The Efficiency Expert

Last week, we took some friends out to a new restaurant and noticed that the waiter who took our order carried a spoon in his shirt pocket. It seemed a little strange. When another waiter brought our water, I noticed he also had a spoon in his shirt pocket. Then I looked around and saw that all the staff had spoons in their pockets.

When the waiter came back to serve our soup, I asked, "Why the spoon?"

"Well, he explained, "the restaurant's owners hired an efficiency expert to revamp all our processes. After several months of analysis, he concluded that the spoon was the most frequently dropped utensil. It represents a drop frequency of approximately 3 spoons per waiter's shift. They determined that if our personnel were better prepared, we can reduce the number of trips back to the kitchen and save 5 man-hours per shift."

"Amazing," I said. "I can see how that would really increase efficiency." And as luck would have it, I dropped my spoon and he was able to replace it with his spare. "I'll get another spoon next time I go to the kitchen, instead of making an extra trip to get it right now," he explained.

I was impressed. I also noticed that there was a string hanging out of the waiter's fly. Looking around, I noticed that all the waiters had the same string hanging from their flies. So before he walked off, I asked the waiter, "Excuse me, but can you tell me why you have that string right there?"

"Well, management doesn't like us to talk about that," he said in a lowered voice. "Not everyone is so observant, and I see how interested you are, so I'll tell you. That expert I mentioned also found out that we can save time in the restroom. By tying this string to the tip of our peckers, we can pull it out without touching it and eliminate the need to wash our hands, shortening the time spent in the restroom by 50 percent."

"But," I asked, "After you get it out, how do you put it back?"

"Well," he whispered, "I don't know about the others, but I use the spoon."

Posted January 30, 2008

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