Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Way the World Works

There's this game I play called "Diner Dash." I'm not sure what genre it would fall under, although I've heard it called an RPG and a point and click, but that makes it sound more complicated than it is. In it you are a waitress (RPG) and you are working towards a goal by waiting on tables. You have to seat customers, take their order, bring them their food, bring them their bill, and bus the table by clicking on things in order (point and click). You have limited time to do this, shown by little hearts beneath them--take too long the hearts go down, seat them next to loud customers, hearts go down. No more hearts and they leave and you lose money. I had played nearly to the end making the standard goal, but never the expert. Now the trick to making the most money is not, as you might think, keeping the heart gage full--thus the happiest customers. No, the trick is to do things in groups. Take all the orders at once, bring all the food at once, give all of the bills at once and bus all at once, EVEN IF IT MEANS SOME CUSTOMERS WAIT and lose hearts. As long as they don't lose all of the hearts you're good. Oh, and they are dressed in different colors (red, yellow, blue, green) and seating them in the same color seat will get you points too. Not sure what that means. At first this realization annoyed me because it just made me think of my days in corporate retail. A store would get more penalties if it had happy customers, but wasn't selling what the big bosses thought it should be selling, than having slightly unhappy customers, but selling whatever the product was. My husband's book store for instance outsold everybody on Mystery and Sci-Fi, because he and a co-worker cared about those departments but they didn't match the quotas on best sellers because my husband and the others weren't into pushing a title they thought was stupid (Dan Brown anyone?) Never mind that the numbers matched--the regional directors would come down and make them send back the good sci-fi and mystery in favor of the best sellers. The fabric store I worked in had trouble getting enough flannel because the parent company was in southern California and couldn't believe we needed flannel all year long, so that's what I thought was going on in this game--teaching us to do it one way, happiness be damned. But then I began to realize that by being "proactive," instead of "reactive," sort of saying, "No, I won't take your order until the table next to you orders as well," actually helped you guide the course of the game. It became less frenzied and more rhythmic. Can life be like this as well? I actually think that I'm pretty good at grouping things in my life and helping others see the value of it--proactive, not reactive. This is the time for me to do this--don't let anything interrupt you, but I'm not a master at it. I don't, for instance, know how to do it for people, to guide people to the conclusion I'm looking for. It's why I'm not a salesperson. I can't seem to sacrifice the little happiness for the bigger picture. At the same time, I'm not sure if it really is the best way to run things if happiness, not money or efficiency is our goal.

No comments: