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Andrea Langworthy's column: A nutty memory

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Last week, the Minneapolis StarTribune had a story about St. Paul’s Pearson Candy Company. Hoping to get a share of the Halloween market, the establishment now makes individual-sized bars. Mini Salted Nut Rolls. Num, num.

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Reading the article took me back to the 1980s when I was selling cars at a Chevrolet dealership in Bloomington. Two days a week, I worked from mid-afternoon until 9 p.m.

I had learned the hard way that if I ate dinner, I lost out on opportunities to talk to prospects. Instead of running out for a meal or picking up take-out to eat it in the upstairs lunch room, I decided to get my evening nourishment from the candy machine in the service department.

One night, I decided to try a Salted Nut Roll. After that, every evening I worked, I looked forward to that log of nougat encrusted with peanuts. I even pleaded with the man who filled the machine; asking him, to no avail, to add an extra row of what I had convinced myself was a protein-packed meal.

One night, as I rounded the corner towards the machine, I saw the metal coil in the very middle was empty. There had been a run on Salted Nut Rolls.

I looked at the bottom of the machine, hoping one had fallen. No luck. Could I make do with red licorice, a Snickers or tiny crackers with cheddar cheese? My stomach lurched as if to say, “No!”

I made my way back to the show floor where one of my co-workers was standing. “Where’s the nut roll?” he asked. I told him my sad tale.

A bit later, he stood in the doorway of my office, motioning for me to follow him. Told me he hadn’t been able to find his price book so he’d looked into his office mate’s drawer to see if it was there. “Look at what I found,” he said.

Salted Nut Rolls. Enough to fill the entire row of a vending machine. “He must have thought this would be a good trick to play on you,” my friend said. “I wonder why he didn’t stick around to see what happened.”

I mumbled something about strangling the prankster. My friend said he had a better idea.

He went upstairs and brought back a plastic baggie from the lunchroom. One by one, he carefully opened the wrappers and dropped the candy bar into the bag. “Ask the receptionist for some glue,” he instructed.

When I returned, he handed me an empty wrapper and told me to blow air into it until it was full. “Then, I’ll glue it shut,” he said, adding that when we finished, we’d put them back in the drawer just like they had been before.

The next day, the trickster stood in front of my office. Said he’d heard the vending machine was out of my favorite bars. He had picked up a couple on his way to work. He would be happy to sell me one.

I pulled out the plastic bag of salted nut treats. “No, thanks, I’ve got more than enough,” I told him. He turned away. I heard him open the drawer of his desk two offices away. He may have chuckled. He may have cursed. It didn’t matter.

My friend was right: Payback is more fun than strangling a jokester any day of the week.

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