Thursday, June 21, 2012

We Have The Technology: Romney Was Right To Be Amazed By Touch_Screen Sandwich Shop

You may have heard about MSNBC's failed attempt at editing a video of Mitt Romney exclaiming over a touch-screen at a Wawa (no I'd never heard of this chain before, either) to make him look like an out-of-touch plutocrat. Turns out that the touch-screen system at Wawa is very impressive, and is worth discussing in a "what a world we live in" kind of way.

I live in South Jersey, where we have more Wawas per square mile than any place on earth. They were a regional milk provider who started selling sandwiches and coffee, and became a kind of upscale 7-11. It’s a huge success story. They make a damn good sub and a better cup of coffee than Starbucks at half the price. 
The thing is, their touchscreen ordering system is a great example innovative tech in daily use. It’s a brilliant, relatively recent application of touch screen technology for custom food orders. Other stores may have something similar, but I’ve never seen one in common use anywhere other than Wawas. (My Shop Rite has something similar for ordering cold cuts.)  I doubt very much Mitchell has either. 
I’m still impressed by the panels, which work well under heavy use and are designed in such a way that technophobes can navigate them with ease. They’re adjustable, easy-to-read, and responsive. You can pick from a wide selection of condiments and toppings, and even choose the amount of mayo or olive oil, add bacon or extra cheese, choose to have it toasted, and order things on the side. Automating this element of the process also eliminates errors in orders and makes the entire process more efficient. It’s a good system. It must have been a risk for Wawa, and it deserves a shoutout. 
Honestly? I get a little thrill every time I use it, but then again I’m a technonerd. I actually like Romney a bit more for showing this gee-whiz side of his usually robotic self. We should be amazed by amazing things. I like a man with a sense of wonder. When did wonder become a quality to be mocked?

You know, it just occurred to me that the "out of touch millionaire gee-whizzing over technology" cliche makes no sense. The wealthy are often the first ones who can afford to buy gadgets and high-tech gizmos before the rest of us slobs. Don't you  think that Mitt Romney's house with, among other things, its car elevator, might have some pretty snazzy technical elements? 

Romney probably has had experience with high-tech, both in his personal life and his business life, that the rest of us can only imagine. He has a great deal of respect and enthusiasm for technological progress. He is certainly not ignorant or out of touch. 

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