Coffee horrors: automated store spiraling, part II

Years ago, I categorized a nearby automated store as unusual art on display (part I of this article explains why). An odd structure to be pondered from a distance and expect nothing functional in return. I was ok with this arrangement for some time. Then, one day, I set out for work and forgot…COFFEE!

Walking to my office in a caffeine-free fit of stomping irrationality, I reach the ever-present automated store. Its shelves are as bare as all days before with lighting harsh enough to see through bone. A crow screeches in the distance.

From the street, I stop and stare at the automated store and its fancy automated coffee machine. The coffee machine glistens proudly amongst the barren wasteland of displays. Topped by a glass bin of coffee beans, the unit screams clean and functioning caffeine joy.

I debate for several minutes by making excuses for this wreck of a business and ignoring all rational thought. Nothing justifies my next move other than sheer hope for a coffee miracle.

I place a coffee cup on the tray and press a button. A horrible grinding sound begins. I convince myself this is the sound of coffee beans being prepped for the best-tasting coffee in the world (beans picked fresh from a beautiful orchard in another land by a handsome and shirtless man).

Suddenly a giant black hose on the side of the unit does a little dance. Pressure in this area quickly morphs into a crescendo of hissing madness.  I take a few steps back just in time to miss huge globs of moldy horror spitting from the machine into the cup and surrounding sticky surfaces.

How does one handle a situation like this? Under the best of circumstances, I see no other way than the way I handled it. I screamed, cussed a little, and ran the rest of the way to work.

I am left with so many questions.

Automated store spiraling

As an introvert, I was initially quite pleased with the concept of an automated store (both as a customer and as a potential investor). The idea of purchasing products in-person, or selling products, without human interaction sounded like a delightful prospect.

Unfortunately, experiencing this type of store first-hand as a customer over the last four years has been disappointing.

With no need for customer interaction, employee focus is ordering supplies, stocking shelves, cleaning the environment, maintaining/monitoring technology and customer surveillance. Regarding the store I frequent, this list of tasks does not appear to be achievable.

I am baffled. The shelves of this store remain bare on a consistent basis. It is now a running joke with friends as to how long the same solitary package of pickles will remain (as of the writing of this article, it is two months). On the rare occasion (approximately every three months) that products exist in the store, the touchscreen available to purchase the items rarely works.

My first thought is that the store is a front for criminal activity. I can think of no other rational explanation. No one in their right mind would burn through rent money for retail space and not invest effort in the business. 

Maybe the empty store is run by a maniac who regards all of humanity with such disdain that the goal is to impose a minor daily irritant of no products upon the masses. Slowly chipping away at the well-being of all potential customers.

I guess the owner could be lazy, but that seems unlikely. Why go through all the paperwork and fees to start a business if the goal is to do nothing?

We have so many ups and downs during our short existence on this planet; it could very well be that the person running this location is going through a rough patch. I hope this is not the case.

In all fairness, this bare-shelf issue is probably my own fault. I am terrible at reading signage. I am sure I have just misinterpreted what this retail space is all about. Since I see refrigerated shelves containing one item, coffee machines that spit out anything but coffee, freezers and a broken touchscreen, I assume they exist to provide me with food. When, in reality, this retail space is a portal into another dimension.

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