Restroom Vending Machines

I’m in mourning over this one. And yes, I took that picture. You can tell by the blurred lines and the glare on the tiles.

This is a vending machine in the women’s bathroom of a fairly busy almost-local mall. It’s a chain mall, so these are chain vending machines, duplicated in basically every city in the chain’s region.

And yes, that’s sour drops candy. Yup, that’s a mystery toy. And pretty sure that’s overpriced-lip gloss, laced with coli form bacteria. (Pause for some dramatic retching.)

There’s a second bank of machines right next to it–not quite as ridiculous–sells tampons(two kinds!), pads, and some kind of headache pills. Ibuprofen, I think.

I’m sure you all know where this is headed.


There aren’t any.

Because… I’m really not sure why. Because it’s a middle-American mall, and middle-Americans don’t have sex? Because teenagers just love buying prophylactics from middle-aged cashiers who probably went to high school with their parents? Because glitter lip gloss really is that life-changing?


How difficult is that to understand? Maybe limit ourselves to ONE toy? Or ONE kind of tampon, for that matter. I’d prefer not to give up the Ibuprofen, but if we must have lip gloss, I suppose I can plan ahead.

I like vending machines, especially for something as personal–and important–as condoms.

Vending machines didn’t go to high school with your mother, and they’re not on speaking terms with her if they did. They’re private, or as private as they can be.

Any teenager can sneak away from the table to go to the bathroom. And no one asks what she was up to, when she gets back. She can find enough quarters to prevent a disease or a pregnancy in the cushions of the family sofa.

I happen to think vending machines are a better option than a drug store or a school nurse, or that “helpful” guy who hands out condoms on the street as a public service. (Yes. Yes, I did know someone like this. And, no. That would be a very bad idea.)

Still, you don’t run into condom machines in women’s restrooms all that often. When you do, you’re usually in a bar, or a truck stop. Gas station, maybe. Somewhere grimy, and vaguely undesirable.

Seems like there should be a closing comment here. Something about sexism, and pregnancy, and disease. Something about teenage girls, and college.

But at least there’s lip gloss.


    • Reply

      I guess that explains the shocking number of you who are running around completely un-glittered.

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