April 5, 2009
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Vending machines kill and injure people. It's the accident statistic that always gets
wheeled out by the papers – that, and injuries caused by tea
cosies. They say it's caused by machines falling on people. And you
wonder, how on earth does that happen?
The other day I knew I was going to be
working late. Delayed delivery of technical stuff by outsourced web
agency, client unhapy, yadda yadda. More than miffed, I sulked over
to the office chocolate machine in search of a Crunchie. In popped my
50p and I punched in the numbers. Weeee, went the machine, pushing
forward the confectionary. And stopped, with the Crunchie bar
teetering tantalisingly on the edge, but not falling.
Frustrated, I punched in the number
again. Go on, I thought. Just a nudge and it'll fall. But the machine
recognised that something was out of sync and decided that the
Crunchie line was out of order. No more Crunchies for us until the
vending machine man comes and sorts it out in the morning.
I was livid. Here, my one panacea for
my overworked soul was being denied me. I placed both hands on the
sides of the machine and tried to give it a shake. Just the smallest
of vibration would surely give me my chocolate! Fortunately I am
small and feeble and the machine stood solid. And then I knew how
people get killed by vending machines. All over the world, hacked off
people are just trying to get that one item to move that extra
millimetre. Dammit, it can't be that hard! It's right there! If it
weren't for this stupid glass I could touch it! Look at it, it only
needs one… small… nudge… as the whole edifice comes crashing
down. Crushed to death for want of a Crunchie.
Thankfully my red mist cleared before I
even tried to commit vending suicide (not that I'd have succeeded; as
I say, my weediness would not have budged that obelisk by any
distance at all). However, my story does have a happy ending. I got
my cash returned, put it in again and opted for, this time, a Toffee
Crisp. And the vibration of pushing forward that ricey treat also
made the Crunchie fall – two for the price of one! Maybe the god of
vending machines was smiling on me after all – and all those people
who are killed for their impatience would have been similarly
rewarded if they'd only been a bit more Zen. There's a lesson for us
all in this, I think.