written/non-written things by me (from 2005-2008)

Monday, November 20, 2006

Technical Machine

Though even peasants have cell phones and many people walk around with little mp3 players dangling around their necks, self-service/vending machines are not apart of the gizmo/gadget landscape here in Beijing as much as they are in Japan, or at home-- with our profusion of drink and snack machines and spinny sandwich/pudding dispensers in most anyplace where a person could possibly be caught 1 minute without a food/beverage option.

Actually, ATMs are everywhere, but, here, I have only seen two vending machines, ever. First: a pespi machine in a home appliance store up the street; and the other, a canned coffee/tea machine in the airport terminal. That's all. But it makes sense. In the most populous country on earth, what's the need for labor-saving devices all over the place. There are plenty of people to employ and plenty of them would take any job, even if its just wiping pay phone hoods.

As of 2 days ago I can say that the THIRD VM is directly under my apartment! I noticed it the other night when I came upon a mass of old people huddled around a disquieting white glow outside the police workstation. Its just a water refill machine, quite commonplace the states, but this is fact extremely rare here. I have my 5 gallon jug of "mountain" water delivered on a bike trolley and then hauled up the stairs and then flipped upside down for me. But this "TECHNICAL MACHINE" delivers unto you FRESH OXYGEN CLEAN POWER HEALTH (in the form of water) 24 hours a day, without having to pay a percentage to the woman answering the phone to take the order, or the man that cleans the bottles, or the bike delivery guy. Just ease, quickness, and self-service. And right in our neighborhood, a place devoid of any such flashy technoligical modernity, apart from the jungle gym.

So coming home today, I noticed (because who wouldn't) the big inflatable bottle and the young color-coordinated 6 person marketing crew. They were handing out water samples (!), showing the people how to operate it, and generally making sure that people do use it rather than just walk past it staring curiously. I took a refreshing water sample from one of the smiling crew members and thought, Well at least they're saving no labor today.


My name is Hannah Pierce-Carlson