Something To Chew On

Healthy Eating Vending MachineWe’ve all had those days. You know the one, where everything seems to go wrong and the world feels like it’s spiraling out of control? It’s a cool cucumber who can keep it all together during those times and luckily I was with one of the coolest of them all.

Making The Switch
A good friend of mine recently made the switch from a very successful run at a financial firm to the world of entrepreneurship. She took some time to figure out a new path, which led her into the world of vending machines that provide healthy snack and drink options. From the beginning of this new journey, I’ve been hitch-hiking along for the ride, offering support and encouragement along the way. She purchased 5 new machines, went to training, and then hit the pavement to find new homes for her vending machines and within a few weeks, she landed sites for all of them.

The Move–Again And Then Again
The big day arrived. Two machines were being placed in a break room for a bunch of terrific folks, manning machinery on double-shift schedules. We were going to get the call from the moving company to meet up with them sometime late morning. Closing in on noon, we decided to check in. My friend dialed the number, connected with a human voice, and I watched how her body language turned from the exuberance of a child on Christmas morning to someone who just found out the Grinch stole all her presents. I listened to her try to maneuver the conversation as deftly as a fighter pilot. Flight delayed… She got off the phone, looked at me and said the move was on hold until the next morning. Their regular driver had an arm in a sling and they had absolutely no one that could cover for him. My friend then had to make a call to her new client, apologize profusely (especially since she knew the old machines had already been taken out), and assure them she’d be there first thing the next morning. In the meantime, she brought over complimentary snacks and drinks to the break room as a peace offering.

The big day arrived–again. Our two cars were packed with Cliff Bars, Smart Waters and every other healthy snack you can think of (Ok, along with just a couple of less healthy goodies they had requested). We met the movers with the brand new, state-of-the-art, high tech, totally kick-ass vending machines in tow. With both units off the dollies, my friend had kind of a staring contest with the movers, hoping her use of The Force would move them to the next step of putting the feet on the machines and leveling them off. It appeared the mind control thing was going nowhere, so she came right out and asked. They said that wasn’t something they did. My friend said in a disarming manner that she was told by the buyer this was a part of the service they provided. The guys to their credit, took it in stride and helped out.

Once the machines were in place, my friend asked if the movers could head back to the truck to grab a few more items that appeared to be missing: an attachable entree unit, a cord to yes, plug one of the machines in, and one of the skirts. The movers shuffled from foot to foot while indicating there was nothing left in the truck. The entree unit and skirt we could do without for now. The plug? Pretty important. My friend held her composure with the movers, knowing full well they weren’t the culprits. Luckily, she had an extra vending machine with all the fixings down the road at her home. While I stayed for the remainder of the installation, she raced home to grab a plug (while checking in on her freshmen year daughter who was home sick her first week of high school and a husband off to China on a business trip).

My friend got back and we plugged both machines in. In a perfect world, the vending machines hook up, via the company cell service, to get on the network so credit card purchases can be processed and inventory can be uploaded to an online database for sales tracking. We weren’t living in a perfect world. Vending machine #1 (I called Ernie) was able to connect to the network, however the button panel on the front was defective, meaning no one could type in the number for their item. As for machine #2 (Sesame Street fans know where I’m going with this) Bert, had absolutely no internet connection whatsoever.

Hours later, after working with Support over the phone, while wielding a Phillips screwdriver, we learned more about the innards of a vending machine than we ever thought possible. We temporarily got Ernie’s button panel up and running. Meanwhile, Bert was still dead in the water. We had reached the end of the day and the end of what we could do for now.

The next day, my friend went back in. During day two, Ernie lost the connection to the internet as well. What remained were Ernie and Bert, able to take cash in, dish food out, but they couldn’t offer a credit card option and it left my friend blind on inventory and cash collection. Troubleshooting continued by adding a booster to the machines to help with the cell service signal, but it still wasn’t enough. Finally it came down to an amicable decision between the client and my friend that Ernie and Bert would have to find a new home. The internet connection was still too spotty. Luckily, a new site, well tested for cell service, has been found for the machines.

The Attitude
I watched as my friend faced one problem after another. I watched how she calmly handled herself in front of a hungry and thirsty, but understanding work crew, in the break room–how she worked with the company’s facilities liaison as well as IT, both on and off-site, where the cell signal was so bad, her call kept dropping and she had to move to another part of the building to hear what she had to do next. She kept finding herself in the hot seat as she encountered each unforeseeable issue, and yet she held it together, threw in a joke here and there to ease any tension, and kept plugging along. She chalked it up to a learning experience and accepted the fact that some things were just beyond her control and all she could do was show up and do her best. The saying “it’s all in the attitude” gets thrown around a lot. In this instance, the positive attitude my friend kept was imperative. She kept her cool and did a hell of a job.

The Takeaways
What is this day going to bring for you? You wish for smooth sailing, but if you hit a few rough waves:

  • Try to stay in the moment
  • Think of it as a learning opportunity. For my friend, she now knows counting on a few bars on her smart phone isn’t enough to think there’s a strong enough cell signal for the machines. She invested in a hand-held device, which reads the signal accurately, that she now brings to scout out prospective site locations.
  • Take a few deep breaths and know this too shall pass
  • And remember the more positive your attitude, the clearer your head–the better you’re able to troubleshoot, and in the long run, the better the outcome

Have you had days like this? Tell us in the comment section how you managed to get through it!

Would love to hear your thoughts,
most especially if you think it can help others!
Take what flows for you and let the rest float by.

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