Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Call Button That Does Not Call Anyone

Hi there! Welcome to I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You, the blog with a buy one/get one free special. I'm Dave-El and may I take your order please? 

So this past weekend, I and the rest of the Els actually absconded from the Fortress of Ineptitude for the first time in over a month to dine out. Due to my illness for the last several weeks, we've been eating at home. My wife actually did some cooking which is a bit of a feat for her. It's not that she can't cook but that she takes so damn long doing it because she obsesses over details. If something takes a 1/2 cup of water, she will meticulously make sure there is exactly 1/2 cup of water in the measuring cup. "That looks more like 3/7 of a cup. Let's add a little itsy bitsy more water and...no, now it's 4/7 of a cup. Hold on, let's pour a little out. OK, it's short again. Better add a bit and....blast, too much!" And so on and so on. 

When she didn't cook, it was take out and delivery. So after over a month of that, the idea of sitting down at a table somewhere not at home with a knife and a fork and a plate had a certain appeal. So Saturday we went to lunch at Red Robin. 

Red Robin is a chain restaurant that features a variety of overpriced specialty burgers. It has the distinction of being relatively close to the family fortress and has a chicken tender meal that my daughter will actually eat. So off we went.  

Over in Europe, you can find restaurants with kiosks right at the table where diners can pay their bill without a credit card being in the hands of waiters who maybe in the back making a mold of the card in Play-Do. This is starting to catch on in America and in particular, Red Robin.  

I don't have a problem with this particular innovation. I'm all in favor of this development as a convenient and secure resource for paying via credit card. But this pay kiosk can be used for other functions such as summoning your server if you require their assistance. Which would be a good thing if it worked.  

As we were nearing the end of our meal, we wanted to get a couple of drink refills to-go. Hey, at $4 for Freckled Lemonade, you get all you can get for the money. We also needed a to-go box as my daughter had not quite finished her meal.  So we pressed the call server button which caused a red light on the kiosk to blink. And we waited. 

And we waited. 

And we waited.  

And then our waitress arrived. 

No, I'm kidding. We waited. 

And we waited. 

OK, for real this time, our waitress shows up. But instead of asking how she may be of service, she immediately reaches for the kiosk and directs the device through the pay bill function. I guess she assumed we did not know how to pay a bill through this thing.  

I had to interrupt her and explain we called her because we needed additional service. And we had been waiting for several minutes. 

Our waitress apologized and explain the the "call server" function does not send any kind of an alert to the wait staff. 

So let me get this straight. This kiosk thing has a "call server" button that actually does not CALL a server.  What the hell? 

That bugged me and added to the bugging I was already feeling that the waitress had left us alone so long without checking on us and then presumed to know why we called her without first asking.  

It was perhaps a minor transgression but since it was my first time eating out in a long time, I was particularly irked by it. It strikes me as the all too often failing of relying on technology to cover things we can't completely rely on. 

Really, a call button that doesn't actually call anyone? Really?

And I'm so glad my suffering amuses you. 

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