When director J.J. Abrams was a kid bought a "mystery magic box" from Lou Tannen's Magic Store in New York City. The box was wrapped in paper with a giant question mark on it.
"I bought this decades ago, but if you look at this, you'll see it's never been opened. Ever," said Abrams in his 2008 TED talk about the mystery box. "Why have I not opened this, and why have I kept it? It represents infinite possibility. It represents hope. It represents potential. What I love about this box — and what I realized I sort of do, in whatever it is that I do — is I find myself drawn to infinite possibility and that sense of potential. And I realize that mystery is the catalyst for imagination. What are stories besides mystery boxes?"
When I saw this video of the "world's strangest vending machine shop" in Japan, I was reminded of Abrams' mystery box. The video shows an eerily quiet run-down shop somewhere in Tokyo, with a bunch of vending machines. The store is open 24 hours a day. One of the machines in the front contains boxes wrapped in white paper with messages attached to the boxes. The person taking the video, ¥490 ($3.83) to buy one of the mystery boxes. I almost wanted to stop the video before finding out what was in the box, but I couldn't resist, so I kept watching. I'll leave it up to you to decide whether or not you want to see what was in the box. I will say that the box had a folder-up piece of paper on the outside of the box with a story written in Japanese. The translated version:
When I was working part-time at a restaurant chain in a certain ward and town in Tokyo, a local chain with five restaurants and a Western-style kitchen, there was a full-time employee named Mr. Nagata, who was extremely slutty with women and slept with all the women in the restaurant. He slept with all the women in the restaurant. He also slept with the president's daughter. I was a virgin, so I was very envious. In my heart, I thought Mr. Nagata was a sex employee. After quitting that restaurant about five years had passed since I left that restaurant. All the stores went out of business.
The rest of the video shows the other interesting machines in the shop.