by Mark Simple
About 20 years ago, I travelled to Washington DC with my family. After doing the usual touristy things (target practice at the FBI, receiving free $20 bills at the Bureau of Printing and Engraving), we stopped at a large cafeteria that served food Automat-style. Automats were supposed to be the cafeterias of the future; a large wall separates the kitchen from the dining area, and functions as a large vending machine. You select your foodstuffs from glass doors, put your money in the appropriate slot, open the door, and withdraw your dinner. Heavenly. Scott Berk, our illustrious staff chemist, indicated to me that he was heading down to DC for a short while. After a making a few calls, I found the following message on my answering machine:
"I'm calling from Washington DC regarding the information you requested for the food automatic facility. I've checked with the Smithsonian and various other tour organizations within Washington, and no, that particular place is not here at this time; we certainly hope you still will come and enjoy Washington; we do have cafeterias in place of the food automatic. Thank you for calling our office of Tourism and Promotion."I have passed the word along to Scott -- be rest assured, they do have cafeterias in Washington DC. Now I'm wondering if there are ANY Automats left - I'm sure there's some rotty Automat Appreciation Society somewhere.
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