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April, 2008

  1. What do you do here?

    April 29, 2008 by Ryan

    Our small group had just finished watching a folk-dance performance, and stopped at a nearby fast-food restaurant. We took our place in the line. There were only three small groups ahead of us, and we didn’t even fill the switch-back rails to halfway. It didn’t look like it would take very long to reach the counter.

    As I was visiting with other people in our group, and didn’t notice (until my wife pointed out) that we had been talking for about 10 minutes and had hardly moved. They then decided to go and sit down, leaving me alone to place the order.

    After another five minutes, I reached the counter. I began ordering. First, a chicken sandwich, then a baked potato, and then – when at once the woman taking my order walked away. I was left standing there, mouth open, ready to give the next piece of the order. I turned around and faced the people behind me (who had also noticed that the clerk was gone), shrugged my shoulders, and jokingly apologized that I had no idea what I said to offend her.

    She returned about two minutes later, and politely said that they had no more potatoes tonight. I continued ordering, and after a few more items were entered, someone from the back called to her. She again left me standing there, waiting to tell her my last few remaining items from my order. After she finished answering someone’s question, she returned, and concluded taking my order.

    I payed, and stepped down the counter to receive my food. She filled my drinks and the one ice-cream cup, and then moved on to take the next customer’s order. My attention turned to a nearby employee, and as I watched him, I learned that his apparent job duties were to wrap up the burgers and retrieve the fries and chicken nuggets.

    He finished up his duties, loading up my tray with the food, and was about to walk away. I stopped him, as I noted that I had not yet received a chili. He glanced at my receipt and my tray, and agreed. He called over to the cashier, interrupting her current customer, to inform her that I needed chili. He then stepped just slightly out of the way, so that he would not be directly in front of me, and proceeded to stand there, waiting around for another burger to come down the line. What makes this scene most amusing is that the pot of chili, the ladle, and the bowls were directly behind this employee. He only needed to turn 180 degrees, pick up the bowl, and take care of the situation.

    I didn’t do this, but I wish now that I would have thought to engage this young man in some “small talk.” I would have asked the employee, “What is it that you do here?” He probably would have answered something like this: “I wrap up the burgers as they come down the line.” If I had pressed for more fascinating detail, he probably would have answered that he fills the fried food orders. Maybe he had other duties like sweeping floors or wiping tables periodically.

    Any of those answers however would not have been the correct one. Those answers would all be describing his job duties. The correct answer to my question should have been, “I serve the customer!”

    This employee was so focused on his individual duties that he completely ignored the paying customer standing in front of him! He did not look for opportunities to help his fellow employee at the cash register and do a little extra work. As a result, the cashier was overworked and not able to keep up with the order taking. Eventually she broke away from her current customer and provided me my order of chili, but only after I had to wait and watch the burger wrapper stand in place looking around.

    It made me wonder. When I report to work, and I coming to do a job, or am I coming to serve the customer? Am I willing to take a little bit of the load off of my coworker’s plate, so that together we can serve the customer more efficiently? Or am I standing in my own little world, concerned only about the few tasks that I have been specifically assigned? Do I use my spare time to learn someone duties, so that I can educate myself and be a benefit to them and the rest of the company?

    I learned a lot from that burger-wrapper employee. Whoever you were, I thank you for the lesson!

  2. Hi, my name is Ryan

    April 25, 2008 by Ryan

    Hello. My name is Ryan.

    And I have an addiction.

    If you were to look into my garbage can, you would find dozens and dozens of Coke caps. I cannot hide the evidence, so I decided to come clean.

    But wait! Now, it is not what you think. Probably.

    See, I don’t drink the stuff myself! I promise! (well, except for two – two are mine, over a time period of about two-and-a-half months)

    Instead, I collect the caps. At least long enough to enter the codes.

    Well, you see, there is this strange secret code printed on the bottom of every bottle cap. Leftover spy codes from World War II, I think. The codes make no sense.

    Well, for example, codes like this one: NPH6B7HT6950. You take these codes, and you go to the website, and you type them in. And for every cap code you type in, they give you back three “points.”

    If you are fortunate enough to find a cardboard box that holds 12 cans of liquid calories, you find a code with 15 characters and it is worth 10 points! And if you get the ultimate prize, the shrink wrap from a 24 pack of the fancy bottle tap water that they sell, you get 20 points!

    (But don’t you dare think that you can go stealing that code I wrote out above. It is MINE, MINE, MINE! I claim the random nonsense of characters as my own! You can’t have it! Besides, I’ve already spent it!)

    With all these points, you get, um, stuff. You can pick from a large selection of things that you don’t really need from their website. Redeem points for stuff.

    So if I don’t drink it, how do I get the caps and points? I have carefully trained my co-workers to hold onto their caps, convincing them that they can’t individually collect enough caps to get anything worthwhile, and that it is not worth their time to enter the silly nonsense codes onto a website (but it somehow worth mine). So they give them to me. I walk by their desks, and they just hand them to me! It is brilliant!

    I’ve got enough points collected now that I could get a free “upgrade” on a rental car, or a hat that says “American Idol,” or a free medium two-topping pizza from Domino’s.

    And I can’t stop myself anymore. I just keep collecting these caps. They flow to me without compulsory means.

    But it is getting out of hand. I mean, some days they give me more caps than I am allowed to enter in a day (10 is the limit).

    Good thing I have Saturday to catch up on the overstock!

    And if I happen to be walking past a garbage can, and I see that someone has carelessly placed their empty bottle into the waste receptacle, I glance around me to see if no one is looking, I might pick the bottle up, unscrew the cap, and place the bottle carefully back in, quietly slipping the cap into my pocket.

    But only if it is right on top. I never go digging! I have my dignity!

    So, yes, I have an addiction. To Coke points.

    Oh, I really don’t like the taste of colas. And I think the sodas, and juices, and bottled waters are generally overpriced, so I don’t typically bring myself to purchase them. But I want to collect enough points to get some free stuff.

    So if you aren’t close enough to hand me your cap to a Coke, Sprite, Dasani, Minute Maid, or Power-Aid beverage, go ahead and email me your code. Feed my addiction!

    Thank you.

    Oh, um, before I step away from the microphone, did I mention that a two litter bottle is only $0.67 at Albertson’s this week, when you purchase in quantities of three?

    Um, alright then. I’m done. Thank you.

  3. The Strong Arm of the ADA Law is Heard

    April 11, 2008 by Ryan

    There is a story coming out of Provo, Utah that is making me think.

    Here’s a link to the story:,1249,695269341,00.html

    Here’s my summary:

    In this story, we have mom Lareen Strong, who has a daughter that really likes “Rock Star” Miley Cyrus, and it just so happens that Ms. Cyrus is coming to Provo to entertain at the Stadium of Fire on July 4 of this year. Mrs. Strong was “One in a Million” of the fortunate ones who obtained tickets to the event. They will enjoy a “G.N.O (Girls Night Out).”

    But “Ready, Set, Don’t Go.” As it turns out, Mrs. Strong’s daughter also has an unfortunate hearing disability.

    Mrs. Strong did something that I would consider very smart and reasonable. She called ahead to the BYU Marriott Center ticket office, to ask them if they have listening devices available. She did her homework. If I were going somewhere, I would call or check the website, or do my research and see what preparations I would need to make, and what kind of accommodations were available. I see many people who don’t; who simply show up somewhere and expect that accommodation has already been made for them, and even get upset when the red carpet is not rolled out as they arrive.

    Unfortunately, the folks at the ticket office didn’t know. Her call was passed around to five different people, and none of them knew the answer.

    Now, I might have a little perspective on this one. Check out “The Other Side of Me” – I work at a technical support call center. I can easily imagine this type of thing happening. Someone calls, and asks a question that seems simple and intimately familiar to that caller, but it blindsides the people answering the phone. They don’t know, maybe even panic and maybe even don’t say something that sounds friendly or helpful. They are not being rude; they just don’t understand the situation yet. They check with other people, and no resolution is found – at least not right away. After all, “Nobody’s Perfect.”

    Which seems to be what happened to Mrs. Strong. She received a call the next day from a manager “Who Said” that she knew the answer. The answer was that the LaVell Edwards Stadium doesn’t have them available, but if you call ahead (as Mrs. Strong had done) they can make arrangements to have something there and ready. And so they will be very happy to get a device for her daughter.

    But overnight, I suppose Mrs. Strong had a chance to stew over it and get upset at her mistreatment. Now I try to see it from her perspective. The disability that Mrs. Strong and her daughter deal with every day is very personal to them. And they are far more familiar with the situation than they ever want to be. So the fact that when she called people at BYU, and those people didn’t understand her problem or situation and were not ready to help her, she became upset. And keep in mind that some people build up and expect that B.Y.U. is “God’s University,” where the people there are absolute perfect and upright representatives of the Church and the Savior – in other words, they put BYU on a pedestal higher than it really belongs.

    And so now she has gone to the lengths to file complaints, talk to the newspaper, and looking into the Americans with Disabilities laws for support of her position. She’s going to “Make Some Noise.” She has out-and-out accused BYU of deliberately being discriminatory to her daughter. Think I’m exaggerating? Then how else can you interpret this quote: “Brigham Young University is discriminating against my daughter, as well as every hearing impaired person who goes to an event at LaVell Edwards Stadium.” There you have it, “Good and Broken.”

    If BYU has made reasonable accommodation at her request, then I have to ask her, how are they discriminating? To discriminate, doesn’t one have to place some thought of ill-will toward another person? There is no way every situation can be planned for ahead of time; it would be unreasonable to expect this. The fact that they were not ready with an instant answer in no way says they were discriminatory; just ill-prepared or poorly-trained. And I sympathize with your daughter’s very difficult life condition. But as you should understand by now, the world in general and our society in specific is not particularly familiar with nor always sympathetic toward the problems that they don’t deal with personally. I’m not excusing thoughtlessness or insensitivity; I’m just stating it as a fact.

    It sounds to me as though Mrs. Strong is attempting to get “the Best of Both Worlds” for her daughter. “Life’s What You Make It,” and I think she and her daughter should be grateful for the good time they are going to experience together, and don’t dwell on this moment leading up to it.

  4. What Keeps Me Coming Back

    April 10, 2008 by Nate and Michelle

    I visited a Winger’s a couple of weeks ago to pick up a present for a certain family member’s birthday.  Not having time to stop and partake of the edible delights that greet people in that establishment, I have had much time for reflection on my Wingers experiences. 

    I must admit, there was a time, not too long ago, that I did not particularly enjoy spicy food.  Yes, sadly, this included the Amazing Winger’s Sauce.  I remember the first time I ate at Wingers at Ryan’s recommendation.  It might have been when Ryan and Glorajean were engaged.  I got a sandwich.  Fortunately, I got a drink too.  I remember the burning sensation my mouth experienced upon tasting its first major spice.  I remember trying to wash out that sensation frantically with with a large (thankfully bottomless) glass of kiwi lemonade.  So far, not a fan.  Then I tasted it.  The motherlode of desserts.  Probably the single most delicious thing I had ever tasted in my short life.  Asphalt Pie.  That was a reason to go back in and of itself. 

     Throughout the years, due to the strength of Asphalt Pie, I have revisited Winger’s a few more times during visits to Utah.  I have gotten more daring with other foods and discovered that I actually LOVE hot foods, which has consequently increased my love and devotion to Winger’s Amazing Sauce as well.  My love for Asphalt Pie has not dwindled either.  I still regard it as the climax of the dessert world. 

    Until last night, I had not eaten at Winger’s since October.  I have wanted to, but since then chocolate made its way on the banned food list for me.  That affected Asphalt Pie, so I have dreaded going back too.  Finally, I gave in to temptation.  I had forgotten about the popcorn . . . one of my all-time favorite foods.  I had forgotten how addicting the Amazing Winger’s Sauce actually is; how it makes you want to lick your fingers in public, defying all rules of etiquette.  After devouring popcorn, Nate and I filled up on the Sticky Finger Quesadillas appetizer and I tried Peach Lemonade and a Sticky Finger Wrap.  At the end, I was so full and satisfied that I couldn’t have eaten Asphalt Pie, even if I could eat Asphalt Pie!  It was awesome.  So, yes Ryan, I am still, officially, an Amazing Winger’s Sauce addict.  I will keep going back.  And I will keep loving it.