Has a machine spoken to you lately?
Our first experience was some while ago when a trash can said, ''Thanks for not littering,'' in a tinny falsetto voice. At least we think that is what it said. It was late in the day, the trash can was tired, and its lid squeaked.
Now more things have started talking. It is bad enough when you go through a toll booth and the coin box growls ''Thank you'' after you throw quarters into it, but talking soft drink machines are really the pits.
The whole idea of standing there, listening to what a slightly rusty bottle-dispenser has to say is revolting in the extreme.
In fact, it's insulting. The machine expects you to pay strict attention while it talks, but it has no intention of listening to you in return. In fact if you try putting in a word or two it will very likely shut you up by interrupting you.
One thing these dispensers say is, ''Make your selection, please!'' As if you were too stupid to know why you came to the machine in the first place.
And after it speaks it stands there burping and gurgling with refrigerator noises, waiting for you to do what it told you.
Furthermore, it pays no attention to your answer, which might be: ''This is a lousy selection'' or ''Where can I get an old-fashioned Nehi?''
Notice it uses the word ''please'' which is a travesty in language. Please is supposed to mean ''If you wish.'' But in this case if you don't do what the machine says you lose your money.
We understand that this horror is going to go on in several different languages besides English; namely, French, German, Spanish, and (you guessed it) Japanese.
What we expect the next machine to say to us is: ''Hi, sucker. You are paying too much for your drink if you continue to support all this overhead.''
The end is not yet in sight. Other gadgets are in the planning stages. But we hereby give fair warning to talking drink machines. We will stand for just so much nonsense from robots which take our money. Cross us up in any way, withholding either drink or money, and you are going to get the same resounding thump we used to give your old-fashioned, illiterate ancestors.