It’s the little things that count, often because big things take a lot more time and effort.

It’s the little things that count, often because big things take a lot more time and effort.


Take the vending machine at work.


When I recently noticed a Post-it note attached near the coin slot I was intrigued. The message was simple but heartbreaking. Not so simple that I remember it exactly, but it went something like this:


“The machine ate my dollar and I didn’t get my animal crackers.”


It was signed, "Lauren," and there was a drawing of a sad face to illustrate the understandable anguish felt by Lauren, who is otherwise in possession of a bright and bubbly personality.


“Oh, the humanity,” I intoned to myself, there being no one else in the room to intone to.


Well, I’m not ashamed to say that I misted up a bit. (All right, I’m a little ashamed.) Nonetheless, I decided to take action.


Sure, I could have sat on the sidelines, a position I initially became familiar with during my junior high school football days, but I decided I couldn’t wait for the vending machine guy to make this right.


To borrow a phrase, fate had messed with the wrong melon farmers.


But what to do? Should I attempt to bake a batch of animal crackers for Lauren?


No, she’s an accomplished baker of confetti cupcakes while my culinary prowess is limited to producing a passable lasagna Hamburger Helper.


That wouldn’t do.


Should I reimburse her the $1 lost to the machine?


No, Lauren would be too proud to accept the charity of others, even if offered in the interest of furthering justice.


That wasn’t the solution, either.


But then what needed to be done came to me with the clarity and precision of lasagna Hamburger Helper instructions.


I would purchase the animal crackers and surreptitiously leave them on Lauren’s desk.


I immediately put my plan into action. Fortunately, I had the 85 cents in exact change needed.


As I left the bag of animal crackers on her keyboard I couldn’t help but feel that in some small - really, really small way - I was making our world a slightly, - really, really slightly - better place.


Only days later, I discovered another Post-it note on the vending machine. This time from Karen who decried the awful and visually apparent fact that her Sour Patch Kids had gotten stuck, failing to fall to where they could be reached through the push-through slot at the bottom.


I knew what had to be done.


Frank Mulligan is an editor in GateHouse Media New England’s Raynham, Mass., office, and can be reached at fmulliga@cnc.com.