Because I am one of the people of a particular vintage who can recall when vending machines had really good selections and could be found in break rooms across the country, I have been taking for granted for years that vending machines and microwaves go hand in hand.
A long time ago or back in the 80’s, vending machines could be utilized to accommodate the on-the-go food needs of a busy society. We used them all the time when the mobile canteen didn’t show up at the print shop. We used them when we got to work a few minutes early and thought our doughnut would not be enough to power us through the morning and so we reached for a bagel with cream cheese to supplement our dose of sugar.
All the while we were carrying on our respective love affairs with our vending machines, we could count on there being a microwave to help heat up whatever perishable we had purchased. Eureka! Therein lies at least one of the differences between the vending machines of today and yesteryear.
At the rest stop yesterday (it actually wasn’t much of a rest), I took care of the business that hours on the road tends to present and subsequently perused the vending machines. I was actually a little excited that I would be getting up close and personal with vending machines once more and especially at a rest area.
Much of the time on the road we are lucky to find a working water fountain so we can have a drink of local H2O before hitting the road again. But yesterday there was going to be vending machines!
Talk about a letdown
Yes, there were vending machines; almost half a dozen of them, actually. And they were in a cut out hut that could only be described as a vending machine bus stop. That was at least what it looked like to me. Anyway, upon further examination, I realized there was nothing perishable in these vending machines. These machines only contained things like pop/soda, chips, candy bars and processed beef (I use that term lightly). Sure, they were vending machines, but they didn’t have anything I wanted.
If there had been a Slim Jim or two available I might have bit. Get it? Bit? Anywho, I walked away sad, realizing that refrigerated vending machines are probably too expensive to be maintained. And after all, profit is what vending machines are all about I guess.
But I was also thinking, that there would have had to have been a microwave in order to heat up the delightful cheeseburgers I had enjoyed so many years ago.
Then I got to thinking even more that there should be a smart phone app that is a portable microwave.
Then, rest stops could save on the expense and maintenance of cleaning microwaves in addition to rest rooms, for busy motorists.
If only smart phones were so smart. Could it actually one day come to pass? Could vending machines return to their former glory days of not so distant history with the help of an app? And could they once more be refrigerated and found at rest areas across America?
Or, much like pinball machines, will they always be resigned to relic status, only to be found in a hobbyist’s basement next to electric shuffleboard games?
Apps like maps are pretty important. But if we had a portable microwave app to go along with them, so we could know where all the refrigerated vending machines at rest stops are with food we could heat up with it, well, then, that’d be pretty cool, too, wouldn’t it?
Well, wouldn’t it? Challenge on, app developers.