Vending Machines

Thwarted by obtuse
would-be technology – argh!
Japan on my mind.
Trying to pay cash at a self-checkout machine: my $20 goes in, and out, in, and out, in, and out, until it is almost perfectly ironed and there are no more untried ways of inserting it, short of folding it into a paper carne. I am told, by a badly pixilated screen, that my money is “not accepted” and that I should “try another mode of payment” or “wait for attendant”. Almost apoplectic with frustration and with no attendant in sight , I pocket my unwanted $20 bill, leave sans toothpaste and 75% salted almond chocolate . . . and dream of Japanese vending machines.
In Japan, you can go to any of millions of vending machines – in cities, in the country, on mountains, in stations, everywhere – and pay for a ¥100 (1$) item with pretty much any coin or bill. There is no suspenseful waiting, frustrating reinserting after you’ve slipped in a ¥10,000 bill. Whatever you are buying (a hot or cold drink; a mini barrel of Suntory whiskey, a net of fresh eggs; ear phones; a hot dog or even underwear) and whether you are in Ginza, on Mt. Fuji or at the edge of a tiny village, the machine will just take your money and within seconds dispense the exact change and thank you with a cheery “arigato gozaimashita”.
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