I took some friends 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 consulting 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 and 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.”
“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 through the process, I asked, “Hey, wait a minute. If the string helps you pull it out, how do you get it back in?”
“Well,” he whispered, “I don’t know about the other guys; but I use my spoon.”