Customers Behaving Badly

Okay. I know I shouldn’t be ordering fast food but from a recent visit, I noticed something very bizarre. I watched three different orders placed with three identical outcomes. The first person ordered a cheeseburger. The next person ordered a meal with extra special sauce. The last person ordered a two cheeseburger meal. What made this whole encounter amazing is that each of the customers returned his or her food citing an error. The first person told another fast food worker she didn’t want cheese on her burger. The second person returned his food saying there were too many pickles on it. The last person claimed that she said she didn’t want onions on her burgers. I could clearly overhear the conversation because I had nothing better else to do. But it felt as if people are complaining just because they can. I was so interested in this rare form of people watching that I purposely sat and watched customers repeatedly do the same thing by saying an order and complaining about the outcome they initially never raised.

Is there some form of code or culture that allows us to waste products by laying false blame? I would argue that it is entirely acceptable to return French fries because they might be cold. But to turn away cooked food and have it remade because you didn’t specify how you wanted it prepared has to be the newest form of people behaving badly.

After my meal, I made it a point to ask a manager on duty about my discovery. The McDonalds manager told me that it happens all the time. In fact, she instructs her cashiers to repeat the order like they would in a drive-thru lane. The customer agrees and yet there is an inaccuracy complaint. She said, “people want to complain some of the time” but must throw away the food according to law and reissue the order. The only suffering is the customer having to wait a longer period to have his or her order remade. She did mention that fast food locations are testing new phone apps that allow a person to place an order and make custom orders like no onions or extra cheese. But will this change the culture or attitude of those that habitually want to complain about others errors? My guess is no.

Syria: You Break It, You Own It

If you want to visualize how dysfunctional, our political system is then let me guide you on a grand lesson of insanity of Syria’s civil war. Four sides are beginning with the Syrian government, Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah. Next, there is the Syrian Opposition and Turkey. Then ISIL or ISIS (but I will refer to them as ISIL). Lastly, there is Iraqi Kurdistan, the United States, and other militant groups. As for the numbers, rough estimates put the Syrian military at 180,000 and approximately 100,000 have been killed. ISIL has about 100,000+ soldiers, and less than 10% have been destroyed. The Syrian Opposition troop strength numbers are unfounded, but it’s safe to say over 125,000 have been killed. Finally, the Iraqi Kurds have 60,000 soldiers and over 3,000 killed.

Syria is a country with approximately 17 million people ruled by the Ba’ath Party. That name should sound familiar because in 2003 the U.S. Coalition Provisional Authority banned the Ba’ath Party entirely from Iraq. What happened next is that Egypt, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Tunisia, Yemen and Syria Ba’ath Party memberships were dramatically increased. Each of those listed nations experienced increased violence and tensions based on perhaps U.S. ill-advised diplomacy. Today Syria barely has a government. Instead, homegrown political systems such as ISIL and other militants are governing Syrian territories. Survival is not based on the rule of national law but the rule of occupation. This is why millions are exiting Syria.

The United States Congress will not authorize war legislation to stop ISIL but continually blames President Obama for doing nothing about Syria. On one hand, we had a Congress that said, “the president doesn’t think ISIL is a threat to the United States” but only to say later “the United States does not need to be involved in another war.” There is no mitigation plan to deal with the millions of refugees exiting Syria and perhaps other nations affected by ISIL or other occupational forces. What makes the problem far worse is that some of our allies have now become somewhat the opposition because of diplomatic issues. Former secretary of state Colin Powell said it best “You break it, you own it.” It was the United States that invaded a nation without a plan and then created an exit strategy by the same Republican president without a long term plan. Basically, we own it because not only did we break it but we tried to sweep the fragments under the rug.

Today’s political rhetoric is all about doing or saying something about Syria but having no plan of execution. Our diplomacy is more about yelling and blaming sides rather than helping innocent women and children caught in the crossfire. What do you think will happen in 10 years when these kids become teenagers? It is only natural that they will seek revenge towards a nation that perhaps began this whole debacle in the first place? This is what happened in Iraq during our second invasion.

It is time for politicians to stop Tweeting and begin using pen and paper to draft legislative plans to save and contain Syria. If we don’t protect or provide Syria, then it will, and already has, spill over into other nations where we still have diplomatic relations. Mostly those countries risk being diplomatically severed if we idly stand by. We can no longer watch Syria’s history become swept under the rug because ISIL has already demolished most of its history and continues to execute anyone that does not believe in its ideology. Have we become the next generation of a Holocaust by allowing genocides in Syria to continue? I think we have.

Apple Losing its Appeal?

I am a fan of Apple products. In fact, I have been a fan so long that I still remember my first Apple computer purchased in 1987. Owning an Apple during that time was radical because it was molding and changing a new market of home users. Over time Apple pushed the envelope again and again. But when it came to my phone I was a hardcore Blackberry user. I was convinced that nothing would ever replace Blackberry devices and that they would forever rule the world. I was surely wrong about Blackberry. Today I use an Apple iPhone 6 Plus in conjunction with my Apple Watch and enjoy them both. I was indoctrinated from Blackberry to Apple that I would be a happy customer, and so far I have been pleased.

Today Apple unveiled the iPhone 7 and a new watch. In a nutshell, I was not impressed and left feeling deeply disappointed. In viewing the reaction of audience members during the presentation, it almost felt like a scene of canned laughter and applause for a television sitcom. I became a bit flustered that each of the new qualities Apple introduced is the standard to competing phones. It had me questioning, “why am I still loyal to Apple?” For starters, the customer support is rock solid. I have never had an issue with an Apple product that could not be resolved with a quick call to Apple technical assistance. Additionally, the ease of use without having to hire a nine-year-old to help you figure out how to use a feature has been a relief. But Apple thinks that all of its users are or will be some amateur turned professional photographer. This is simply not the case with me. I don’t plan on creating any home movies. While I am appreciative towards Apple’s efforts in creating an entertainment device, I would have wished for some practical convenience features.

Many of us professional business users tend to wear the battery life out of our phones. I would have liked to have seen a wireless battery charging platform or something similar to a Tesla charger for the iPhone that will bring your battery life to 70% in 5 minutes. While it is true that Apple extended battery life maybe an hour longer, I remember that same conversation a few iPhones prior where there was a battery flaw causing a replacement recall. Okay, the new home button is no longer an actual button. So what!? Sure, I get haptic feedback which I rarely if ever use. Then the huge announcement that the iPhone 7 is water and dust resistant which is a far cry from waterproof. To me, this only means that once again I am at the mercy of purchasing another Apple condom or similarly based Otterbox.

If Apple wants to impress me, then begin creating devices that don’t crack or break when you accidentally drop them. We live in an active world where Apple claims to be a part of but creates devices corresponding to the children’s egg-and-spoon race. Apple must create a game changer scenario where its devices are durable for a family and practical world free from required and bulky Otterboxes. Why should my prescription eyeglasses be more durable than my iPhone? Once Apple personally answers that question, then maybe I will be awed and impressed.

A part of me would like to buy the new iPhone 7. The practical part of me says it is not worth the move yet. I cannot see the benefit of upgrading my nearly two-year-old iPhone 6 plus. I think I share the sentiment because Apple is struggling and flatlining among many of its loyal users. Sadly the observation I am witnessing is akin to the once dominant Blackberry device. As the mobile device community grew and became radically diverse, it left Blackberry far behind. My fear is that Apple is losing its creative edge allowing other devices or technologies to overshadow its long-standing innovative side.

Happy Labor Day

Today is Labor Day in the United States. I am trying to put on a happy face to celebrate it. I guess I should be reflective of the contributions that workers have made to our country. Instead, I am feeling a bit malaise because workers are truly not celebrated in this country.

During the Cold War, there was a sense of national pride at how we competed and excelled in science, industry, and technology. The only threat I can remember is when Japan and Germany began importing inexpensive cars. American automotive companies fired back with similarly priced with boxy looks. However, as time progressed foreign automotive overtook American companies causing a chunk of our industry leaving the United States.

Should we be celebrating Labor Day as anyone with a job? Do we honor those factory workers in Bangladesh or China? More than likely today 90% of our household appliances, cars and sciences were built on the contributions of foreign workers. I am beginning to see the disgust of American rhetoric becoming a tough pill for citizens to swallow. It is not the fault of foreign workers. Instead, it is the failure of American companies avoiding paying American workers by moving operations overseas or outsourcing.

What I find ironic is that Labor Day is celebrated as perhaps a marketing scheme. There is a Labor Day NASCAR race and of course the Labor Day shopping mall sales. To me, it diminishes the spirit of Labor Day and a reflection on workers. Those that should be enjoying a rest are put to the tests of stresses by working overtime. Maybe we if became contemplative in our thoughts during holidays we would become a bit more respectful and truly proud of our accomplishments. We may even find a bit of unity to keep jobs from being outsourced or migrated overseas.

Internet Porn Addiction

Recently Pamela Anderson wrote an Op-Ed on the addictive dangers of pornography. I agree that internet porn addiction is an issue. However, I would interject that internet addiction is just as critical. While I am out eating at a restaurant, I will notice people sitting at a table not engaged with each other but texting or playing on a mobile device. The recent storm of Pokemon Go may be adding to our internet addiction. There is a problem because on the go internet applications used on mobile devices have led to an increase in injuries because people are not paying attention.

Let us go back to internet porn addiction. I would argue that relationships, in general, could be one reason for internet porn addiction. After all, pornography, in general, is all about fantasy and desire. When a couple has differing sexual norms then, of course, there will be an imbalance of sexual needs. For example, the recent movie Fifty Shades of Gray highlights some role play of pain versus pleasure. If a Fifty Shades scenario were brought into every bedroom, there would be an increase in separation or divorce rates. Not to mention a possible increase in police calls for claims of domestic violence. I think it is important that books like Fifty Shades of Gray are not the Kamasutra but a catalyst. This is where the internet porn has become the online version of the Kamasutra. The fact is society has forced many sexually based conversations into nearly scrubbed political correct conversation making it nearly impossible to discuss. Perhaps this is a reason internet porn addiction is raising because we are not addressing the core forms of sexuality. When people cannot discuss a matter, then it creates a false safe place.

It should also be a far cry that Pamela Anderson should be discussing internet porn when one of her homemade videos surfaced causing a curiosity storm to see it. Sarcastically speaking I guess Pamela was making a homemade film to look back on. The fact is that humanity has interests and questions. The problem is that we have attempted to become this strict standard in an internet world. The hazard I see is there are many addictions without an open dialog or safe space to discuss remedies. American culture is the birthplace of Playboy, Hustler, and internet porn. It won’t go away until we begin discussing why millions of viewers enjoy it and are addicted to it. Just banning porn will only shift content to the underground where it will become an easier black market.

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