Idea

March 27, 1998

The other day I saw some taco hot dogs. Seriously. They’re hot dogs that are supposed to taste like tacos. This means product development has gone about as far as it can possibly go, and all we have to look forward to as the millenium approaches are weird combinations and watered down versions of things that were really original innovative ideas a few decades ago. Looking back to the first millenium, though, I found that things weren’t that different.

I can’t tell you how many different varieties of mutton on a stick were tried by roadside vendors trying to cope with lords and ladies who were no longer swayed by traditional advertising, and there were even more different ideas about how to put a horse and a wagon together, remakes of popular plays, and hundreds of troubadors dressed in rags and removed six of the eight strings from their lutes under the influence of the Ennui Movement. Then there was the First Crusade, a big budget blockbuster so wildly popular it inspired endless sequels, spinoffs, and even versions for children. But there, I think, is the problem. A thousand years ago, if you felt apathetic and weary of hype, sarcasm, and apathy, you could run off to a distant land, kill a few heathens, spend some time in a Turkish prison, and it would put things in perspective. What we need now is a new Crusade, and with equal opportunities, more people than ever could fight in them.

But that’s the trouble. Since political correctness has robbed us of all the heathens, who do we go after? Simple: aliens! What if those aliens people claim have been abducting them are real? Once we get past their superior technology and mind-control powers, they’re pretty weak, scrawny little guys, so they’d be really easy targets. Sure, for the ambitious few it wouldn’t be worth it, but think of all the other people whose self-esteem would be boosted by blowing away a big-eyed round-headed heathen. And by the time we got done with all that, people would be clamoring for regular hot dogs. And for the few who still wanted the new and differen’t, there’d be plenty of Martian burgers to go around.

Enjoy these totally new offerings.


I took some clients out to dinner last week, and I noticed a spoon in the shirt pocket of our waiter as he handed us the menus. It seemed a little odd, but I dismissed it as a random thing. Until our busboy came with water & tableware; he,too,sported a spoon in his breast-pocket. I looked around the room, and all the waiters, waitresses, busboys,etc. had spoons in their pockets. When our waiter returned to take our order, I just had to ask, "Why the spoons?"

"Well," he explained, "our parent company recently hired some quality efficiency experts to review all our procedures, and after months of statistical analyses, they concluded that our patrons drop spoons on the floor 73% more often than any other utensil at a frequency of 3 spoons per hour per workstation. By preparing all our workers for this contingency in advance, we can cut our trips to the kitchen down and save time…nearly 1.5 extra man hours per shift."

Just as he concluded, a "ch-ching" came from the table behind him, and he quickly replaced a fallen spoon with the one from his pocket. "I’ll grab another spoon the next time I’m in the kitchen instead of making a special trip," he proudly explained. I was impressed.

"Thanks. I had to ask." "No problem," he answered, then he continued to take our orders. As the members of my dinner party took their turns, my eyes darted back & forth from each person ordering and my menu. That’s when, out of the corner of my eye,I spotted a thin, black thread protruding from our waiter’s fly. Again, I dismissed it; yet I had to scan the room and, sure enough, there were other waiters & busboys with strings hanging out of their trousers. My curiosity overrode discretion at this point, so before he could leave I had to ask.

"Excuse me, but…uh…why, or what…about that string?" "Oh, yeah" he began in a quieter tone. "Not many people are that observant. That same efficiency group found we could save time in the Men’s room, too."

"How’s that?"

"You see, by tying a string to the end of our, eh, SELVES, we can pull it out at the urinals literally hands-free and thereby eliminate the need to wash our hands, cutting time spent in the restroom by over 93%!"

"Oh, that makes sense," I said, but then thinking thru the process, I asked "Hey, wait-a-minute. If the string helps you pull it out, how to you get it back in?"

"Well," he whispered, "I don’t know about the other guys; but I use my spoon."


DRUG DEALERS AND SOFTWARE DEVELOPERS: COINCIDENCE?

Drug dealers: refer to their clients as "users."
Software developers: refer to their clients as "users."

DD: "The first one’s free!"
SD: "Download a free trial version…"

DD: Have important South-East Asian connections to help move the stuff).
SD: Have important South-East Asian connections (to help debug the code).

DD: Strange jargon: "Stick," "Rock," "Dime bag," "E."
SD: Strange jargon: "SCSI," "RTFM," "Java," "ISDN."

DD: Realize that there’s tons of cash in the 14- to 25-year-old market.
SD: Realize that there’s tons of cash in the 14- to 25-year-old market.

DD: Job is assisted by the industry’s producing newer, more potent mixes.
SD: Job is assisted by industry’s producing newer, faster machines.

DD: Often seen in the company of pimps and hustlers.
SD: Often seen in the company of venture capitalists.

DD: Their product causes unhealthy addictions.
SD: DOOM. Quake. SimCity. Duke Nukem 3D. ‘Nuff said.

DD: Do your job well, and you can sleep with sexy movie stars who depend on you.
SD: Damn! Damn! DAMN!!!


HOW TO SCREW UP AN INTERVIEW

We’ve all been interviewed for jobs. And, we’ve all spent most of those interviews thinking about what not to do. Don’t bite your nails. Don’t fidget. Don’t interrupt. Don’t belch. If we did any of the don’ts, we knew we’d disqualify ourselves instantly. But some job applicants go light years beyond this. We surveyed top personnel executives of 100 major American corporations and asked for stories of unusual behavior by job applicants. The lowlights:

  1. "… stretched out on the floor to fill out the job application."
  2. "She wore a Walkman and said she could listen to me and the music at the same time."
  3. " A balding candidate abruptly excused himself. Returned to office a few minutes later, wearing a hairpiece."
  4. "… asked to see interviewer’s resume to see if the personnel executive was qualified to judge the candidate."
  5. "… announced she hadn’t had lunch and proceeded to eat a hamburger and french fries in the interviewer’s office – wiping the ketchup on her sleeve"
  6. "Stated that, if he were hired, he would demonstrate his loyalty by having the corporate logo tattooed on his forearm."
  7. "Interrupted to phone his therapist for advice on answering specific interview questions."
  8. "When I asked him about his hobbies, he stood up and started tap dancing around my office."
  9. "At the end of the interview, while I stood there dumbstruck, went through my purse, took out a brush, brushed his hair, and left."
  10. "… pulled out a Polaroid camera and snapped a flash picture of me. Said he collected photos of everyone who interviewed him."
  11. "Said he wasn’t interested because the position paid too much."
  12. "While I was on a long-distance phone call, the applicant took out a copy of Penthouse, and looked through the photos only, stopping longest at the centerfold."
  13. "During the interview, an alarm clock went off from the candidate’s brief case. He took it out, shut it off, apologized and said he had to leave for another interview."
  14. "A telephone call came in for the job applicant. It was from his wife. His side of the conversation went like this: "Which company? When do I start? What’s the salary?" I said, "I assume you’re not interested in conducting the interview any further." He promptly responded, "I am as long as you’ll pay me more."
    "I didn’t hire him, but later found out there was no other job offer. It was a scam to get a higher offer."
  15. "His attache [case] opened when he picked it up and the contents spilled, revealing ladies’ undergarments and assorted makeup and perfume."
  16. "Candidate said he really didn’t want to get a job, but the unemployment office needed proof that he was looking for one."
  17. "… asked who the lovely babe was, pointing to the picture on my desk. When I said it was my wife, he asked if she was home now and wanted my phone number. I called security."
  18. "Pointing to a black case he carried into my office, he said that if he was not hired, the bomb would go off. Disbelieving, I began to state why he would never be hired and that I was going to call the police. He then reached down to the case, flipped a switch and ran. No one was injured, but I did need to get a new desk."

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