Don’t beat on that machine

By Steve Estes

Strictly Drivel by Steve Estes

Though the times have been very few and far between, I have seen the occasion where slapping or kicking a machine actually does some good.

But rarely.

Most of the time, the kicker usually walks away with a war wound of some kind and the machine still sits idly by doing absolutely nothing, which is generally the reason given for someone slapping or kicking the machine in the first place.

I did have one occasion where assaulting a machine actually worked in the past few years. I had a recalcitrant computer that didn’t want to do anything it was asked.

My computer-geek son told me to smack it to reseat whatever part had stopped working temporarily.

So I did. It worked.

Thus was I surprised to find a fellow human being the other day attempting all manner of assault on a simple vending machine.

And losing.

From what I could gather from the diatribe issuing forth from a somewhat foul mouth, our machine-beater had decided that popping some coins in a vending machine for a cold beverage was a better plan than walking the extra steps into the store he was in front of to get the same cold beverage from a real human.

Whereas the human could have answered his complaints, showed him how to open the cooler door if necessary, taken his money in some non-machine-like fashion and actually smiled and said thank you, this unlucky guy decided that the impersonal attentions of a vending machine were preferable to the extra 10 yards or so that would have needed to be traversed to interact with a real flesh-and-blood human being.

As an aside, and I really can’t validate this, the guy, who had an advanced cell phone on his hip of some kind, probably also texted across the car seat and walked while checking emails.

He dropped in the coins. He pushed a button. Nothing issued forth.

His first try was to push the refund button. Nothing issued forth.

His second try was to push the refund button harder. Nothing issued forth.

His third try was to hit the vending button again. I guess if at first you don’t succeed….nothing issued forth.

His next move was to curse softly to himself. Something issued forth, but not from the vending machine.

One more try at the refund button. Nothing issued forth.

The curse got a little bit louder.

He wound up and slapped the machine about head high. Nothing issued forth.

Undaunted, he wound up and slapped the other side. Nothing issued forth.

He must have figured that the guts of the machine were down lower, so he bent slightly and whacked the unsuspecting, and unmoving, machine across the midsection. Nothing issued forth.

The curse was much louder this time.

He reared back and kicked the machine, just about where a short man would feel intense pain. Nothing issued forth.

He was wearing sandals. Plenty issued forth, but not from the machine.

Now hobbled but not broken, he decided that the machine must be trying to extort more money, so he dropped another coin in the slot. Nothing issued forth.

Desperate and frazzled, hobbled from his previous unsuccessful attempt to kick the machine into submission, he stepped closer and proceeded to bang on the machine like a jealous lover at the front door with a strange car in the driveway. Nothing issued forth.

Holding a bruised hand, limping on a bruised foot, this was either one macho guy, or someone with too few brains for too much body, and I believe the battle had become an intensely personal one for him, because he wound up and smacked the machine right across what would be your or my face with an open hand (the other one—the un-bruised one from the previous attempt) only to discover that—nothing issued forth.

Broken, beaten, limping, bruised and dejected, he opened the floodgates on his mouth and thence issued forth a string of invectives I hadn’t heard since my military days when superiors were trying to make me believe they held any real power over my ironclad contract.

And then, when all else failed, he actually began to walk the 10 yards into the store where he probably should have gone in the first place.

The machine stood in the waning sunlight.

Undaunted. Undented.

Waiting.

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