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Anomalizer's Journal
Unintended consequences
Crazy for food? 
3rd-Apr-2010 05:56 pm
Casual
Historically, I come from a country that has faced food shortage at a "national level" multiple times even in the past 100 years. Even thought officially there is no food shortage most of the times, a large number of people still do not get to have the proverbial three square meals a day. I for one, have been fortunate enough to not have come even remotely close to a situation wherein I had worry about availability of a meal. Technically I did exactly once in my life when I was making my first international travel but that was more due me getting a bit disoriented and nothing more.

Put it another way, I am so privileged in life that I actually sometimes end up snickering when I see people clamouring for food without a real need to do so. Let me cite two highly anecdotal evidences.

There a new American eat-out joint whose franchise has recently found its way into my city. A well known phenomena in my country is that every time this happens in a city, there is a mad rush in the initial few months to get into such a place. Over time, the magnitude of craziness has been declining but it exists nonetheless. At least until this particular place opened up. There is apparently a line running into hundreds of people. One of the main causes of the problem supposedly is that the great American concept of unlimited refills is being offered in the said location; for Rs 30. Now you have to understand that in an average mall, one bottle/cup/can of an aerated drink (or cool drink as my fellow countrymen will call it) costs much more than this. So the situation that has developed seems to be one wherein people who find a table now don't budge under they have committed sufficient atrocities to their digestive and excretory systems by drinking on for hours until they realize they are one step short of needing an ambulance. If you were to step back and look at the situation, you realize that the kind of people who clamour to these joints are not the ones who have to worry about availability and affordability of food. They definitely are in no need to the extract the maximum juice (this is not a pun since aerated drinks have no real juice in them) out of the unlimited refills and yet instinctively they do it.

Another example is one I found at my workplace. At lunch, we used to have a system wherein the rotis were made during the lunch and people used to pick it up as part of the buffet. There were situations wherein, the production would fall behind for a couple of minutes and then things would come back to normal. During those blips, it was considered good manners to not go the full hog. By full hog, I mean if you intended to pick up 4 rotis, you would end up picking just one or two and come back later for a refill. The idea was to ease the pressure on the system. It is not hard to see how this self correcting system works well in a steady state. However, I have seen a couple of folks who would not leave without picking up as much as they want for the entire meal in one shot. Inadvertently, such a behaviour would result in a larger pileup of people waiting for their turn.

So what is the point I am trying to make you ask? The point is that people's insecurities about food sometimes ends up showing involuntarily in places where there is no need for it. The fortunate enough people like me sometimes snicker when we notice this happening. This is meant to be a reminder to all such people that you are fortunate that you lack an insecurity for food. While it is harmless fun to enjoy the moments I mentioned above, don't try and fix that situation. If you want to fix anything, go fix the real food shortage problem.
Comments 
4th-Apr-2010 07:13 am (UTC) - America. GIANT food warehouse Costco.
Free samples...UTTER STAMPEDE CATTLE CALL!

And these are people who can pay for a membership to the club wherein you can buy BULK containers of anykind of food for CHEAP!
10th-Apr-2010 04:32 am (UTC)
Taco Bell?
10th-Apr-2010 07:27 am (UTC)
Does it matter? But yes, the guess was correct.
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