Last January 26, a complaint made by a Lasallian after a horrible experience with one of the vending machines on campus spread through social media. The post captured the attention of many other students who also voiced out their own unpleasant experiences. The topic was covered in The LaSallian’s February issue not long after.
Now, months later, we take a look at what has changed for the students who had a not-so-pleasant experience with the vending machines, catching up with them to see how they’re doing and how the experience may have changed them forever.
You may notice that these accounts didn’t exactly appear in the article last February. This was done by request of the respondents themselves, who felt that their stories were too personal, unusual, or life-threatening to divulge. Even after they agreed to share their stories to our writers this time around, they insisted on changing their names and keeping their identities anonymous. When you read their reports, you’ll understand why.
What really happened?
At first glance, nothing seemed unusual about the drink Charlie* ordered from the vending machine at the Yuchengco lobby. “It was only when I walked away and took a closer look at my cup that I realized that something was in my drink,” he says. To his astonishment, Charlie found a neatly folded piece of paper floating in the middle of his drink.
On the other hand, Louise*, who was craving for a cold beverage on a warm day, was surprised to find nothing but water in the cup. “I was really looking forward to an ice-cold drink, but all I got was water,” she shares. The same happened to Ben*, who, instead of a steaming cup of coffee, got lukewarm water instead.
Liz* was really unlucky when it came to the vending machines in school. “I had two incidents with the vending machines,” she admits, and explains that, “The first time I tried, only the paper cup came out.” Thinking nothing of it, Liz tried to purchase another beverage a few weeks later, but still ended up disappointed. “The second time around, the drink came out, but the machine didn’t dispense any cups, so my order went straight down the drain,” she shares.
If you think Liz had it bad, wait until you hear Fred’s* story. Rather than finding harmless objects like paper or water in his cup, he found ahem… a little friend. To quote Fred’s Facebook post soon after the unfortunate and downright disgusting incident: “As I pulled it out of my mouth, ipis pala siya.” Never have we heard a more accurate depiction of the kiss of death.
These incidents range from being seemingly harmless to confusing to, well, gross. But what happened to the victims of these incidents after their strange encounters is a whole other story, one they weren’t always so keen to share.
What happened after
Putting the drink aside, Charlie got curious about what he found in it and decided to unfold it. That was when he saw the symbol of a secret organization drawn on it, as well as an invitation. “I got a call that night from someone explaining the piece of paper I found in my drink. I was convinced and joined their cause,” he explains. As to what that organization is, Charlie remains mum. However, he mentions that finding that invite in his drink was one of the best things that happened to him. “I’d like to say that I became a better person because of the events that happened after I found the invitation in my drink,” he asserts.
Meanwhile, Liz, who has since sworn off buying from any vending machine within and outside campus, wasn’t as lucky. “Those experiences were quite traumatic for me,” she confesses, “I started having trust issues, and not just with vending machines. About a couple weeks after [it happened], I decided to go see a therapist about it.” She has been undergoing therapy for a few months now, and will continue doing so for the foreseeable future, although she is confident that she’s making improvements.
As for Louise and Ben, they may have stumbled upon a new secret drink that the machines are offering. Ben explains, “When I looked inside the cup, I only saw water. But the weird thing is that, after one sip, it perked me up and gave me the same benefits that my regular cup of coffee did.” Louise recalls that the drink may not have had an ounce of caffeine, but it woke her up. “I got the desired effect without the caffeine. Nagising ako sa inis.”
And now, an update to the incident that started it all: after surviving his traumatic encounter with the six-legged embodiment of fear itself, Fred imagined he could continue with life like it had never happened. Sure, he sleeps with a can of Baygon at the ready these days, and there is always a slipper within his hands’ reach—just in case—but otherwise, he had hoped his days would go about like they used to. Fate, as it often does, had other plans.
A few days after the incident, Fred noticed certain talents he’d never had before. These were no ordinary talents, either. Some days he would wake up with compound-eye vision, which he described to us as, “distorted and scary at first—like a nightmare,” but which he eventually learned was useful when he realized he could see in multiple directions at once. Another time, he claimed he was able to walk sideways along a wall, but when he attempted to step onto the ceiling, he fell—and yet, rolled to his feet in no time without a scratch. Fred was beginning to exhibit what he later realized were superpowers—and much like Spider-Man, Ant-Man, and Black Widow (no, her powers aren’t based off the spider), he decided to put these new insect-like abilities to good use. A student by day and the soon-to-be-famous superhero Fred D. Roach by night, he prowls Taft Avenue stopping crime, helping people cross the street, and motivating you to finish that last lap around Razon. He has, however, developed an unhealthy fear of slippers since the incident.
What happens now
Unexpected events can have even more unexpected consequences. As Liz slowly learns to trust again, Fred continues his half-mundane, half-extraordinary life as Taft Avenue’s newest vigilante and protector, Fred D. Roach. Each of our victims has moved on from the incidents that shook them from their normal lives, yet made the most out of every encounter.
Now, it’s our turn to move on from this issue, but if there’s anything that can be gleamed from this entire issue, it’s to always embrace the unexpected.