Shark attack on the third shelf near the Fritos.

As Summer takes its final bows for this year, people can look back over their shoulders at the nice vacations they took. Many good folks flocked to the beaches, to splash in the waves, and feel the hot summer sun on the sand, as they wriggled their toes . But among those, are the ones who were, and still are, a bit terrified of touching those toes to the ocean water. Because somewhere, out there, in the dark depths, is a shark. Or more. And they are scared witless about the prospects of meeting, eye to eye, with one of those sharks.

It makes the news, that’s for sure. The National headliners grab those stories up. “Shark attack off the coast of California.” “Surfer killed by shark.” And on.
But, in the weights and measures of things, it doesn’t happen that often. Not comparatively to other ways of dying. Say, car wrecks, or taking Selfies.

But the “fact” that always gets me is this: Vending machines kill 4 times as many people as sharks per year. Four times as many. Of course, we can all do the math. I’ve found that in 2019, two people have been listed as killed by shark attack. And 21 people have been bitten in the U.S. alone.

So that means eight people have died by Vending Machine this year. Heaven only knows how many have been injured. But here is the thing. Either I’m sleeping through the headlines on those stories, or they are not getting reported. Or perhaps, they simply are not happening.

But let us suppose. There you are, at some public venue, with a row of vending machines lined up against the wall. All of them plugged in, waiting, humming, filled with Cheetos, and Twinkies. You fiddle for change in your purse or pocket, keeping one keen eye on that machine. Making sure that it doesn’t do anything rash. But there you’ve found it. A quarter, and two dimes. Enough for a pack of Famous Amos Cookies. You nudge closer, carefully, and drop the money into the slot. You step back quickly, keeping your hands and feet away from the beast. Astutely, sharply, you turn your eyes to the letter/number combination, making sure you have it right. B-45. The keyboard feels sticky under your finger as you press the combination. You jump back! The thing begins to move! The coil inside rotates, inching, pushing, nudging the cookies toward the edge off the shelf, and then. Drop! to the pocket below. Now. (Here comes the worst part.) You must press open the door, and retrieve the Famous Amos bag from the mouth of the behemoth. You move quickly, stealthily, punching and grabbing all in one motion, and there you are! A victory, cookies in hand, a swath of accomplishment rushing over you. And then. You decide, you would like a Sprite….

But. Once again, you have escaped certain death at the vending machine, and the world can breathe easy again.

I’m not sure about these “facts” that tumble into our lives.
The next one on the list says: “More than 2,500 left-handed people are killed every year from using equipment meant for right-handed people.”

That’s a whole lot of left-handers. Right down the old drain.

I told you about running with scissors. Especially right-handed ones.

I guess if we learn anything, we should live our lives like there’s no tomorrow. Unless of course, you are making financial investments for retirement. In which case, be careful out there.


“When in danger or in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout.”
― Herman Wouk


“How dare you open a spaceman’s helmet on an uncharted planet? My eyeballs could’ve been sucked from their sockets!”
― Disney’s Toy Story


“Monsters exist, but they are too few in number to be truly dangerous. More dangerous are the common men, the functionaries ready to believe and to act without asking questions.”
― Primo Levi