I love you
He inserted the coin into the Automatic Compliments Dispenser once again and waited. The machine made a gurgling sound and after a few seconds, a small card appeared on the tray. He picked it up and his face turned crimson with rage.
It was pink with an embroidered lace around the edges and the words were, “I love you, my sweet valentine”.
He kicked the machine hard this time and let out a piercing scream. It felt like he had sprained his foot in the process but was relieved to find out that that wasn’t the case.
He inserted another coin and hoped for some better words this time. The card was on the tray and he looked at it warily. He was speechless. This time he wanted to scream some colourful adjectives but words just wouldn’t come. He just stood there staring at the yellow card with a pink lace and the words this time were, “I love you, my darling daffodil.”
The whole of last week there was no problem. The machine had behaved according to its specifications and gave him the words he wanted to hear. It had even commented on his voice and its impact on women. And a fortnight ago, it had declared he was a gift to the planet earth.
But today, it was behaving strangely different and he was wondering what might have gone wrong for this to happen.
His psychiatrist told him that one of the best ways to get rid of stress was to go to this machine during lunch-break and read some compliments. It was the doc’s pet phrase: “a compliment a day keeps the worry beads away.”
The doctor loved saying that over and over again in a sing-song voice that grated on the nerves. Hence, the machine was a godsend as one could avoid meeting the doctor and listen to his pathetic attempts at singing.
But this time, the machine did not seem to be of any help. He began hitting the machine with his fists and hoped it would work, After all, he had been a faithful customer for the past three and half months and there was no reason why it should behave like this with him. How on earth could it treat him like a … sissy!
He banged the machine with his hands again and screamed at it, “Can you, at least, tell me what’s wrong with you?”
The machine made a gurgling sound all by itself. He was taken aback. He didn’t expect the machine to respond so quickly and spontaneously to his ranting. But most of all, he was surprised that the machine actually responded.
He didn’t know what to do with the two cards that he saw on the tray. He stared at them for a long time and after a gap that seemed to last for hours, he picked them up. They were plain and simple and without any pink or yellow laces around it. But the words froze him to the spot as he read what the machine spoke.
“I’m disappointed in you for breaking my heart.”
“I hate you.”