Lunch, the HP Way

This is the story of a different kind. No melting CPUs, no screaming
disc drives, just the kind of psychological torture that scars a man
for life.

I had a 9:00 meeting with my sales rep. I needed to buy an entire new
series 70, the works. He said itd take about an hour. Three hours
later, wed barely got the datacomm hardware down on paper, so he
invited me downstairs for lunch.

This was my first experience in an HP cafeteria. Above the service
counter was a menu which began…

MMUs (Main Menu Units)

0001A Burger. Includes sesame-seed bun.

Must order condiments 00110A separately

001Deletes seeds.
002 Expands burger to two patties.

00020A Double cheeseburger, preconfigured. Includes cheese,
bun and condiments.

001 Add-on bacon.
002 Delete second patty.
003 Replaces second patty with extra cheese.

00021A Burger Upgrade to Double Cheeseburger

001 From Single Burger.
002 From Double Burger.
003 Return credit for bun.

00220A Burger Bundle. Includes 00010A, 00210A and

001 Substitute root beer 00311A for cola 00310A.

My eyes glazed over. I asked for a burger and a root beer. The
waitress looked at me like I was an alien.

How would you like to order that, sir?

Quickly, if possible. Cant I just order a sandwich and a drink?

No sir. All our service is menu driven. Now what would you like?

I scanned the menu. How big is the 00010 burger?

The patty is rated at eight bites.

Well, how about the rest of it?

I dont have the specs on that, sir, but I think its a bit more.

Eight bites is too small. Give me the Double Burger Upgrade.

My sales rep interrupted. No, you want the Single Burger option 002
expands burger to two patties. The double burger upgrade would give
you two burgers.

But you could get return credit on the extra bun, the waitress chimed
in, trying to be helpful, although it isnt documented.

I looked around to see if anybody was staring at me. There was a
couple in line behind us. I recognized one of them, a guy who merely
mowed me down in the parking lot with his cherry-red 62 Vette. He was
talking to some woman who was waving her arms around and looking very

What if… we marketed the bacon cheeseburger with the vegetable
option and without the burger and cheese? Itd be a BLT!

The woman charged off in the direction of the telephone, running
steeplechases over tables and chairs. My waitress tried to get my
attention again. Have you decided, sir?

Yeah, give me the double burger- excuse me, I mean the 00020A with the
option 001. I want everything on it. She put me down for the
Condiment Expansion Kit, which included mayonnaise, mustard and pickles
with a option to substitute relish.

Ketchup. I hated to ask. I want ketchup on that, too.

Thats not a condiment, sir, its a Tomato Product. My sales rep
butted in again. Thats not a supported configuration.

What now? I kept my voice steady.

Too juicy. The bun cant handle it.

Look. Forget the ketchup, just put some lettuce and tomatoes on it.

The waitress backed away from the counter. Im sorry, sir, but thats
not supported either, the bun can take it but the burger wont fit in
the box. The sales rep defended himself. Just not at first release.
It is being beta-tested, sir.

I checked the overhead screen. Fries, number 000210A, option 110.
French followed by option 120, English. What the hell are English
Fries? I turned to the sales rep. Chips they call them. We sell a
lot of them.

I gave up. OK, OK just give me a plain vanilla Burger Bundle. The
confused the waitress profoundly. Sir, Vanilla as an option is
configured only for series 00450 Milkshakes. My sales rep chuckles.
No maam, he just wants a standard 00220A off the shelf. I wondered
how long it had been on the shelf. I didnt ask.

Very good, sir. The waitress breathed a sigh off relief. Your meal
is now on order. Now how would you like it supported?

Support? She directed me to the green shaded area at the bottom of
the menu, and I began a litany with my Sales Rep that Ill never

Implementation assistance?

You get a waiter.

Implementation analysis?

You tell him how hungry you are and he tells you what to eat.

Response Center Support?

He brings it to your table.

Extended materials?

You get refills.

I stuffed some money at the waitress and told her to take it. She gave me my check on three sheets of green-bar paper. I studied it on my way to the table, and decided itd pass as an emergency napkin.

Table? My Sales Rep had been bright enough to order us a table. He hadnt been bright enough to check on a delivery date. The table waiter slouching in his corner surveyed the crowded room, looked at me and said, Two weeks. But I can get you a standalone chair by the window right away.

I handed him the tray. A woman rushed up to me with two small cups of
chile and sauerkraut for the hot dog somebody else had ordered. The
room began to grom dim, my eyesight faded…

I woke up clutching the water-glass at my bedside table. It was five
AM, four hours till my meeting with HP. I had had a vision, I did what
it told me to do. I dialed my office, and I called in sick.

By Stephen Harrison and Noel Magee

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