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Son of Scumball Machine

July 8, 2009
Gum Ball, Knife, or Chemical Weapon?

Gum Ball, Knife, or Chemical Weapon?

The goodie dispensary pictured above is conveniently located outside the Schöneberg S-Bahn station at kinder eye level, as is the way of the scumball machine. There is such a spread of possibilities with this one. Some outcomes are within the customer’s control, while others are left to Lady Chance.

So Herr Dr. Childstein, what’ll it be?

Dubble or Nothing

Dubble or Nothing

Option One: For 20 cents you can have a faded, stale dead-ender gum ball. Local kids deride this as the “skim” milk option.

German Roulette

German Roulette

Option Two: For the same price you can have two fresh and vivid gum balls. However, with each crank there is a one in sixty chance you will end up with a not really edible miniature folding knife.

Oh, Boy

Oh, Boy

Option Three: For the more substantial investment of 50 cents you can have a weaponized lachrymatory agent. Pop the plastic egg, smack the pouch, and you’ve just forcibly evacuated a 20 meter radius.


The best choice boils down to your circumstances. Let’s focus on the most typical situation. You’re a lone child being attacked by a child street gang. You have some spare change, but no weapons. Luckily, there is a scumball machine within your tiny arm’s reach. The available options represent three possible evolutionary responses: freeze, fight, or flight.

Freeze (Door Number One): You redeem and bite down on a pineapple flavored gum ball as you endure a volley of kicks and punches. The time-stiffened gum braces your baby teeth, but tastes terrible.

Fight (Door Number Two): You fearlessly taunt your attackers while reaching for your shiny new blade. If luck is on your side, you stab the ringleader–let’s call him “Lil’ Psycho Ghetto Boss“–in the neck and assume command of the child gang. The other 59 out of 60 times, you nonsensically attempt to stab your rival with a delicious gumball (see previous outcome).

Flight (Door Number Three): God smiles on the wealthy. You whack the stink pack and bolt. Your dazed assailants flee from the sulfuric stench out into traffic where they are dashed to the wind like a muppet blast.

Life is about decisions, kids.


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