made for a different time

Tonight Col told me he doesn’t know how I am going to survive in this age of technology. I suppose I could have taken that as another wise crack about my age, but this time I knew that wasn’t what he meant. Two things happened tonight that prompted that comment.

First, we went to Cafe Rio after running some errands and before packing to leave for NYC tomorrow. It was more crowded than it’s been in a long time, and that just compounds one characteristic of the place that drives me up a fucking wall. For those not familiar, the concept is you make and tailor your order as you move down the line in front of the food prep area behind big glass sneeze guards. Think of a Mexican food Subway setup and you’ll have the basic idea. Well, the little Cafe Rio workers are so eager, they start asking you questions long before the line has moved up enough for you to have reached their station. So, you end up yelling over the heads of the people in front of you, and you’re unable to see what’s going on with your food. It royally pisses me off. I mean, the whole concept it to move along the little assembly line with your food. If the mean bitches running the registers can’t keep the line moving at the same pace as the food prep, maybe they need to get faster mean bitches. Or more of them. Either way, I don’t care.

So, tonight, they were moving us along pretty quickly, but I noticed that one of the guys seemed confused as he was prepping food. I was trying to keep my eye on my order, but the wench at the next station kept yelling and asking me what I had ordered, so I had to turn away to respond. When I turned back, I was pretty sure he had swapped mine and Col’s dishes. This is a problem. Col likes their pork. I hate it. I love their pico. Col hates it. Col likes their beans. I hate them. You get the idea. I kept trying to ask them to check the orders and switch them back before they loaded up all those items that neither of us like of the other’s, but they were all moving too fast. So, $20 later, we sat down at the table to confirm that the orders were wrong. To say I was pissed is an understatement. Anyone who knows me knows that you better watch out when my blood sugar drops. I needed food STAT, but what was in front of me was crap.

First, I tried to take it back to have them fix it. I stood there with the tray of food trying to get someone to help me to no avail. They were all ignoring me. Assholes. I went back to the table resigned to eat around the parts I couldn’t stomach, but Col wanted to try to get it fixed. His patience paid off and someone finally helped him, although they were extremely rude about correcting their error. The mean bitch slammed the tray down with the newly done order and Col returned to the table. Two bites into mine and I was done. They had just remade me another pork enchilada. So, basically they fucked up my order twice. I ate some rice and then gave up. I was so hungry and so pissed, I decided to be a completely disgusting pig and drive through McDonald’s on the way home for a nasty cheeseburger and some fries. This brings us to the second reason Col made his comment.

The McDonald’s here has a Drive Thru that splits into two lanes where they simultaneously take two cars’ orders, staggering them by about 15 seconds to keep the orders in line with the cars. When you first pull up, a recorded voice welcomes you to McDonald’s and suggests you try some daily special (tonight was oatmeal…no thanks) and then says, “Go ahead and order when you’re ready.” Now, usually you can rattle off your order and then some totally different voice gives you a total and tells you to drive forward. Tonight, after I listed my order the totally different voice said, “May I take your order?” It seems the automated system got a little ahead of the human element. And, I about lost my shit. I know…it’s just a freaking McDonald’s order. But, to me it was just the icing on the cake of fucktastic evening where nobody seemed to be able to do anything correctly. Am I being nit-picky? Absolutely. Normally, I’m pretty go with the flow. But, a long week, low blood sugar and knowing I still had to pack and clean up some things to leave at 330AM tomorrow just pushed me to the brink.

The fact is, I just can’t see the value in automation for automation’s sake. Does it really speed up the process that the order taker gets fed the order instead of asking for it? What if they’ve stepped away from the screen? What if someone is asking them a question while my order is coming in? They’ll just have to ask for it again, and sooner or later people are going to get sick of repeating themselves. This isn’t even a matter of people being incompetent; it’s a matter of someone deciding they needed to sell some automation where it really isn’t needed.

So yes, Col, I was born too late. I need to be the age I am now, but 20 or so years ago. And, I guess the bigger lesson learned in all this…I got what I deserved for trying to eat crap.

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3 responses to “made for a different time

  1. I laughed through this entire blog; I’m not sure what made it so funny but I’m imagining you fuming. I, too, agree hate the automation, which is strange b/c I work in interactive advertising and it’s all about technology and moving forward. For whatever reason, I’m old school. As for McDonald’s, they have automated systems?! I haven’t been in years apparently…

    At the Austin airport (which actually has pretty good food and local ones at that), one of the places has all automated ordering systems/kiosks. It’s a little weird; it still startles me.

  2. I think I experienced a sympathetic raise in blood pressure and stress levels reading this. I ABHOR it when someone or some process fucks with my food. I’ve seen you order and you do it the same way I do: carefully, succinctly, at a very reasonable volume, so the person taking your order has no reason at all to fuck it up. So when incompetence — whether human- or machine-related — results in the wrong order, you know it’s not your fault, and you know you took the extra effort to make sure it would be right. It’s maddening!

    I think I might have needed to shove the second pork enchilada up that Mean Bitch’s ass. Yes, I know, that’s assault and she’s minimum wage and isn’t being paid enough to care. Whatever. As I keep telling my daughters: anything worth doing is worth doing _well_. I know we’ve all heard that one, but the second part is this: and if you can’t do the job well, then you are doomed to repeat it or jobs as shitty as it is and never move on to something you might actually enjoy doing.

    I sometimes feel sorry for people in those jobs, especially in this economy, because I know some of them used to have much better jobs and these crappy jobs are the only work they can find now. But in cases like what you describe, my second emotion quickly takes over: how the fuck does that hateful / incompetent / uncaring person keep their job when 10-17% of our population is desperately seeking work (or more work) and would willingly do a better job? It makes me want to get that Mean Bitch fired so someone else can take her place and she can see what it’s like to be unemployed.

    But it would be a lot more fun, quicker and impose more immediate consequences to cram a pork enchilada up her ass with my pointy show. Then I’d like to take my show to whomever decided that process, in which the prep workers significantly out-pace the person at the register, is functional and effective. Let’s go re-engineer their process, shall we? Would THAT bring us into this decade? =P

  3. Low blood sugar is nothing to mess around with. Mr. W knows to pretty much avoid all conversation with me when I’m starving, lest I bite his head off. I would have been pissed, too. But I did keep thinking, “hey you kids – get off my lawn!” the entire time I was reading this. 😀

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