Breakfast with the Blue Screen of Death

Blue Screen of Death!

Anne and I went out for our usual Saturday breakfast today and were greeted with a fun reminder of how much the restaurant business has changed since ye olden tymes. The young crew members who provided us with grade-A coffee and service explained the error happened the night before and…well, here it still was. Oops!

I can vouch for the fact that restaurant tech support, even for major corporate chains, isn’t always a 24-hour service. Back in the day, though, we didn’t need it to keep our menus from crashing.

When Anne and I were in the restaurant biz as teens and young adults, the menu boards where we worked were a combination of large, laminated food photos and plastic strips containing each item name, backed with little tape rolls of the numbers 0-9 for each digit in each price. When products changed, we grabbed a chair so we could reach the menu board above the counter, then swapped out new name strips for the discontinued. If the owner ordered a price increase, we had to swivel the face of the menu board open and upward to access the numbers from behind, then carefully roll the number-tape forward for each new digit. Usually this meant a face full of dust as we opened and shut the board, and it meant getting in the way of the other employees trying to navigate around our makeshift pedestal and keep serving customers while we made the ordered adjustments. We had to make sure each digit would be visible through the portholes in the menu strips, that none would appear stuck halfway between digits, and that this was done for all the multiple menu boards both inside and in drive-thru.

It was an annoying, meticulous task, sometimes taking forever whenever prices were increased across multiple product lines, but that’s how it was done. That’s where the technology was at the time, but it was something within our control. We never had to worry about half our menu being wiped out by severe Windows failure.

Personally I’m not sure why the managers thought showing off the Blue Screen of Death to all customers was preferable to simply turning off the one monitor till their IT guys could wake up from their Friday night hangovers and fix the offending code. Or why they wouldn’t design the system so clearing such issues takes just a quick one-button reboot/reset. Then again, they’re the restaurant managers and I’m not anymore, so I’m out of touch with the current schools of thought.

3 responses

  1. Pingback: WPC: Oops (Shower Power Lines) | Chris Breebaart Photography / What's (in) the picture?

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