Mickey Deez Nuts

Robot Kiosks Aren’t People!

Okay let’s get right to the point, I don’t have time to do a whole review of kettle chips or bomb-ass french fry spots in the city because there’s something that needs addressing. It’s happening right now people, go to McDonald’s here in beautiful San Francisco, and you might see the automated ordering kiosks, where you can fumble through your order on a giant touchscreen in front of half a dozen people who are all hungry for McDonald’s. You finally place your order, you wait and it’s like you’re in a Starbucks all of a sudden, your number, which you chose, which is separate from your order number, is called and a smiling McDonald’s employee puts your order on the counter and you go get it. You choose your soda like you’ve been doing at the movies since the first Dark Knight came out, from a kiosk where now you can get strawberry vanilla ginger ale.

It all has the feel of the future you know, like kids under the age of 6 will look back at old pictures of McDonald’s when they’re older and go, wow, look at those cavemen, having the guy behind the counter draw from one of four soda choices and diet versions. Where are the big screen kiosks, the social media tie-ins, the facial recognition, pre-loaded ordering and anti-Trump graffiti?

But the important thing to notice in this whole manifest destiny of technology that brings us to tapping on a screen so we can pay for fast food is how fake the whole thing is. The real motive behind this is to make it less necessary to pay people to do a job a robot could do. Okay sure, you get to choose more sodas but you can’t order your fries crispy or anything. I mean the McDonald’s that have these new systems are trying to look like they’re better than McDonald’s, when they are always McDonald’s but they want to make the upgrade look like something it’s not. It’s not some heightened form of service where you get to choose what you want, they subtly make it harder to do things. You could probably ask to get a 4 piece McNugget meal from the clerk, or at least order the McNuggets, the fries and the drink from him or her. Try bargaining with the motherless kiosk in front of you with the line increasing behind you.

Maybe I’m too old and jaded to embrace the new technology. Instead of seeing the bigger picture perhaps I’m just exposing my own bitterness. After all, I do seem to care a lot about what happens at McDonald’s. But I know that McDonald’s is a cultural icon not unlike Starbucks and I wonder if I’ll be reading blogs from caffeine junkies in a few years talking about how much they love/hate the new ordering at Starbucks with the screen and the robotic syrup dispenser that either made the pumpkin spice latte perfect or ruined it. The service industry will be nothing more than refilling trays and bags with raw ingredients. That and repairing robots I guess.

I don’t imagine there’s a great improvement in the rest of the food at McDonald’s I can only speak to the fries and sometimes their apple pies. The fries have not improved with this change. Perhaps it’s just the letdown after dialing in my order on the big shiny screen and then picking up slightly undercooked fries and no idea where the pepper is. Everybody was at least as confused as I so it wasn’t so bad. But the french fries, man, I thought I missed them while they were renovating my spot. Now I’m wondering if it’s worth it anymore.

Check out what the awful people over at Business Insider have to say about McDonald’s kiosks.