I've finally cracked it.
I've sat here in my cubicle, Identical in all respects to the other 3000 cubicles that stretch out over this floor, identical to the 3000 on the floor below, and the floor below that.
Identical apart from one thing – from here I can see the machine.
I can see its shining lights, its buttons and springs. I can observe it in action. I can look for it's weaknesses.
To the watchful eyes of the floorwalkers who pass by with monotonous regularity I'm no different to the other drones, but what would they know? Compared to the infinitesimal workings of the machine their routine is child's play to figure out.
i'll be moved soon I'm sure. They move us regularly, probably so we don't figure out things like this, but I got a lucky break. The previous occupier had started noticing it so in an unprecedented act of altruism, in the 2 minutes it took for him to vacate and me to occupy this cubicle he shared his observations of the machine with me.
So I've sat for the best part of 9 weeks watching, noting my findings, calculating, re-calculating and planning.
It happens once every 80 times. The middle spring must be slightly stretched. It should turn 1440 degrees each time but by my calculations it turns an extra 1.6 degrees, making one full extra turn every 225 times.
Today it's on 224, today is the day I act.
I am ready.
I get up, forcing as much nonchalance into my actions as my shaking body will allow. I walk slowly towards the machine, whispering the mantra with my now-dry throat "cool & calm, slowly does it, cool and calm, slowly does it"
The urge to look around almost overwhelms me, but I know the eyes of at least 100 people will be lazily glancing my way, briefly welcoming the break in the monotony before turning downwards again. The wrong look in my eyes now and I'll give the whole game away, all that work will be for naught.
I finally reach the machine and my clammy hand is already in my pocket where I fish out my 50p , slam it home into the slot and punch out the numbers, A3.
My eyes are squeezed tightly shut, I can't bring myself to look as the coil begins to slowly turn. Then I hear the "plup…plup" noise as not one but two items hit the tray.
I've done it. it worked. I've paid for one but due to the glitch, I've got two.
I fucking love beef Hula Hoops.