Yes, I can be a snob sometimes. For example, I’ve always looked down upon proles who live off of vending machines/ convenience stores. There was a time, long ago, when I worked at a convenience store. Over the course of my two years there, I learned to distinguish between different types of customers. There were a) criminal types, b) proles, c) addicts, d)hard-workers and e) occasional visitors.
The criminals often didn’t have driver’s licenses due to too many D.U.I.’s. They would operate within the neighborhood and would feel safer at the local 7-eleven, than at a supermarket, buying their drug paraphernalia, shoplifting or loitering with other criminals.
There was a lot of overlap between the criminals and the proles, but proles lacked the sense to save money by shopping at a normal grocery store or discount grocery store. All they knew was “I’m hungry now so I’ll visit the 7-eleven and get me some nachos and a hotdog.” They got hungry every day – so I’d see them at the store every day. It never occurred to them to buy hotdogs or chips and prepare their own. Their very existence was defined by a high time-preference.
7-eleven specializes in selling products that people are addicted to: Cigarettes, lottery tickets and alcohol. My favorites were the drunken gamblers who would buy scores of scratch tickets, scratch them off in the store and then leave; I would go through their rejects after they left and usually find some winners they’d missed. I hated selling cigarettes because I consider it a disgusting habit. More than once I’d refuse to sell cigarettes to customers who walked in smoking. They’d say, “if you sell cigarettes, why can’t I smoke here?” I’d say, “good thing we don’t sell guns!” People who are addicted to beer often forget to stock up on it during weekdays. They’d come in on Sunday or after 11:00 (when local blue-laws forbade the sale of alcohol) and demand beer.
Hard-workers would arrive around 5:00-6:00 in the morning on their way to work. They’d buy a cup of coffee or something to eat. They didn’t have the time to wait in line at a supermarket. It was always a pleasure to see them; it meant that the “freak hours” were over, and normal people were re-entering the world.
Occasional visitors were average people who, for whatever reason, needed something on the spur of the moment and happened to be driving by.
I’m not against vending machines, but it seems to me that they encourage a passive mode of thinking. At my current job, I see people who earn very little – yet they continue to feed the vending machines every day. I wonder at such people. The company provides refrigerators, and lunch-boxes/ice-boxes are cheap. Don’t they realize, on their weekends, that they’ll want a cold soda each day during their work-week? Do they not understand that they could save a lot of money by purchasing 12-packs and bringing them to work a couple at a time? I can only conclude that they’re stuck in the vending-machine mentality. They are vending-machine people who are trained to look to the machine for their daily sustenance. The machine nurtures their high time-preference and reinforces it.
As the vending-machine person stands before the machine, his eyes survey the choices: Coke, cherry coke, diet coke etc. If it’s not in the machine, it doesn’t exist. The vending-machine is rather like our “mainstream media”. If a point of view is not represented on T.V., it does not exist. “These are your choices” say both the vending-machine and the T.V. “There are no other choices.”
Hardly a day goes by that I don’t see a vending-machine person kicking the machine because it failed to return his change, or because it failed to deliver the product. The vending-machine person will kick and curse – but he’ll be back the very next day, sure as the sun. I’ve never seen a vending machine person get angry at a machine, and then turn around and say, “this is crazy; tomorrow I’ll bring my own drinks.” There is a silver lining to all this: It provides entertainment for me as I sit and drink the juice I’d brought from home. I love watching people get angry with vending-machines. Does this mean I’m a bad person? Never mind; don’t answer that.