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Dvbee: Have You Heard The Buzz?
Written by Spling   
Friday, 08 January 2010 09:13

dvbeeI walked into the Pick 'n Pay Express convenience store at the BP garage in Tokai, Cape Town to pick up some milk. You know... the one that's just off the M3 Tokai off-ramp... come on, the one just before Blue Route Mall!? Anyway, I picked up a 2-litre low fat milk and headed to the cashiers. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted something... something big, something gleaming with the letters d-v-b-e-e on it. I had to look. It was like an ATM with a bee on it, about 2 metres tall with an interactive touch screen, a membership card slot and one of those thingies to swipe your credit card. Honey on-tap? No - this wasn't a David Lynch movie, this was real life so I edged closer...

A vending machine, that stocks DVDs... I was blown away! I wanted to knock to see if there was someone hiding inside the machine, dispensing DVD rentals at will, but then remembered the "too-good-to-be-true" moments from Leon Schuster and Jamie Uys candid camera sketches and realised that I was probably being monitored by Pick 'n Pay security. The screen said 'Touch Me' or 'Touch Screen to Begin', I forget... but I did. Suddenly I was presented with several options... whoa, I could Rent DVDs, Return DVDs and Buy DVDs. I pressed 'Rent DVDs'. Another screen flipped up to reveal a wide selection of new release DVD titles with their DVD cover images. I felt like I was Tom Cruise in Minority Report.

Thoughts started rushing through my head like the precogs... What happens if my DVD gets stuck like a packet of chips from one of those nightmare corkscrew dispenser vending machines? Will I have to shake dvbee DVD vending machinethe machine to make it drop down? I threw caution to the wind and used my left hand to guide my trembling right hand to press The Boat That Rocked DVD cover, half expecting the machine to lift-off or swallow me. It didn't! It just added my selection to what it calls a <open air quotes>Basket<close air quotes> and asked if I'd like to rent more DVDs. I gulped and pressed 'Yes'. Star Trek XI? In the basket. Mamma Mia... too risky, I felt a curious onlooker's eyes on my back, so I switched to The Wrestler instead. In the basket AGAIN, I felt like Michael Jordan!

Now for the moment of blinding truth... would it accept my credit card? It did! What, no SMS transaction notification? Then the penny dropped, not in the machine, but in my head! It charges you when you return the DVDs - and that's how it knows how long you've rented them for! Cool - R20 for a 24 hour DVD rental (pretty standard) or R11 for a 6 hour DVD rental (good to know). The brief moment of clarity clouded over again. How was this "vending machine" going to make the DVDs magically appear in my hands? Well... I took a step back as I heard the whirring robot come to life. Foooweeep... as its robotic arm reached inside itself to find The Boat That Rocked... sliding it out in a cool jet black carry case. Foooweep... foooweep... and suddenly I had all three!

It was like paying for 1 hour's parking with a R100 note or Christmas even... I had three brilliant movies in my hands without having to have any mugshots taken, part with my personal details or decipher whether I should pick the covers off the shelf or bring some grubby rental token to the counter! Plus I didn't have any spotty over-the-counter movie buff to judge my selection... I could have just as easily rented Tinkerbell without having to pretend I have kids... head held high. I guess that's why they call it dv-bee... I was on a buzz! The dvbee machine had made my day (or night... it was 10:30pm) and I knew that I could return them just before 10:30pm the following night, giving me plenty of time to sleep in... BRILLIANT!

I looked up to the heavens, 2-litre milk in one hand, DVDs in the other, waiting for a pale green alien light to beam me up... and realised I was still indoors. "Heavens"... thankfully, I noticed the 3 DVDs per day, R100 per month subscription... my jawPS3 dropped and I quickly SMSed "I want to subscribe" to 072 264 1939 so I could be ready for Round 2. Without even realising it, by subscribing before February 14th, I had inadvertently put myself in a beeline to win a PS3 console, free subscription from 3 months to a year and Jungle Beat movies just in time for Valentine's Day on 14 February, 2010. What!? They've also got machines in Noordhoek, Camps Bay and Stellenbosch Friendly Stores? "Somebody pinch me".


Had I walked past security without paying for the milk? Was my car being taken for a joy ride? No. I was on the couch and the irritating noise was my wake-up alarm on my cellphone. Was it 11am already? Had it all been a dream? The magical dvbee DVD vending machine, the DVDs... the feeling of euphoria? I reached across the couch and blindly searched for the remote, knocking the bowl of stale microwave popcorn to the ground. The TV came to life and as I opened my crusty eyes, Mickey Rourke stared back at me from the screen... dressed as a wrestler? It had all been TRUE! I thought about throwing an air punch to celebrate, but then decided I'd save it for later... when I did it all again!

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Last Updated on Friday, 08 January 2010 11:20