ANECDOTE 008: October 1, 2006
Eddie and I frequent a fine fast-food restaurant for chicken
nuggets and chocolate milk. I regularly order the #2 (small)
with a soda. Over the summer, during several visits, either
Eddie or I have spilt the milk by placing the plastic bottle
on an uneven surface due to a french-fry or a catsup packet,
or a straw, or a tray bevel. We have spilt the milk by reaching
across the table, knocking over the bottle in the process.
We have also by poorly grasping the bottle, thus slipping
through the fingers. The milk usually spilt all over the
table, the chair, Eddie, and the faux clay-tiled floor--making
Napkins galore, I would swab the eight-ounce spill before
crying would occur by the restaurant staff, who have developed
a keen sense for surveilling this type of incident. However,
Eddie would become upset. Why? This toddler cried like a
baby, not because of the loss of beverage, but because of
his soiled clothes--dampened and discolored. Fortunately,
there was a change of clothes in the car--a habit from his
infancy days. Alternatively, if we were en route to his
grandmother's house for a wade in the pool, we had a swimsuit
as a quick solution.
Eddie and I were on a good spill-run, so we decidedly alternated
restaurant locations to fulfill our chicken nugget and #2
cravings, hoping that the surveillance team had not connected
Becoming more parentally experienced, I have taken to asking
for a small paper cup with a lid because for some reason
the design of the bottle is conducive to toppling over at
the slightest touch; the rounded
edges at the base of the bottle might be a factor.
I cautiously step through the process for the transfer from
bottle to cup.
I open the slender cylinder plastic bottle of chocolate
milk. I pour the milk into the crisply edged, inverted conical
paper cup. I put on the seal-tight lid, and insert a straw
through the perforated hole in the center of the lid. Now
the chocolate milk has been insolated in the best spill-resistant
This is not rocket science! However, there is a
lot of engineering
involved for this seemingly common bottle and cup,
let alone the mechanics
that take place to mold
the plastic and shape the paper into their present form.
But just, let's not go there!!!
Eddie's taste buds are developing. He is distinguishing
liquid flavors. Eddie enjoys chocolate milk as does he soda.
Over the last several fast-food feasts, Eddie has requested
to "taste" the chocolate milk with the soda. I,
not interested in playing the mixologist, recommended that
he experiment by taking a sip of milk, then a sip of soda,
then swish the two liquids in his mouth. Eddie's experiment
went well for him to the extent that each time we sit down
to begin the nugget meal, he requests to conduct the "dual
On this last feast, however, the experiment went awry.
As Eddie was engrossed with sipping then swishing, he placed
the cup of soda on the edge of the table. The drink immediately
fell to the floor, which for some reason was carpeted. Carpeted!?!
Who was the rocket scientist that came up with the idea
to carpet the floor of a fast-food restaurant??? Forget
the rocket scientist. Should not we blame the social engineer
who is attempting to design a more intimate space and experience?
Such questions fleeted through my mind as I tried to determine
how best to clean the spill without notifying the restaurant
team for fear of being banned. [I'm still traumatized from
the spousal reprimands for coffee spillage at home.] Realizing
that there were surveillance cameras recording this event,
I promptly picked up the ice off the brown and blue patterned
After reminding Eddie that drinks get placed on the table,
not on the floor, I ran up to the condiment stand to get
some napkins to blot the liquid twenty-ounces from the carpet.
When I returned, for what was like eleven seconds later,
the spill seemingly disappeared. Did the soda soak into
the carpet, or did the carpet absorb the soda? I stepped
on the spot where the spill had occurred; there was no squishy
sound. I touched the area with my fingers: relatively damp.
I looked up to Eddie. I did not think he took a straw to
the spill and slurped up the reservoir. Eeewww!!! Too gross
for words, and not plausible given the timeframe. So, I
wondered what happened.
Amazing how the carpet handled the spill: no need to alert
the authorities; no need to worry about an unsightly stain;
no need to worry about customers slipping and falling and
Total risk management. This carpet offered a win-win solution
for the lax consumer as well as corporate legal. Relieved,
I went back to enjoying the rest of my meal, dry mouthed,
without the tasty liquid refreshment.
Now, I know there is no need for such carpeting in outer
space, so I cannot thank the rocket scientist, but do I
want to acknowledge the social engineer who took into consideration
intimacy and experience when designing the carpet--because
circumstantial stress was soothed.