“That’s okay,” I say to the vending machine.
You see, the vending machine thanks us when we buy things from it. As in, actually, verbally, thanks us. Not just something written on the LCD screen, but actually out loud. I know!
My colleagues think little of it. A few of us have started replying to it though. It’s pretty funny, and gives us something to do on our tea breaks. We seem to talk more to the machine than to each other. Perks of the job, I suppose.
The thing is, though, ever since I read Paul McKenna’s I Can Make You Sandwiches last week, I’ve been seeing embedded commands everywhere. My theory is this. The machine isn’t thanking us for buying things. It’s thanking us for removing the items, like it asks. It’s thanking us for following its instructions. It’s like Pavlov’s dogs. The vending machine is conditioning us to do what it says without question.
I set the fire alarm off last week. PLEASE SET OFF THE SMOKE ALARM, it said.
Of course I blamed it on a colleague. Dave was new. He didn’t really need the job anyway, not like us. We’ve been here so long we’re almost part of the factory. He was fired shortly after that.
I don’t really feel as guilty as I ought to. I’m only telling you this because, well… The last command it gave was PLEASE DEMOLISH THE WAREHOUSE. Now, I’m not sure, but I think the timer’s getting pretty close to detonation right about now.
Look, I know you’re a kettle, but don’t tell anybody, yeah?