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Have you seen this machine?

Come here, little girl. I have candy.
Come here, little girl. I have candy.

If so, step away. It’s armed and dangerous and has a history of assaulting the confidence of adult women and causing irreparable damage to one’s self-esteem.

I’m not kidding. This robo-jerk is at work. We have a self-catered snack bar filled with delights such as pita chips, roast beef sandwiches, and Special K. It’s the stuff Dilbert’s dreams are made of. I too enjoy having a wealth of snacks available at my fingertips (literally. You can pay with your fingerprint.) But I do not appreciate the complexity and paralyzing fear I face every time I try to pay. (With money. Not my appendages.)

See?

Oh my god, what do you want from me???
Oh my god, what do you want from me???

That’s not a reenactment. That’s my real face.

 First, I have no idea if I need to wake the sleeping machine by tapping it gently on the screen, waving my hand in front of it’s camera, or throwing my bag of Sun Chips at it. So I do all three. And then I remember I’m on camera (the whole room is monitored so, you know, some freaked out, panicky employee doesn’t run off with three ounces of cubed cheese and a pouch of ranch dressing.) Upon realizing I’m being recorded (by whom? I don’t know but what a fun job that must be) I immediately try to act all cool and composed and do so by muttering things to myself like “Oh ha, yeah, that’s right machine, wake the hell up, you must be broken, you dummy.” And then I sink even further into depression upon realizing I’m now on camera talking to myself. Or scratch that. To a machine. There. That’s not as bad.

Then comes the time when I seriously consider throwing my Fiber One bar down and just leaving. I don’t need it that bad. I can get the same damn bar from the vending machine on the fourth floor for $.60 less! I don’t need this harassment!

But dammit! I made it this far. I can’t let the machine win. And without the daily-recommended fiber intake coursing through my veins, I’ll never make it to the fourth floor. So I persevere. (This is what is known as a teachable moment, friends.)

I tap, prod, chatter, wave, brandish, whimper, play it cool, fail at playing it cool, nudge, poke, punch, pinch, and scan. Scan works every time. Why don’t I remember that? Wait. What were we talking about? Oh right, that’s why.

I (usually) walk away with a snack that is so overpriced even an airport newsstand would cry foul.

Does this happen to you? It does, right? Surely there’s an ATM or grocery self-checkout stand that’s got your number. All I can say is stand up for what you believe! You want peanut-butter crackers and banana crème Muscle Milk? Go for it! Don’t let any machine tell you different. Of course you could also bring snacks from home but where’s the fun in that?

Shelly Mazzanoble

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