AS the next instalment of The Terminator reminds us all, there is a sense of tension dealing with certain machines in life.
For example, the chip machine.
It's always a relief when the packet drops to the tray, rather than leaving you and the crisps hanging.
No one likes to lose their $2 in a defective shopping trolley mechanism either.
I've seen semi-hysterical people at supermarkets clawing at the slot of their trolley trying to reclaim what is rightfully theirs, and looking back I realise that person was me.
And then there's the new-fangled parking ticket machines in town. Amazing semi-solar-powered creations able to transmit credit card details across the universe and yet as mysterious to work as Windows 8.
Especially when you're in a hurry.
When it come's to parking, I'm like crime: I don't like to pay. Hence I'll park great distances away from where I've got to go and reassure myself that I need the exercise. But recently I was in a bit of a hurry getting to work and lo and behold there was a spot in the coveted "$5 all day" area, rather than the "$3 per hour rort zone", so I slotted in.
I had coin in the car, but I opted for credit card because I thought that'd be quicker.
That was my first mistake.
First glance at the machine revealed four buttons with little pictures next to them: -, +, x and P.
I figured "P" stood for "pay" but soon discovered it stood for "persevere".
That's because I couldn't intuit the no doubt intuitive process involved in giving someone my money. This is surely a design fault, right? Because I'm the customer, and the customer is always stupid. I mean right. Right? Wrong.
Like any great journey, you have to start somewhere, so I started pushing buttons. Or did it start pushing my buttons?
It would have helped if I could read the little digital screen on the modern parking ticket machine. But some genius has made them so that at any time of the day or night it's like looking into Fifty Shades of Grey.
That's right, almost unreadable.
Next part, the ergonomics. To add to the joy, they've made modern parking ticket machines at a height that would suit Shetland ponies. Consequently six-foot humans have to stoop and peer real close until the pixellations make sense, and then they have to guess what to do next.
I suggest "focus, centre, breathe and try again", because chances are the ticket machine will have reset while you do your lunge/squat/squint, which, by the way, is great for the quads, but bad for the retinas and blood pressure.
Eventually I could make out that it was telling me to insert my credit card, which brings us to the Murphy's Law-like law about inserting credit cards.
There are four possible ways to insert a credit card wrong. And when you're in a hurry you will use all four of them before forgetting which ones you've used before and doing it another eight times.
The recommended reaction is to, again, focus, centre, breathe and try again.
Eventually you will notice there is a little picture indicating the correct way to insert your credit card. If you are anything like me, hold a mirror to this image to reverse what you suspect, based on how often you put T-shirts on back to front, is a mild form of spatial dyslexia, and you will get the credit card in the correct way.
Then comes the wait while NASA connects with mission control to drain your credit card. For some reason, and it may have something to do with solar flares affecting power supply to the ticket machine, connecting with mission control can take an inexorably long period of time.
And you thought waiting for a packet of chips to drop was tense. If this was a skimming operation, the council would be broke. Hang on, the council is broke. Often you start imagining the sound of a ticket being printed, when in fact it's a brown bomber printing one out for you, because it's taken so long to execute at the meter.
Then you realise it's taking an inexorably long time because your transaction has been cancelled, four times, with three different credit cards.
So I huffed back to the vehicle with the intention of getting some coin. What I didn't huff back to the vehicle with the intention of doing was to lock my keys in the vehicle.
On some days, things like this happen. I lost the rhythm. Instead of "grab coin, grab keys, lock door, shut door" I grabbed coin, locked door, shut door, grabbed keys ... doh!
This took the experience to a new Confucian level. I now had coin to get my ticket but didn't have access to dash to put ticket on, thus I may as well have not had ticket. And I had been trying to save time.
Luckily I had a witness who was able to supply copious amounts of empathy, because he was in the middle of the same exasperating dilemma - waiting for me to give him a shot at the credit card slot.
I meanwhile uttered audible obscenities in the vicinity of not only a school, but a cathedral and a court house. Ye strike me down.
Just when I thought the world really had it in for me I noticed that just this once, I'd left a door unlocked on my vehicle.
Finally, the most unlikely of machines - my car - had worked in my favour. And like Terminator, I was back ... at work.