Vending Machine Anxiety (Bend & Reach Strategy)

Vending machine anxiety? I can help.

I’ve got a system. And a strategy. Read on.


After leaving my office, I emerge from the stairs and look straight, then left, then right.

If someone is at the machine — or worse, if a line has formed — I turn right, act natural, and exit the building.

If someone is hovering approximately two feet away and it’s unclear whether they are contemplating a purchase or waiting for the elevator, I walk straight, act natural, and exit the building from the back.

If the coast is clear, I perform my transaction as fast as possible, then look left then right then left again before I attempt the bend & reach.

Vending Machine Anxiety

Even worse than the singular bend & reach is waiting for your credit card to “authorize” while a line begins to form. Then, if the card finally authorizes, you must perform your bend & reach with an audience.

Here is my strategy.

Bend & Reach Strategy

Even if I am alone at the machine, I employ the following in the event that someone suddenly appears down the hall. In a busy college building, this is always a possibility.

Step 1

Channel a grand plie from ballet dancing. If you’re not familiar, or it’s been a while, here’s a tutorial:

Step 2

Modify the plie. Turn your legs inward so your knees are in front of you but maintain the posture. Keep the entire torso and derriere in a straight line. Move quickly — quicker than the ballet dancer shown above.

Step 3

Retrieve your purchase. (Tip — it’s best to study the machine door in advance to know how to work it. Going in uninformed increases the risk of a line forming and generally drags out the bend & reach.)

Step 4

Return to standing position using relatively the same motion and speed.

While on the subject, here are a few other everyday vulnerabilities:

The Coffee Shop Name Call

Especially when your drink is of the pumpkin variety.

Latte Name Call

The Single Restroom Door-Hold

Restroom Door

The Neck Pillow

Thanks for reading! Does the bend & reach produce anxiety in you, too? If not, what does?

Say some things.

If you enjoyed this post on vending machine anxiety, you might like this one on small moments in Houston, TX


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  1. The single restroom door that doesn’t have the vacant/not vacant door handle. I can be bad at opening doors so I will try to pull it and if it doesn’t budge cue anxiety. Maybe it’s locked and someone is in there. So I knock. If I don’t get a response I question if I knocked loud enough, if I just didn’t hear them respond, maybe they are ignoring me, or maybe I just didn’t pull hard enough. Then I just awkwardly wait at least five minutes and try again. Many times its me not having pulled properly the first time. But like I also don’t wanna be banging away while someone is trying to use it because well that is rude. And I get anxious because I don’t want a queue to start only for them to find out I’m waiting in front of an empty bathroom I just couldn’t open properly.

    I also get anxiety about ringing door bells I cannot hear ring. Like did I actually ring it? Well now I need to wait at least five minutes to try again because I don’t want to pester you with repeated rings.

    1. Ah, these are two good ones! I definitely relate to the restroom one. Interesting on the door bells. I think I don’t ring that many door bells these days because I’ve been hiding in my house for so long, but I can see how that could be anxiety producing.

  2. No problems with vending machines, but using the copier in the copy room is very anxiety-inducing when a line forms behind you. And if the copier jams? Off the charts anxiety!

  3. While I certainly struggle with my own variations of anxiety, these ones are not typically one I struggle with. It was refreshing to read your perspective and to understand some of the things others struggle with. These are all things my boyfriend struggles with.

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by! Yes, some people said to me that they didn’t understand my post at all, ha! It’s just the bend and reach that gets me. 🙂 I’ve enjoyed hearing others’ perspectives as well.

      1. I don’t at all discredit your feelings, I know they are valid! Some of my anxieties don’t make sense to others either. 🙂

Say some things.