Obvious disclaimer: Somewhat off-topic post follows…
“Hello!WelcometoMcDonalds!WhatcanIgetforyoutoday?” says Charles, the young man standing behind the counter at one of the ubiquitous McDonald’s fast-food restaurants sprinkled throughout the world.
I’m immediately flummoxed; presented with a myriad of photographs and words, everything begins to blur into a mass of confusion. Sensing my hesitation, and possibly worried that one of the people in his queue may be upset that the ordering rate has decreased due to this customer who isn’t prepared, Charles helpfully prods me with, “doyouhaveanyquestionsonthemenuIcanhelpyouwithsir?”
I just wanted a hamburger, and a few other items for my kids as we take a break to refuel the family on a road trip.
“There are too many choices,” I state – still staring up the menu futilely. Giving in to the pressure, I muster up the nerve to just order blind, ” just give me a hamburger with mustard and ketchup only, a cheeseburger with onions only and McChicken(tm) sandwich with no Mayo.”
Tap tap tap. Tap. Tap tappity tap tap goes Charles as he enters my order into his terminal.
“Wouldyouliketoaddanyfrieswiththat?” he asks.
“Oh, yeah” – Sam likes fries, “Give me a large fry and onion rings” I announce with authority.
Tap, tappity tap, pause, “we don’t have onion rings.” flatly states Charles – picking this moment to carefully enunciate each word with the tone and meter of a person explaining something obvious to his younger (and less smart) sibling.
I can’t help feel as if I had let Charles down. I mean, DUH – it’s all right there up on the MENU in color photographs and categorized words. It’s so OBVIOUS that there is no onion ring menu item listed under “sides” or anywhere else for that matter. C’mon newb, get with the program – order your food and move on.
I’m stressing out in the fast food line.
Charles is still on pause, looking at me expectantly – probably thinking in the back of his head, “this is killing my customer turnover rate.”
I attempt to recover some semblance of dignity and successfully order ice waters to accompany the sandwiches.
By the time I whip out my credit card to pay, the food and drink are already packaged and ready to go. Charles swipes and returns my card, waits patiently while I put it back in my wallet, and then hands me my bags, “thanksforstoppingintoday!” he says with a smile, already looking at the woman behind me.
Shopping efficiency. Man oh man, has our industrialized, modernized, computerized society got it down pat.
But why? What am I rushing off to? Do ANY of the customers in that fast food restaurant really need to get in and out of there that quickly because their current mission is so critical that a moment spent sitting down and reading a menu may have a negative impact on themselves or their loved ones?
We’ve become part of an efficiency machine – a response we have as consumers to the margin management of large corporations to maximize profits by streamlining their operations. Years have been spent in maximizing the manufacturing, stocking and preparing of the end-product. The rate of improvement has diminished as theoretical maximums are approached, and the next link in the chain needs to be addressed – customers.
We are unwittingly being trained to be an efficient consumer. To stand in line – awaiting our turn. Stare at the board and decipher your options BEFORE your chance to order arrives. Uncertainty and questions delay the assembly line and derail the well oiled machine. ValueMeal. DollerMenu. DoubleShotVenteTwo-pumpVanillaLatte. ThanksAndComeAgain!
Slow down everyone. Take a deep breath and look around – where are you rushing off too? Our consumerism pulse is skyrocketing with no discernible limit. Beep. Beep. Beepbeepbeepbeepbeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep.
When you come into our store, I promise. PROMISE you will not be rushed. In fact, if at all possible we will attempt to rope you into sitting down and trying a game or two. Engage in conversation. Talk about your day.
It is amazing how many people don’t know how to respond when we tell them that you can come in and play one of our hundreds of demo games without being charged. “How do you make money?” I’m asked constantly.
I typically smile, and explain to them that we are simply a retail store – we pay our rent and our employees by selling games. We operate on the principle that buying our products should not be the only reason you come to our store. Slow down – browse. Tell us about the games to you like to play – and those you don’t. Let’s discuss how games can be used in education, and to help bring families closer together in this era of fast-as-light information. Use our store to meet new people; to introduce your friends to the joy of gaming.
In a nutshell – come to Fair Game not solely to buy, but to explore. Of course, feel free to purchase something also. Just don’t rush me – I’m too easily flustered!