Check that expiration: save your colon

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Check that expiration: save your colon

By Matt Hutchison, Columnist

Superstition tells us omens occur in sets of three. The most haunted time of day is considered to be 3 a.m. The trinity, the tripartite, the three branches of government — you get the idea.

This past week, I made three purchases from three different vending machines: All were expired. These products consisted of a candy bar, a Vitamin Water and a milk-based coffee. The candy bar was one-month expired, the Vitamin Water three months and the milk-coffee five months! Five! If you like logic problems, complete the sequence: (1, __, 5).

That’s right; it’s 3. If I were superstitious or watching a horror film, I might have taken this to mean that I (or the film’s character) was about to expire!

But I’m not superstitious — I don’t believe in omens, mediums or the like. (Although Halloween is the perfect time to think about such things.) For all the realists who feel they can’t be bothered to think about trivial things like ghosts, ghouls and goblins as their analysis is focused on serious topics like gametes, gravity or Galileo, perhaps Halloween is also the perfect time to reflect on the uncanny, from artificial intelligence to aspects of politics and human psychology.

Some of you might be screaming, “Who cares about such abstractions? It’s uncanny enough to know three vending machines could have such expired products. Gross! Is competent oversight completely lacking? Doesn’t administrative staff outnumber academic staff 3:1? (Three!)”

More uncanny is most of the products in these vending machines are equally expired (some much more than five months) but a few aren’t, meaning they are restocked but not checked.

This is the first time I’ve encountered expired products more than a couple weeks past their prime, but I have surely learned my lesson: Always check for expiration dates! Can you imagine drinking five-month-expired milk-based coffee before an exam? That is the most horrifying thing that could happen on any Halloween.

Unfortunately, I didn’t know who to go to. Should a massive campus like ours have an Office for Administrative and Operational Complaints, preferably in a centralized and highly visible location?

This might be too lofty of an ideal. Until then, I highly encourage students to get in the habit of checking expiration dates, every time.

I also encourage you to develop a healthy dose of indignation when you notice our beloved University not living up to high standards. Excellence isn’t a zero-sum game where neglect of certain areas allows for distinction in others — excellence is never realized by making excuses.

I hope I won’t have to be on the phone for three hours with customer service disputing my vending machine charges.

Matt is a junior in Media.

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