The Minimum Wage Machine by Blake Fall-Conroy was one of our most popular exhibits at HUMANS NEED NOT APPLY. It allows anybody to work for minimum wage — turning the crank will yield one cent every 3.892 seconds, for €9.25 an hour, Ireland’s standard minimum wage for an adult worker.
During the exhibition, plenty of our visitors rolled up their sleeves and gave the Minimum Wage Machine a go — here’s how the majority spent their earnings.
A few weeks into the show, a visitor saw what the piece could do, and wanted to see if they could purchase a coffee from the café with their earnings. They asked the café staff if they could use the Minimum Wage Machine coins as payment, and the café staff lightheartedly agreed, thinking the visitor wouldn’t have the patience to collect that much coinage. Lo and behold, the visitor returned to the café sometime later to buy their coffee with nothing but one-cent coins. Suitably impressed, the café gave them coffee free of charge — and the visitor ended up donating the coins to their tip jar!
In at least two cases, visitors (especially the younger ones) used the Minimum Wage Machine to earn enough coins to buy their own souvenirs in our shop — a well-earned purchase!
Many visitors (and many parents of younger visitors) were unsure what to do with the copious amounts of one cent coins they earned while in the gallery. On departure, a good number of them noticed our donations box out front, and deposited their well-earned cash into it.
Stefan (pictured below) came in with his school group for a tour of HUMANS NEED NOT APPLY a few weeks before the exhibition closed. They loved Minimum Wage Machine – but none more so than Stefan. After the tour, he decided to stick around and earn enough money to buy a Subway foot-long sandwich. He cranked the handle tirelessly for over an hour, listening to classical music to make the time pass quicker — and he had ended up earning himself over €8! He agreed to return to the gallery to let us know if he got his sandwich… and he did, with a drink and an extra 6-inch sandwich! The cashier, hearing the story of Minimum Wage Machine, was moved by the story and ended up telling Stefan all about his own hardships and life surviving in Russia on minimum wage – and he agreed to take the coins and make the requested sandwich, and threw in an extra one for Stefan’s friends back in the gallery.
Who knew that such a small coin machine could harbour or ‘crank out’ so many stories!