All I Wanted Was a Cheese Burger Combo

Its been awhile since I had stopped to eat in this particular fast food joint. You know the one, it’s commercials have the gorgeous redhead talking about buns. Most times I just go through the drive-thru and I’m on my way. but I needed to get away and clear my head this particular afternoon so I ate-in. It was the usual combo order where they set out an empty tray and hand you an empty paper cup just to give you something to do while you wait for food. With cup in hand I turn toward where the eight choice, push button soda fountain used to be. It’s not there. Same corner with the same condiments and straws and cup lids and plastic forks – but no sodas!

Then I see it! It’s the size of a refrigerator. There’s a video screen on the front. The screen shows a swirling animation of various logos of pop and juice. With four touch screen areas marked ‘Caffeine/No Caffeine’, ‘Diet/Non-Diet’, Fruit Juice’ and ‘All’, the entire beverage industry of America had been summed up in one machine-driven video screen. I didn’t know at this point whether I heard the angel choir or the wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Slightly stunned at the unexpected life complexity I was facing I pressed the area on the screen marked ‘All’. Nothing happens. I tried again, harder this time, finally with success. So… not so much a touch screen as a pound-on-it screen. I then remembered even though I asked the guy behind the counter for Pepsi and he had handed me a cup without comment, this fast food joint was a Coke place as the prominently animated logo proclaimed. Now, since I had pressed ‘All’ I was faced with the choice of Coke, Fanta, Dasani and more – the entire corporate stable. Really! I only wanted a simple soda. So I then drilled down to Coke.

Are You Kidding?! The screen had morphed into another myriad of choices. Now I had to decide among caffeine free, diet, regular – Wait! That’s the one! A simple Coke! With caffeine, with tons of processed sugar! Quickly I put the cup under the spigot and pound on the touch screen. And after all the time it took me to learn a new pop machine, drill down to my choice and wait for the cup to fill, I was able to turn around and my burger and fries was ready.

I know that all of this is for better customer service. More product choices. Better living through technology. Pick your marketing bullshit features fed to corporate offices through video conferencing. But I was perfectly happy back when I was faced with only seven or eight choices, – put my cup under the spigot and push the button marked ‘Push’. I was done in the time it took to fill the cup and didn’t have to drill down through layers of choices. Has anyone in today’s generation heard of the KISS principle?