Oct 30

Charley and the Vending Machines

In 1995 when I was a senior in high school I made a freshman friend, Charley Farmer. It is one of those clichés, but it’s one that definitely true of Charley: He exhibited a strong degree of childlike wonder. I really liked that about him.

One time in 1998 he was visiting me on the campus of the local community college. When he met up with me he explained that he had been wandering the school looking at the various vending machines. He reported to me with great excitement that prices of certain items varied by as much as 10¢ from one machine to the next!

He died from a drug overdose about a year later.

This semester I am once again attempting to continue my education by attending a community college. I was studying for a test in the cafeteria last night and I wanted a snack. I went to a vending machine and reviewed my options. I then looked at the machine next to it and, I’m happy to announce in Charley’s honor, that there was a 25¢ variance on the prices of the exact same item in two machines sitting right next to one another. Mrs. Freshley’s Buddy Bars cost $1.25 in the first machine and a mere $1.00 in the second.

I guess there is an increase in the price discrepancy phenomenon! I bet my math teacher could come up with a maddening word problem that included these two costs. How many Buddy Bars would need to be sold at $1.00 and how many would need to be sold at $1.25 to reach a total of $117.00?