rattling sound as quarters descend their metal sluice-gates, sometimes a ding ding ding as change is emitted. And I wait. And I wait. Won’t he ever make up his damn mind? And then the bottle-thump. I’ve learned to tell the difference between a Coke-thump and a Pepsi-thump, although no one believes me when I say that and you probably don’t believe me either.
      Then I wait for door-close. Eight steps. Door-open. The sound of ice cascading into a plastic bucket. There is no ding ding ding for ice, because the ice is free. Some of the inhabitants here choose ice but no Coke, or Coke but no ice. Most of them can’t afford a Coke anyway, just the ice, ‘cause we’re all broke.
      Broke people hate each other, you know, because they remind us of ourselves. But we try to be civil. We would like to be not-broke, one of those people who don’t have to live in this dump of a motel. Some of us, the upper crust here, were once not-broke, as they constantly remind the rest of us. They had Coke and Pepsi every day, they say, all they wanted.
      But Coke-thump and Pepsi-thump and the ice-machine symphony is my day every day, except once a month when the social worker comes around. She’s soft and sympathetic, but she’s still part of the national ice-machine that keeps the Cokes and Pepsis cold, and us frozen in place.

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