Ian Fleming’s classic James Bond novel Goldfinger is divided, like most fiction has been since there was such a thing, into three acts. Taken from a line of dialogue spoken by the book’s eponymous villain, they are Happenstance, Coincidence, and Enemy Action. In reference to his second encounter with Bond, he states that unexpected meetings like theirs follow a pattern: "Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, three times is enemy action."
With that, then, I’m left to wonder nervously about the next time I encounter any sort of vending machine (or "sales robut", if you prefer) that chooses to present me with choices drawn from a senseless lexicon.
Last time, it was a stamp machine in Minneapolis, suggesting that I offer up some mojay – a particularly surreal flavor of happenstance, but happenstance nonetheless. This time, a gas station, considerably closer to home, gave me cryptic instructions demanding that I remove the nitrogen dioxide before filling my tank.
Did I have any nitrogen dioxide? It is a by-product of the internal combustion engine, but how could I say for sure? And, most importantly, how could I remove it?
And, of course, worst of all is the fact that this takes care of happenstance and coincidence, so whatever the next sales robut tries to tell me, it won’t be pretty.