The old curmudgeon has a lot to learn about tech

By: 
John Mueller, news@newpraguetimes.com

The occasional meeting of the Get The Heck Off My Lawn Society will now come to order.

Today’s agenda includes a rant on how a business uses technology to serve more people efficiently, while at the same time telling those not ready to embrace a certain level of technology, sorry, this is the way things are: Get on board or get out of the way and go someplace else.

Monday, Sept. 18, we went up to pick up a car repaired at a local shop. We stopped in Jordan at McDonald’s to pick up a quick bite for dinner. We’ve spent several months focusing on a healthy diet and my wife, affectionately referred to as The Sarge, requested a reprieve. The drivethru line at the restaurant stretched around the building. The crew no doubt was doing its best to fill orders promptly, but we knew this wasn’t going to be a quick visit.

We thought one of us could jump out, go inside and place an order and be back out to the car faster than had we used the drive-thru line. Wrong.

Inside the restaurant, a young man stood at the counter. The first thought was he was helping to take orders from cars in the drive-thru line during the dinner rush and would pause what he was doing and take orders from people who walked-in and were standing in front of him. Wrong. In front of him was a sign facing the wannabe customers indicating the young man was only dealing with orders placed through the McDonald’s app. or via its in-store kiosk. If you wanted to place an order and give him money the old-fashioned way, you were apparently out of luck. It seems the fast food restaurant industry is so wide open companies can tell people uncomfortable using that level of technology their business is not needed. Apparently, human interaction isn’t cost effective.

Get the heck off my lawn.

One could easily translate the sign to include the unwritten message: If you are not comfortable using this technology, too bad. We will not serve you. We will not take the time to talk to you because we are working hard to effectively take and fill orders from folks willing to wait out the drive-thru line or use our app or kiosk. If you are unwilling to do so or don’t want another app on your phone, feel free to go somewhere else.

The man left the restaurant grumbling. He told his wife they wouldn't be dining at McDonald’s because he wouldn’t support any business that made it clear it only wanted to do business with folks of a certain technological comfort level. The Sarge, admonished him. “You’re going to be the crabby old man,” she said.

Trying to figure out if this was an isolated issue, the curmudgeon checked with the local McDonald’s here in roundabout city. It turns out the McDonald’s in Jordan and the Golden Arches Supper Club in New Prague are managed by the same folks and it owns the stores in Shakopee, too. Yes, there is a similar sign in the corner in the front of the McDonald’s here in New Prague.

To be fair, the old curmudgeon wondered, there must be a reason why human interaction and the aversion to being paid with cash is being kicked to the curb. What might it be?

The decision to promote the app is a local decision, not one mandated by corporate McDonald’s. McDonald’s, the curmudgeon was told, uses the app and kiosk at a time when it is under-staffed and the volume of orders is high. Placing a member of the staff at one location is also intended to allow that employee to focus on one task rather than being shifted around from various positions. McDonald’s promotes the use of its app so people can order ahead and have their order piping hot when they arrive.

Sadly, it does not promote human interaction. Is there an app for that?

The occasional meeting of the Get The Heck Off My Lawn Society is now adjourned.

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