Saturday, March 06, 2010

Human vending machines

Driving by the Albertson's shopping center, I cringe for the people dressed in statue of liberty costumes trying to drum up business for the Income Tax service in the center. Could there be a worse job! Yes - you could be working inside a vending machine - the ultimate superfluous job.

Kit Kat's new Human Vending Machines combine the best elements of convenience foods, automatic vending, and slavery in one brutally delicious, schadenfreude-laden package. Basically a snack machine with a human being trapped inside, the machines put a personal face on candy vending transactions. Users put in their money, make their choice, and ask the man inside to send out the chocolate. The vendor, in turn, smiles at the customer, grabs the candy, and drops it into a slot.

There is no word yet on whether, underneath their smiles, the anonymous vendors are dying inside, asking themselves what series of bad choices led them to become nameless cogs in a snack-distribution empire. Similarly, one has to wonder if any of the vendors has found himself on a weekend-long alcoholic bender after selling a candy bar to his former prom date, a slickly-attired professional who pretended that she didn't recognize him.

The irony of this is delicious. 

The human in the kit kat machine reminded me of the famous human jukebox in Ghiradelli Square. He sat in a large packing box which he'd dubbed the Automatic Human Jukebox.  A sign said, "insert coin" next to a slit. After you deposited your money a flap would open; the guy inside would pop up and play the trumpet. The whole act was hilarious, everybody would stand around and laugh and laugh. Whenever I was in the vicinity, I made a point of dropping by to see him at work . 

I looked him up on line and apparently mental illness got the best of him and he died, a wreck, living in dumps in San Francisco. I hope the guys in the Kit Kat machines fare better. 


  1. Helen, You're a fantastic writer. I love reading your blogs. You need a BIG audience. Too many people are missing the opportunity of reading you. What shall we do? You always have such good ideas for us- we should put our heads together. It must be time for another lunch !!

  2. You're too kind. I'm not happy with most of my scribbling - but I'm hoping with practice, a decent "voice" will develop. Lunch anytime.