Rage against the vending machine
September 2nd, 2010
06:00 PM ET
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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?

A pristine dollar, re-emerging from its alloted slot, a dangling pretzel bag, the non-acknowledgment of the single nickel (inevitably my last) standing between me and a blood sugar nosedive while I'm stuck at the office past dinnertime: these are the things that mutate me from a sanguine soul to a rage-blind banshee. It's not at anyone, mind you and I can't swear that I've ever actually made an audible peep outside my own imagination. Colleagues in my office don't, at least to my face, call me "that crazy Coke machine puncher" so I'm assuming I haven't gone off into a vending-induced fugue and actually acted on my fury.

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?

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Filed under: Culture • Favorites • Office • Sip • Soft Drinks • Vending Machines


soundoff (506 Responses)
  1. Holly2463

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    August 12, 2011 at 11:17 pm |
  2. Espresso Cappuccino

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    April 7, 2011 at 3:16 am |
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    January 24, 2011 at 2:21 am |
  4. Dr. Crank

    Just a couple of years ago, I watched in amazement, while a fellow drove into a country store/gas station for gas and a Coke from a then brand new vending machine, out in the sticks in Oregon, his old (Willy's military) jeep covered in mud and weeds. He bought his gas and went for a Coke that didn't appear when paid for, his remedy was to pull out the cable from his front mounted winch (mechanical PTO, not a wimpy electric one) and wrap it around the the security cage that was bolted to the concrete, the vending "offender" was also bolted down, he proceeded to make a choker around the subject machine and cage, then sat in his drivers seat and engaged the PTO and calmly watch "Nelliebelle" go to work at 4,000 rpm through the winch, pulling the cage and vending unit twenty feet to his front bumper then continue pulling the cable till the combination looked like an hour glass, nearly shearing it in to two separate pieces. He then calmly unhooked the cable and wound it up, putting it away, then walked back in the country store and came out with what looked like a 40 ouncer in a bag and calmly drive off down the road. .....Just a little country boy JUSTICE !!

    September 13, 2010 at 9:58 pm |
  5. Tim

    Cut the cord off the backside of it. Consider it an act of stopping thieves.

    September 12, 2010 at 2:30 pm |
  6. scroo yoo

    I never use vending machines,but when they do take my money I run into it head first,like a billy goat

    sometimes I do the Homer Simpson running dropkick

    September 12, 2010 at 11:24 am |
  7. Just curious

    I always wondered why they put braille dots on the numbers. Wouldn't someone still have to be there to tell them what's loaded in that number?

    September 7, 2010 at 12:47 am |
  8. harold

    i don't get angry. i accept that as a part of life. when this happens i simply smoke some crack, go to the firing range, then a little high speed driving in the ally and sidewalk near my house. i may build a fire in a lot next door and practice various rescue methods in the neighborhood. There is no reason to take out your frustrations on an innocent machine. enjoy life!

    September 6, 2010 at 12:31 pm |
  9. Scene Red

    I love the Red Bull machine at my job but I hate when it runs out of sugar-free. Mr. RB Vendor if you're listening – we need more sugar-free red bull!!!

    September 6, 2010 at 12:22 pm |
  10. Porky

    Put dog crap in the tray and the coin return. Do that anyway, though, as protest against evil Vending Machine Czars everywhere. You'll need to have a bag, though. To tote your dog crap.

    September 6, 2010 at 7:54 am |
  11. Lizzy

    No wonder why the vending machines at my college are broken; so many people seems to have shaken them a bit too hard –before me.

    September 6, 2010 at 5:56 am |
  12. stu

    I love lamp....

    September 6, 2010 at 3:38 am |
  13. Thomas

    I vandalize the machine. He stole my money, I'm going to cost him some of his.

    September 5, 2010 at 8:19 pm |
    • RichardHead

      Thomas,Is this a stolen computer?

      September 5, 2010 at 8:40 pm |
  14. Samantha

    oh yea , n sorry "Andy" i gave u that in return ...

    September 5, 2010 at 6:40 pm |
    • RichardHead

      It's o.k. Samantha,he has "puffed many a bag in the supermarket section".

      September 5, 2010 at 6:49 pm |
  15. fat kid

    why dont they make vending machines that give whole cakes !!! @%#&^%)$@# !!!!

    September 5, 2010 at 6:37 pm |
  16. pinky

    i go into vending machines thru the change return door n get free cheezitz !!!

    September 5, 2010 at 6:35 pm |
  17. Ricky

    When I don't get my soda can from the vending machine, I remove the plug and cut it off. If it does not say out of drinks or empty, I feel nobody else should get ripped off by the machine. Fix it or leave it off. If you want to inconvenience the public then I'm going to inconvenience you. Take our money, then we just bought a plug.

    September 5, 2010 at 6:26 pm |
  18. RichardHead

    Andy wants his $1.50 back after going to the doctor.

    September 5, 2010 at 5:46 pm |
  19. Samantha

    The Mr. Noodles is sold for 1.50 more...

    September 5, 2010 at 5:36 pm |
  20. Samantha

    I made friends with the vending machine stocker. I'd time my 1st break to when "Andy" would come in to refill the machines. He didn't own the machines but worked for the bakery that would supply fresh items. So I'd broker deals with him. Instead of paying $3 for a sandwich, he'd often cut me a deal for $1.50. He'd then open up the coffee machine and I got my daily coffee for nada. Thanks "Andy"!

    The girl here isn't so nice... She charges $0.30 for a spoon and a 4 crackers for mini Mr. Noodles cups. Highway ROBBERY!

    September 5, 2010 at 5:35 pm |
  21. cookie monster

    i love oreos from vendin machins ... *stuffin my face*

    September 5, 2010 at 5:24 pm |
  22. Chris Duckworth

    I used to go to a youth group thing at a Methodist church after schools on Thursdays, even though I wasn't religious, it was just to meet friends and use their huge facilities for dodgeball, basketball, etc. Well they had a super old vending machine that dispensed candy for very reasonable prices, however it was one that you pulled a lever depending what candy bar you wanted and it slid down a chute. This damn thing would get jammed by candy bars too big to fit down the chute and you would literally see 5-10 candy bars blocking the chute, one day I flipped out and being a bit skinny, fit my entire arm up the chute and grabbed every bar from the chute as well as some from the individual slots. Needless to say they removed the machine in a couple of weeks.

    September 5, 2010 at 3:57 pm |
  23. PublicDocument

    We have a particular soda machine in my office that has turned into a slot machine type game. Some times you will turn up bust, others you’ll hit the jackpot. Just yesterday a coworker and I decided to try our luck; while he walked away empty handed I proudly displayed my three Cherry Cokes. (yes I did share)

    September 5, 2010 at 12:53 pm |
  24. Unconscious

    Mule kick it till it gives up the money. If no results are produced, mug the nearest hobo.

    September 5, 2010 at 12:18 pm |
  25. Julie

    dear guys thanks for the good laughs today its better than watching tv. I loved the note on the machine saying this machine steals coins i wonder if that applies to abama. the oil stole our jobs and obama said there were jobs. now i prefer the machine to him at least you get change obama you try to shake up the machine and your left with nothing.

    September 5, 2010 at 11:09 am |
  26. LB

    The food in vending machines is downright revolting. How many eons have those pulverized crackers been sitting there?

    Actually a bigger pet peeve of mine is nurses trying to force-feed me vending machine food. Every time I wake up from oral surgery or have a dizzy moment in the doctor's office, a nurse insists on bringing me peanut butter crackers and a Coke. I'm 6 months pregnant – isn't junk food on the bad list?

    September 5, 2010 at 10:04 am |
  27. TAMMY

    Jesus is from a vending machine.

    September 5, 2010 at 6:11 am |
  28. Blessed Geek

    Mr Obama – we voted for hope and change, but there still no hope that we would ever get the change we expect, from those @#$%^&!! vending machines.

    September 4, 2010 at 11:57 pm |
  29. man of men

    i want a vending machine that will dispense house wives !!! or hookers , whatever ...

    September 4, 2010 at 10:57 pm |
  30. kent

    "There it is beavis! Sour cream and salsa pork rinds!!!" "F-9"...

    "F-9??? YOU SANK MY BATTLESHIP!!!"

    September 4, 2010 at 9:44 pm |
  31. kent

    BUTT-HEAD! BUTT-HEAD! "are you forgetting someone..." "when you've forgotten your best friend, there's always..." "he just left me standing by the vending machine..."

    September 4, 2010 at 9:43 pm |
  32. kent

    I found a vending machine in Japan one time that had a sign on the top, "what a man needs most when he's away from his wife..." and seeing the hole on the front I looked both ways, stuck my wiener in, and put in the yen to make it start. After several minutes of screaming in pain it finally let go and I pulled out one swollen, red wiener to find it had sewn a button on the end.

    September 4, 2010 at 9:42 pm |
  33. kent

    i hate when you order an AA and then punch A, A not realizing after chips drop out when you ordered m'm's that there's a f'n AA button. I did not learn my AA, BB, CC's

    September 4, 2010 at 9:40 pm |
  34. kent

    Before that flap at the bottom it was hard time for vending machine owners. i'll have c-9. and every other item on the bottom row.

    September 4, 2010 at 9:38 pm |
  35. kent

    i want a vending machine that sells other vending machines. my god it'd be huge.

    September 4, 2010 at 9:38 pm |
  36. meowth

    vending machines are evil , i kicked one to steal a candy n broke my toe :(

    September 4, 2010 at 8:07 pm |
  37. Blastoise

    I love Vending machines in California that dispense Medicinal cannibis ... :) ... GGGRRRRRRR *high*

    September 4, 2010 at 8:06 pm |
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