From the Canadian Medical Association Journal, December 9, 2003:
Weight of vending machine that toppled over, killing Bishop’s University student trying to rock a drink loose: 418 kg
Number of deaths caused by toppling-over vending machines in past 20 years: 35
There was no food left in my house. Not even the basic building blocks with which one can make food. Plus, we were out of laundry detergent, diapers, all the things that make this crazy little machine I call a household keep humming. Things were getting dire. As much as it killed a part of me, I knew it was time to go to Wal-Mart. I feel like I give up a piece of myself every time I go there. But DAMN, that’s some cheap toilet paper! So away I went.
I wandered the aisles, feeling my cerebral cortex turn to glue. I had amassed so much crap the left rear wheel on the cart was threatening to pop off. I found a check out line with only one customer in front of me. The strained look on said customer’s face should have been a clue. I get to the cashier. She is young. Under 18. Not a lot going on in the eyes. Breathing through the mouth.
“How are you tonight ma’am?”
“I’m good thanks. How are you?”
And for one brief moment, all the clarity of the universe comes to me. I’ve made a terrible mistake.
“Oh my god, I’m so tired? And I’m getting sick? My pants are too tight? My manager’s so maaad at me, cuz she thinks I should be working harder? But I’m, like, I’m too tiiiired?”
No, she’s not asking me a question. She has this horrifying yet entrancing way of making every statement a question. Maybe it’s a speech impediment.
“And we’ve been so deeead here? And if it doesn’t pick up, my manager is gonna make me do zoniiing? And she’s all, ‘You’re just gonna sleep if I do that.’ And I’m all, ‘No, I’m goin’ hooome’?”
Oh for the love of christ, move it along. “Mmm hmm.”
“And theeen? My boyfriend and I were up all niiiight? And his mom is so mad at him? She’s, like, gonna send him to a group home in B.Ceeee? But I’m not gonna let that happennnn?”
Is this seriously happening? I’m not famous enough to get Punk’d. “Mmm.”
“Oh my god? You’re gonna haaaate me? This peanut butter won’t scaaaan?”
“OK, never mind. I’ll leave it.” It’s not worth it. I’m getting ready to yell fire, just to get out of here, so no, don’t worry about the fucking peanut butter.
18 minutes have now elapsed. Mercifully, we get to the end. I pay. She bids me a “good niiiight?” I look down. The cap has come off a shampoo bottle.
“Um?” I hold it up for the cashier to see, idiotically thinking she will offer a solution.
“It was NOT like that when I put it in the baaaag? Go to customer serviiiiice?”
I glare. Hard. Raining down buckets of fury on her. My best glare, capable of making fuzzy woodland creatures spontaneously combust.
She stares, mouth open. Then she turns to her co-worker. “So, like, oh my gaaaawd, what did he say when he saw you last niiiiight?”
Impervious. Absolutely unaffected by all my rage. All my useless, useless rage.
While standing in the customer service lane, ready to ask who the fuck had hired the twit in lane 14, I managed to snap the top onto the shampoo bottle. I nearly ran out of the store, so relieved not to have to be in the same enclosed space as She Who Is Impervious to My Rage.
Rage makes me thirsty. Diet Coke is the only thing that will quench it.
The machine in the vestibule is out.
I move on to diet Coke’s less attractive cousin, Diet Pepsi.
The machine accepts my money. I hear the thud of the can falling. I look down.
It’s stuck. Behind an abandoned can of 7-Up, also stuck. It’s purchaser had given up.
I. Have Had. Enough.
It is late. There are not many people around. The one guy that is out in the vestibule with me has the good grace to look away. Game on.
I rock the machine. Viciously. Then, I start to kick the shit out of it. I swear. A lot. Then I start a spastic dance that combines kicking, rocking and swearing. The tornado of rage is starting to build again.
The universe winks.
The can drops.
I am never going back. (For the rest of the month.)