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I like my burger medium rare.  Five Guys posts a conspicuous sign over their counter, announcing “We cook all our burgers well-done and juicy,” an oxymoron if there ever was one.  I requested of the order guy that they take mine off the grill a little earlier.  This simple request was met with unwavering denial.  I escalated my sentiments to the manager.  No deal.  He cited fear of disease, lawsuits, losing his job, and other untoward calamities.  I drew two conclusions from his company’s obsession with risk.  The meat must have an incredibly high fat content, insofar as that’s what the “juice” in a hot burger is—melted fat.  To the analytical mind, their posted sign was a virtual admission that, despite cooking the tar out it, there was so much fat the patty still oozed of it. Similarly, one might conclude that the meat was old and of poor quality, crawling with bacteria, viral pathogens, and a menagerie of spores and critters that could be destroyed only by immolation.  I offered to sign a release, a waiver forfeiting all rights to sue in the probability that their meat and assorted contaminants should make me ill or dead.  He wouldn’t budge.   

 

 

As much as I like and respect Five Guys, the negative connotation in their message and total lack of customer-centricity in product restriction gives me such a case of the redass that I am compelled to deny them my business, about which they couldn’t care less, I’m sure.  But importantly, their lawyers, if not their customers, are happy. 

With me, it’s a matter of profound principle.  I am the customer, and I prefer that they cook my burger the way I like it rather than the way they like it.  I believe this is eminently reasonable, insofar as I am the guy paying for it.  If the other Five Guys want to buy it for me, I’ll eat it however they want to cook it. 

When I suffer one of these episodes, the transformation can be best likened to a comic book superhero.  I become a caped crusader on the single focused mission of shredding the complacency or indifference or whatever shrouds the problem and

 I   exposing the idiocy, hypocrisy, or blatant irrationality of what some individual or group has consciously created and nurtured.  I am compelled to confront any source of irritation, some of which are insignificant enough to go unnoticed by many, for which there can be no legitimate excuse.  I’m talking about things that any reasonable person would agree are just WRONG!  Things like:           

·         A restaurant that insists on overcooking your swordfish

·         A bank that charges you interest at 3500% APR to use three dollars of their money for a few days

·         An airline that cancels your flight because they forgot you need pilots to fly the plane

·         A hotel that sells the room you reserved and paid for in advance

·         A medical school that denies your kid admission solely because of her ethnicity

·         A bar that doesn't know how to make beer cold

·         A state’s Department of Revenue that extorts penalties and interest for a week’s delay in payment but sits on your refund check for six months

·         A retail chain that informs you of its “no refund” policy on your receipt, only after you’ve bought the item

·         An IVR system that makes you press “0” forty-one times before acknowledging that you want to talk to a person rather than a machine

When I encounter situations as inexcusable as these, I’m not content with the simple, immediate remedy to my problem.  Rather, I want to drill my way to the core of the screwed-up system and find the person who can fix what’s broken, decisively and with finality. 

I do not know why I have taken up this mantle.  I do know, however, that I didn’t choose to ride through life jousting at what some might see as cultural windmills. I was called to it.  It is as though the windmills have found and chosen me. 

 

 

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things that give me the redass