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See that sign? Right there between the Diet Dr. Pepper and the old-school can of Canada Dry? It’s a WARNING to the effect that SERIOUS INJURY OR DEATH will ensue should one ROCK OR TILT the antiquated soda machine in the meticulously labeled City Paper kitchen.

Who knew that obeying one’s thirst could have such dire consequences?

Observe the stick figure below—let’s call him Bob. Bob is trying his damnedest to wrest a free soda or two from the death machine. He looks pretty thirsty. The curvy arrows seem to indicate that Bob is both rocking and tilting the death machine. That can’t be good. Didn’t he read the sign?


Call me crazy, but I’ve always commiserated with these little suckers, the stick figures of the world, eternally trapped behind the red strike-through of what not to do. “Don’t become another statistic!” they seem to cry, their predicament all the more poignant because they have no facial features. Whether they’re trapped between the closing doors of the Metro or suspended over a slippery spot on the floor, the Red Circle catches them just before the moment of truth, right in the “oh, shit” moment, when all they can say is, “what have I done!? Hence the immediacy, the illustrative power…nay, the pathos of these little everymen.

But let’s think of Bob in happier days. Playing with his dog, perhaps:

And here, for example, he appears to be feeding his child to an alligator:

But what of the death machine? One hopes that Bob didn’t end up like his colleague here:

Select photos courtesy of the Stick Figures in Peril Flickr pool