Friday, September 27, 2013

Snack attack

There are lots of ways to get your hands on food with the intent of getting that food into your mouth, especially here in America. None are as cold and dark as getting it from a coin-operated vending machine, though. What we all think of as a convenience is actually a study of how much we hate each other and, on some levels, ourselves. There is a lot of fairly aggressive contempt going back and forth when you buy something from a vending machine. Let's take a look...

  • You get what you pay for - When you go to the vending machine it's because you're looking for something to eat and you either only have or don't want to spend more than about a dollar. The chances of getting something actually good for you with even a little nutritional value are not good under this kind of budgetary constraint.
  • You're dealing with a machine - In most cases, we as humans feed each other. Whether we're cooking for our family, being waited on by a server in a restaurant, or patronizing a grocer at the supermarket, there's almost always some sort of human element in effect when we eat. Not so with a vending machine. Sure, some person puts the stuff inside but that's not the same thing. The same guy who empties the coins is also cramming snacks into the coils so there will be more coins next time. Guess which element he cares about more? (hint: people throw away food all the time; when does anybody ever intentionally throw away even the smallest amount of money?) I'm sure at the end of the day the vending machine guy doesn't consider what he does as "feeding people".
  • Take this - So you show up, decide what you want and start cramming in your coins (because, again, it's cheap) into the slot. "Here, machine. Take my little metal discs that represent fractions of a whole dollar", you say as you force them inside of it. Sometimes, for whatever reason, a coin won't take. Then what do you do? You jam it in there even more forcefully, sometimes over and over, until it takes it. Then you push two buttons and a coil starts to rotate, dispensing your item. Hopefully.
  • All sales final - Because the person stocking the machine doesn't really care about you, anonymous vending machine customer, they invest a lot more care in getting the coins out of the machine than they do in putting the food into it. As a result, sometimes things get stuck. Or worse, the revolving dispenser coil rotates to a completely empty slot, yielding nothing.
  • Better than nothing - If you pushed the wrong buttons for some reason, too bad. You're getting what you asked for, even if it's not what you wanted to ask for. In this and the above instance,the machine doesn't care. Nor should it; because fuck you, it did its job and also, fuck you. 
  • Complain at your own risk - You can register your displeasure by shaking the machine until it gives you what you want. Just keep in mind that the machine reserves the right to kill you.
  • Best case scenario - Let's say you pushed the right button and the machine is going to give you what you requested. Your reward arrives when your chunks of orange salt or congealed chocolate goo or whatever it is drops with a thunk into a metal bin at the bottom, only because the machine is not built to sneer at you and throw it on the floor. This is the almost exactly the same thing, though.
It's sad, but what choice do you have when you're broke, hate yourself and didn't bring anything for lunch?


Unknown said...

They prefer to be called a Snack Robot

Clark Brooks said...

True. But they still hate us.