I like to think of myself as a pretty rational person. In the 14 years I've lived in New York City, I've never gotten in a shoving match on the subway, punched a cab hood, or shrieked aloud in a 20-minute Whole Foods checkout line. I patiently wait my turn at crowded bars, resist the urge to body-check tourists who stop dead in the middle of busy sidewalks to snap group pictures (really – please don't do that!), and say no...no...that's okay when the neighbors' double-wide stroller runs over my toes - again.
So why do malfunctioning vending machines turn me into a total nutjob?
If I had, I'd be in ample, if agitated company. There's something about the rejection, the denial, the non-acknowledgment by the very robots we built to do our bidding that causes otherwise normal people to fly off into a white-hot, occasionally lethal rage. For it is not enough for the metal monsters to steal our hard-earned cash and coins; sometimes they maim. Sometimes, they kill.
Vending machines are responsible for approximately two deaths annually in the US, and countless injuries ranging from broken bones to wounded pride. They bear warning stickers promising, even illustratively diagramming the physical peril into which a scorned, machine-tilting customer might place his or her peckish self. Yet it is rarely the machine that ends up in traction or having to explain away embarrassing knuckle bruises incurred in pursuit of a single ounce of middling trail mix or a honey bun of dubious vintage. (Not that it's happened to me...yet.)
Yet still we try. Is it the hunger? The addlepation brought on by rapidly dwindling blood sugar? The deep-down knowledge that this is just another step toward the robots' impassive, plastic-faced domination of the human race? Perhaps I just need to take a chill pill.
They sell those in the vending machine, right?