Monday, October 16, 2006

If it ain't broke, by all means fix it

There's a point when our everyday lives don't need to evolve anymore.

Sure, technological advances and societal attitudes make change necessary and usually welcome, but I don't mean changes for the greater good.

I mean the simple things. For example, how we buy a hamburger.

At one point, buying a hamburger was easy. Things at our faceless hamburger franchise were just fine. The bathrooms were clean, and all the cooks wore hairnets.

The hamburger industry was running so smoothly corporate management had plenty of time to sit back and try to think of ways to make franchises run even more smoothly.

So they changed things.

Management put in debit-card swipers so cashiers wouldn't have to cashier. They moved all the soda machines from behind the counter so the French fry cooks wouldn't have to pour drinks. And they installed ketchup dispensers in the customer area so no one would have to hand customers extra ketchup packets ever.

Corporate management tinkered with their burger joints* until things became so needlessly complicated walking through the doors is now like entering some strange, alternate reality where the robots have taken over.

At a fast-food joint, if I want a hamburger, French fries and a Coke do I say I want a hamburger, French fries and a Coke? No, I order a No. 2. I don't want to order a No. 2. No. 2 means a lot of things, some of which I don't want associated with lunch.

But, Jason, isn't saying, "I'd like a No. 2," less complicated than saying, "I'd like a hamburger, French fries and a Coke?"

In theory, yes, but there's no industry standard. What makes up a No. 2 at one place isn't a No. 2 somewhere else. I might want a hamburger, French fries and a Coke and I'll end up with a fish sandwich, apple slices and bottled water. Pfft. Like any real American would order that.

So, no, No. 2 makes ordering food more complicated.

Such is life in America. Everything has been tampered with to the point you have to think to order a cup of coffee.

Don't you mean a triple mocha-cappa-latte?

No, darn it. I mean coffee. Black, hot and in a cup. The kind truckers drink.

It's human nature to try to improve everything around us. Why? Because we're troublemakers. But there's a time we can't improve the simple things without making them complicated. The time was a decade ago.

Bill Gates, Microsoft Word was a pain in the butt four versions ago. Just stop messing with it, OK?

*Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know McDonald's, Burger King, Hardee's, whatever, are technically restaurants, but to me a restaurant doesn't give the option of eating in your car.

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