It’s probably not right to laugh when I see it, but I can hardly keep from it. I’ve stood in those shoes; the hungry and heart broken side of the glass. Expectation is a hard thing to have stolen from you… even worse when it’s right before your very eyes.
You can tell a lot about a person by how they react to being ripped off in a business exchange. I guess personal expectations could even be worse. Some folks take it in stride, almost as if they’ve had their expectations pulled out from underneath them like a rug so often in life that they’ve come to expect it, like they might deserve to get shafted. Others might chalk it up to a fallen world and move on.
Then there are the other type of people, folks like me, they’re the ones it’s hard not to chuckle at when they stand in front of their desire. They can see it. They can pay for it. But they can’t have it… so close but yet so far.
The most heartbreaking occasion is when the object of our want or need moves toward the glass and metal cliff between a metal corkscrew spinning the treasure ever closer to us. But every once in a while, Providence, karma, or dumb luck falls to the vending machine side of the glass.
I’ve witnessed the bag of nuts in the hospital cafeteria or office building vending machine as it pushes toward the glass just to stop short of the drop off, like a kid chickening out of jumping off the cliff that’s a little too high. Disappointment lasts only as long as it takes the red hot blood to rush to the face. Usually at that point the sore loser yells too loud for the surroundings, “C’mon!” Typically open handed palm strikes to the machine just about shoulder height and to the side of the glass of the mocking machine. I know…
The nuts, cookies, chips, Diet Dr. Pepper, Diet Coke, or even water, never budge. They’re in it with the machine, they’ve made a pact behind the glass to wreck someone’s day. The hot headed loser sometimes at that point will usually yell one more time at the injustice of it all and punch the machine with a closed fist, not full speed, just about half… or so I’ve heard.
I wonder how many times I’ve been like that hard hearted vending machine in my life. We make implied promises only to break the heart of another soul by not fulfilling their expectations. Likewise, we tend to expect others to treat us as if they were a vending machine, put in the proper amount of time, effort, money, or any number of ways that tend to bring us to the point of expectation, and we’re like the hungry hot head, ready to give that person a piece of our mind. Or worse, walk off and vow to never be taken advantage of again.
The words of Christ don’t leave a lot up to interpretation, “If someone asks for your coat, don’t withhold your shirt from them.” Seems we’re not to treat others like we would a machine, but maybe I shouldn’t expect others to respond like one either.
It’s rarely a fifty-fifty trade off in this life and I’ve probably too often had the mindset that other people are like vending machines. If I were one I’d probably have my sides and glass kicked in by now. We don’t always get what we give, but then again, were not called to give in order to get, except for when it’s a vending machine…
After picking up my things, I turned, dropped my coins into the slot, pressed the plastic button with the back lit “Dr. Pepper”, and waited… Pressed the button again… Nothing. Pressed the coin release lever… Nothing… “Hey, Kevin, your machine just ripped me off!” I called to him in the back. He laughed with a too much pleasure, “Sorry, Floyd, it’s not my machine!”
Hhhhhuuuu… I rest my case…