progress ain’t so progressive

Vending machines from back in the day were clunky and huge. You pushed a button with a photo representation of the product you wanted, it fell through some labyrinth, took a few dings, and off you went. It was fast, efficient, and brutal.

Now I stand in front of a gleaming glass-faced obelisk. The actual drinks that you, with the price of admission, can hold in your hands are displayed and pleasingly lit as if from within. A robotic arm glides into view upon receipt of money, efficiently grabs your prize, guides it to a chute, and then into a clear cylinder, from which your Coke revolves into view.

But it’s all a deceit. The robotic arm and rotating cylinder deal was fascinating and fun the first time. Maybe even the first 5 times. Now, on the 100th time, I’m over it. I wait and wait for the little robot to do it’s thing, I count the beats as the cylinder rotates and door opens. I reach my hand in impatiently and wait some more knowing that my change won’t be offered up to me until the machine senses that I’ve taken my Coke.

I’m not a particularly good or methodical engineer, but I am and engineer, and every time I see that robot doing it’s mundane dance and count the beats until my change appears, I visualize in my mind’s eye Coke’s falling straight down into my waiting hands like they used to, the change clattering down as well almost simultaneously. Thanks to the view afforded by the glass front of these new machines I can actually see the path I wish my Coke were taking.

I’m really not sure what we’ve gained from this “improvement”.

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