Just When You Think You’ve Seen It All

Imagine going to a fine restaurant and realizing when you enter that there’s a waiting list just to get in.   We’ve all been there…if you’re lucky, there might even be a chair to sit on while you anxiously wait to be called for an available table.   In most cases the wait usually is long and it seems your name never gets called as quickly as the host tells you when you first arrive.

Okay, so imagine yourself waiting to get into this nice restaurant and you look over and see the typical vending machines offering gum-balls and other toy novelties for the kids.   But then you notice this one other machine that just doesn’t look quite right…so you walk over to it and suddenly you can’t quite believe your eyes.   Indeed, this is no ordinary prize machine…no sir, this remote controlled claw doesn’t yield some stuffed animal that is almost impossible to grab…nope, this one offers up a live, swimming lobster.

Lobsterclaw2Here’s the deal.   Apparently more and more restaurants (and markets) are finding that vending machines offering up live Maine lobsters are a big hit with patrons.   Let’s say you pay $2 for a 30–second chance to grab a live lobster…and if successful, the restaurant will cook it up for free.   Certainly gives new meaning to winning, doesn’t it?   Now, instead of counting those agonizingly long minutes waiting for a table…you can be entertained as folks attempt to do a little “in-restaurant fishing” for their food.   Well, maybe it’s not exactly fishing…but you get the idea.

Of course, such novelties do not come without their controversy.   Yup, you probably guessed it…our friends from PETA now have something new to champion.    Just last week it was reported a restaurant in Pittsburgh decided to pull the machine because of the complaints and threatening e-mails it received thanks to these whiners.   Yet, the machines are reported to be expanding in popularity and can now be found in at least 20 states.

Personally, I think it’s a novel idea and I give the person who invented it kudos.     If nothing else, it reminds people that the food we eat in restaurants and at home has to be caught by someone.   Granted, grabbing a lobster with big mechanical claws is not exactly the quintessential manner of food gathering…yet it seems to me to be fairly harmless and a quite entertaining activity for most people who either choose to participate or to watch.Lobsterclaw

Heck, over the years we’ve learned to buy our night-crawlers and tackle out of fancy vending machines…it only makes sense that the day would come when we might also claim our catch by operating a joystick with a little finesse.   Not to mention, imagine how much more personally rewarding it must feel for the restaurant patron to be able to say they dined on their own catch.   Hmmm…now there’s a feeling that most of us sportsmen can relate to quite well, isn’t it?

© 2006 Jim Braaten.  All Rights Reserved.   No Reproduction without Prior Permission.