Ben Nadel
On User Experience (UX) Design, JavaScript, ColdFusion, Node.js, Life, and Love.
I am the chief technical officer at InVision App, Inc - a prototyping and collaboration platform for designers, built by designers. I also rock out in JavaScript and ColdFusion 24x7.
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Ben Nadel at cf.Objective() 2010 (Minneapolis, MN) with:

What Chinese Food Has Taught Me About Life

By Ben Nadel on
Tags: Life

I'm sitting here enjoying some General Tso's Chicken from my local Chinese eatery. Tonight, it tastes especially good because in addition to being delicious, it has taught me a valuable lesson about life. I'm not sure if I can quite articulate the lesson or if I fully understand it yet; but, in order to explain the lesson, I have to share the story.

When I left the office this evening, I called the Chinese restaurant and placed an order for "pickup." It takes me about 25 minutes to walk home, so I knew that it would give them ample time to deep fry my chicken and wok up some nutritious broccoli. I got the restaurant about 23 minutes later (I checked my call log) and the food was not done. This has happened several times before so I just go with it.

The main lady (the one who knows what I want when I walk in) asked my why I didn't call ahead. I stated that I had, in fact, called ahead; at this, she turned around and flipped out at the people behind her. It turns out that one of them had given my order to another patron who came in a few minutes prior.

She (the main lady) immediately started another order, for which I had to wait another 15 minutes. When the chicken was finally done, I handed her $10 and she gave me back 5 cents.

She had accepted full payment for the chicken.

She had accepted full payment for the chicken that I had to wait 15 minutes for in addition to the 23 minute call ahead time I allotted.

Part of me was really irritated for a second. After the lack luster service, I had just assumed that some sort of discount would be implied. And, when full price was accepted, it felt like a total disregard on their behalf for my wasted time.

This might sound dramatic, so please understand that this whole internal reaction took place in one second and two seconds later, I was relaxed and walking out the door with my food.

As I was walking home, I reflected on what had taken place. I thought about what I was paying for. Was I paying for the service at the restaurant? Not really - it's a take-out joint; sure, service is expected to be on the speedy side, but that's not what I expect (which is why I call 25 minutes before I get there). So what AM I paying for?

When all is said and done, I'm paying for the Chicken itself - the product that the restaurant delivers. So, when I hand over $10, that money goes towards the chicken, not the service (sure, they employees are getting paid, but that's not my primary gesture).

When I had this moment of clarity, I realized that any idea about a discount was absurd. Had she offered me a discount, it would have meant that she was devaluing the product that I was buying. This made me feel bad; I felt ashamed that I had even expected a discount - to have not paid full price would mean that I would not have carried out an exchange of equal value. I would not have been bartering money for goods - I would have been looting.

I'd never thought about exchanges in quite this light before, so the moment of insight came as a bit of a shock. I'm not sure how to articulate the exact nature of the lesson learned; but, what I can say is that I have to see things in terms of value produced and no so much the context in which that value was delivered. And, I think this goes both ways - I have to honor the value that other's provide and I have to assume that others will appreciate the value that I provide.

Mmmmm, tasty philosophy.

Tweet This Deep thoughts by @BenNadel - What Chinese Food Has Taught Me About Life Thanks my man — you rock the party that rocks the body!


Reader Comments

I think you're missing something crucial here, though. Not only are you paying for chicken (quality), but you are also paying for the service. Maybe not table service, but service nonetheless -- the implied service contract is that when you place an order you will only have a reasonable wait.

If the quality of the food declined you wouldn't feel in any way bad about reducing or eliminating your patronage of that restaurant, right? So if the quality of the service declines how is that different?

Where do you draw the line? If the order takes longer and longer each time, or if the number of mistakes continues to increase, when do you start going to a different restaurant?

So, in effect, her offering you a discount can be seen as her paying you for your time -- an acknowledgement of their breach of the implied service contract.

I'm not saying that you should expect a discount, but as someone who worked in the restaurant industry for years I can categorically say that you should always discount for mistakes like that. The $5 lost now is made up in 2 more orders -- a small price to pay to offset the chance of never getting another order from a loyal patron.

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I can kind of see where you're going with this, but I generally look at it this way. The chicken they sold you did not cost them $10. You are paying extra for them to provide the service of preparing it for you. I, like you, probably wouldn't have demanded a discount; however, if I continue to receive bad service I stop going there all together. As a business it would generally be helpful to offer a sign of good faith on their part in the form of a discount on some of the "service charge" from the bill.

If you are going to run a business you need to be willing to show your customers that if you screw up you're willing to fix it and do right by the customer, and they will generally be more loyal and return in the future. Though it may not be as true as it used to be: The customer is always right.

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@Ben,

Take two developers who produce the same results; one does the job in 1 week, the other takes 2 weeks.

If the job was agreed to be completed in 1 week, the 2 week developer is now out of a job regardless of the end result.

Accordingly, you called ahead for your order and an implied agreement existed to produce your chicken by the time you arrived.

As such, you are indeed paying for both the product and delivery of the product in an agreed time frame. Hence, you are in fact also paying for service along with the product.

However you look at it, the sad fact remains that customer service has pretty much gone to hell in today's marketplace anyway and they should have offered you a discount, free soda or some other token gesture to show recognition that YOUR time is also worth something of value as well.

Unless of course they have a regional monopoly on General chicken in which case your are SOL and should be thankful you got any chicken at all.

LMAO.

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Dayum. Apparently several of us are in need of a life that spans beyond Ben's eating habits and ponderings.

I blame it on those stupid fortune cookies and the lies they spew.

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@Todd - you gave me a good laugh with your comment about some of *us* needing a life. Guess I'm in the same boat. ;)

@all - one thing that I thought about after Todd mentioning a "regional monopoly" is that some places are so good (I mean incredible, mouth-watering, one-of-a-kind goodness) that service doesn't even matter to me. Veggie Heaven and Mr. Natural in Austin, TX and there's one Chinese food place in the centre of The Hague, NL that come to mind. Even when service wasn't very good, I've never considered that I actually wouldn't want to come back.

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You could have bought raw chicken and cooked it yourself but you didn't, either because you can't, or you can't be bothered. Hence you are paying for the convenience of them cooking the chicken as well as the chicken itself.

I'd not have paid. Period. I've had several food deliveries take an hour and a half instead of the quoted 40 minutes and I just refused to pay when the delivery driver arrived. I never use them again afterwards either, as they've let me down and wasted my time.

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I don't think you should be ashamed by thinking you deserved a discount. In a way, they made you "pay extra" by making you wait the extra 15 minutes it took them to get you your order (due to their screw up). Your time is worth something too, you know.
It's worth it for merchants (or companies) to give discounts to their customers for situations like this. It shows the customer that they value their time and promotes customer loyalty, which is better for the company's bottom line in the long run.

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@Rick,

Yes, if the quality of the chicken went down, I certainly would not stay there. But, their chicken is so darn good that even after they have messed up my order a total of 3 times now, I continue to go back. Like I said, getting the chicken is my primary gesture, the service quality is secondary.

Perhaps my conclusion that her offering me a discount would have been ill advised is a bit misguided. As you say, the loss at the moment is paid for easily with long term patronage. I think perhaps what was I was reacting too most strongly was the personal expectation of some discount. As you say, no discount *should* be expected, but if one is offered, it's a strategy on their part.

@Jsatt,

Yes, if the service continued to be bad, I would not have continued to go there. But, most of the time, the food is ready by the time I get there.

I guess, the real thing to take away for me was that life has unexpected things happen from time to time and those things should not devalue what is produced.

@Todd,

Ha ha, it's funny you say that cause to be honest, I don't even really know if there are any other Chinese food places closer. I know that there is a better, healthier place two blocks out of my way... but that seems too far after I've been walking 25 minutes already :)

But, you raise a very good scenario as I think being a Developer was why this really affected me. We ARE producers of value. We get paid to create products through our problem solving and knowledge. Now, I agree that if a project was agreed to take one week and ended up taking 2, then the 2-week developer could be or should be out of a job.

However, I think the concept of continued patronage and the value of the product created are two separate lines of thought. Let's say I hired a guy to do a week of work and it took him two weeks. I might never hire him again. But, the work he produced still has the same value which needs to be compensated. His ability to produce it in a given time frame influences the rehireability, but it does not influence the value of the product he delivers.

@Aaron,

Exactly where my mind was at - their chicken is just so good .... when it finally gets to me :)

@George,

I hate when that happens. I've ordered from a few lunch places like that! Nothing more frustrating that waiting for lunch deliveries.

@Will,

I don't even get fortune cookies from this place :(

@Tony,

I agree that my time is worth money (good money I hope :)). However, I don't think that should be their primary concern, just as my primary concern is not over the payment of their employees. My primary concern was getting that chicken. Their primary concern was making me that chicken.

Now, I am not trying to belittle my time; heck, my loss of time was part of the reason I got so steamed initially. All I am saying is that the context of the delivery did not and should not detract from the value of the product.

Any discount offered would have been a strategic move on their part, but certainly nothing to be expected.

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There are those exceptional cases where the quality of the product is such that you're willing to overlook supbar customer service. I guess from what you say, that's the case here. You like their chicken so much that you don't care about their crappy customer service.
It's obvious that your time isn't a primary concern of theirs, but I disagree with you that it SHOULDN'T be a primary concern of theirs. Every self-respecting business that deals with customers SHOULD place their patrons' time (and overall customer service) as a primary concern (in fact, it should be the #1 concern in my book).

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Ben,

If there was no cost to the restaurant in screwing up the order, then there was no incentive for them to improve.

Instead if they had given you a $5 discount the owner could have had a teachable moment with their employees. She could have warned them, if you screw up again the $5 bucks is coming out of your pocket.

Which way would result in fewer mistakes in the future?

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Lets point out something that may change your life changing event. General Tso's is not even a real Chinese dish. You will not find it in China, unless there is a American Chinese restaurant there, which there may be, I haven't seen one. Its a large country, so perhaps there is a American Chinese shop somewhere there. So all this over a fake dish...hehe.

DK

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I think the most important leason learned here, is Ben didn't a single inconvient experience ruin anything for him.

Too often I see people spend too much time being irritated about things that don't really matter--like not having their chicken ready on time.

In the grand scheme of things, this was a very minor inconvience. Mistakes happen. You can either let them get to you, or just roll with them.

How much we enjoy life depends on how we handle the little things like this.

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Ben,

You should have gone to Ginger House! Serves you right for not being loyal! Also, this probably would never have happened had you got Chicken and Broccoli like normal!

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Are y'all not acquainted with capitalism? If the IRS and the local board of health have the appropriate access to their practices, and they stay in business, they ain't gotta do nothin'.

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Ben,
If you are enjoying chicken it is worth waiting. Things happen always. if you stuck with details life becomes painful. enjoy life without questioning... you are smart person and that is what you did on way to your home.

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@Tony,

While my gut reaction might be to agree that a business owner's primary concern is the customer service, when I probe deeper, I cannot agree. In this case, I am not paying for them to delivery something at a given time (in fact, there was no explicit time agreement to begin with). What I'm paying them for is the chicken itself. In fact, I want the chicken to be their primary concern as well because that will help to guarantee that the chicken the give me is worth the best it can be. If they skimped on the chicken to deliver on time, then I am losing out in a bigger way than the extra wait.

Now, over the long term, sub par customer service may outweigh the quality of the product. But, in the given moment, a delay in time should not devalue the product being delivered.

@Rick,

The incentive to improve is the long terms patronage. How they get that patronage can happen in different way. On one hand, it can have the fastest service in town. On the other hand, maybe they can provide the best product in town. Or maybe there is a meeting somewhere in the middle. That strategy is up to them and I should hope that any self respecting business man *wants* to to the best job possible.

My point is no much about their ability to keep me as patron of the long period; in fact, my track record with them has already established that at as a precedence. My point is the given moment of delayed delivery cannot and should not devalue the product they were delivering. The two are unrelated.

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Ben,

Let's dismiss the chicken analogy and talk about real world projects. :)

I disagree with your statement that "the delay in time should not devalue the product being delivered". In fact, it should have a MEASURABLE devaluation. On many projects, and especially government projects, there is a penalty that is assessed for every day that a project is late. This is true for development projects, construction projects, engineering projects, etc. And that penalty is there for good reason - being late with the product directly impacts the amount of *potential* value a product can generate by reducing the amount of time that it has to produce value.

This should not be understated - the time to market for a product is every bit as important as the functionality of the product when determining value. Let's say you are developing a website for me where I will sell subscriptions to something. Let's say you're a week late - every day that you are late with delivering the project costs me potential revenues because customers cannot sign up to buy subscriptions during that time period. That therefore devalues the project from my standpoint - I have lost a full week's worth of potential revenue. I cannot get that week back - ever.

Now that's only a week - what if you're a month late? A year? At some point I'm going to tell you to go pound sand because the cost benefit of paying you for the work has been eaten up by the delay.

I think the problem is that you perceive a product as having a static value, regardless of timing. But this isn't the case - the true value of a product is based on the periodic value times the amount of time it is availble.

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Although some Chinese restaurants would charge you extra for the containers, pickup is already 'discounted' because you're not paying the 10-15% service tips if you eat in. :)

However, if their service is bad, try another one.

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@Roland,

The value of a product it self, and the value of the way in which you leverage after sale are different conversation. Imagine that I bought the chicken for $10, but then I turned around and dropped it accidentally on the floor. From my point of view, the "comedic value" of that moment - my use of the product - may have been a million dollar moment in memories. But, just because I leveraged the product in a highly valuable does NOT mean that the person who created the product has a right to charge me the equivalent price (a million dollars for chicken).

Likewise, if I bought chicken for $10 and then turned around and re-sold it for $5, it doesn't mean that I have the right to ask the person who produced the chicken for $5 dollars back since I was not able to leverage it to its fullest amount.

As you can see, the value of a product, and the value gathered from leveraging that product are two different things.

So let's look at your subscription scenario. Imagine someone was building you a subscription ecommerce site but was a month late on the delivery - why don't you just turn around an NOT pay for it - cancel the transaction? Tell them that they did not hold up their end of the bargain and void the relationship?

It seems that this would be the logical step as you feel that the product has lost it's value.

But, I think we all know what really happens - you suck it up, go the month, then pay for the product and start using. And, why do you/we do this? Because the product is still worth what we thought it was going to be worth before we commissioned it. If it wasn't we wouldn't buy it.

The ability to then take the subscription system and earn money is a different matter. What happens if the month delay afforded you some huge insight that allowed you to make EVEN more money than you would have hoped? At that point, would you have to go back to the vendor and pay them more as the delay created more long term value?

No - that would be crazy pills since the vendor who created the product is not responsible for the long term use of the product in either the positive or negative direction.

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@Ben

"But, I think we all know what really happens - you suck it up, go the month, then pay for the product and start using. And, why do you/we do this? Because the product is still worth what we thought it was going to be worth before we commissioned it. If it wasn't we wouldn't buy it."

You're correct in that the value (potential or otherwise) doesn't change, but Roland's point still stands. The product might be able to make you £1k/month, or save you £1k/month. If you have a contractual agreement saying that the product will be delivered on a certain date and it doesn't, you are losing out on money gained or saved because you didn't have the product when you were supposed to.

The flip-side is that if the vendor finishes your product early, should they refund you some of the bill? It's happened before!

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"But, I think we all know what really happens - you suck it up, go the month, then pay for the product and start using. And, why do you/we do this? Because the product is still worth what we thought it was going to be worth before we commissioned it. If it wasn't we wouldn't buy it. "

Actually, you shouldn't suck it up, and it isn't worth the same. As I mentioned, this is exaclty why late delivery penalties exist in contracts - and this is not some theoretical agrument - these exist more frequently than you realize. My company is bound by them all the time - if we're late, we can't charge as much. In fact, under certain situations, we may be forced to remit 100% of the fee.

This is no different than an SLA - in fact, it is just another form of an SLA. SLAs are designed to place penalties on a service provider for not delivering services as expected. That includes service outtages AND it includes late delivery of products and services. And all of these exist because our product is in fact less valuable to them if it is not available to them, whether due to delivery time or ongoing service reliability. And so the solution in these cases is to make the service provider make up for the loss of revenue.

----------

Regarding your $10 chicken sold for $5. That's a different discussion entirely. You bought the chicken with a perceived value of $10, but sold it for $5. But you took *delivery* of the chicken on time. The person who sold it to you has no responsiblity for the market conditions which lead to your loss of value. This is different than if they were late in delivering the chicken, and then you lost a sale because of it.

But more to the point - you state that "the value of a product, and the value gathered from leveraging that product are two different things", which is incorrect. The value of the product *IS* the value gathered from leveraging it. If you can't leverage the product, then it has no value. This is something that has been proven over and over again. Take a look at this article. It's a concise explaination of value curves and the cost of delay.

http://gustafbrandberg.com/2007/02/17/five-things-to-remember-when-calculating-the-cost-of-delay/

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Regarding the delay affording insight that earns money - That insight would have come regardless of the delay. The insight is based on time and market conditions, not on the delivery date of the product. It's an independent variable with no bearing on the delivery of the product.

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@Roland,

Yes, there exist contracts where time is built directly into the contracts in a hard way (not in a rough estimate way) and there are contracts where penalties are paid. But, those are not the kind of contracts that I would want to work under. Nor are those the kind of people that I would want to work for.

The thought of having to remit 100% of the fee is such a disgusting thought, I can't even consider it. I suppose if you want to work for that kind of a company, then you have abide by their laws.

"The value of the product *IS* the value gathered from leveraging it."....

If this were true, then wouldn't it have to go in both directions? How can this be true if it can only benefit one of the parties involved while hurting the other one?

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Why do people consist on comparing a $10 chinese order to a computer project that's thousands of dollars?

Expectations on everything in life does not need to be the same.

My expectation for service for a $10 meal is considerable different than my expectations for a $50 or $100 meal. You better believe I expect more when I'm paying more.

So to compare a $10 meal to a computer project is a bit distorted

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My dreamboat (sighhhhh!!!)-

What in the world where you doing eating general tso's chicken so late at night anyway??? Although that happens to be one of my favorite Chinese dishes, OMG! we have something in common!!!! ;-) nonetheless, you should be careful with what you eat especially late at night. Just thinking of your health my dreamboat! I hope you don't mind :-)

Now, knowing the chinese restaurants in NYC the way that I do, it doesn't surprise me the least bit that you didn't get a discount. Honestly dreamboat! you thought about getting a discount on 10bucks??? come on! But, I know what you mean it isn't the money, I hope, it's the principle.

To the (main lady's) defense, I think that her yelling at the employees was her way of showing you good customer service, (I know yelling is not right) but, I don't really think in those restaurants we pay for service and everyone who gets food at a NYC neighborhood chinese restaurant knows that. Anyhow, her yelling at them was her way of showing you (the customer) good customer service (I yelled at my employees to her = I just yelled at them I hope your happy (to customer). Especially when we all know that yelling at employees in front of a customer is a no no. In addition, I am sure that although they don't pay 10dollars for chicken they are getting killed with rent, therefore, she probably can't really afford to go around giving everyone discounts every time her employees screw up an order. I'm surprised that we can still get tasty $10 food although not very healthy :-), why with their prices how in the hell do they even stay in business???

Where I am going with this is that I feel that if the end result (tasty chicken) is what you got, then you're reflection to the situation was as always, wonderful! Sighhh. And, I always brush off small stuff because we live stressful lives as it is, so who needs to get all upset over some late chicken delivery.

My dreamboat, I sure hope that people appreciate the value of what you provide because it seems to me that you honor the value of what others provide to you.

My dreamboat sighhhh!!! Such a good writer! Thank you for sharing with us your stories.

@Todd
Yeah I also need to get a life! But, it's so darn hard :-) when this man my dreamboat has so much insight and philosophy to offer
:-)

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@Dan - I think it was expanded because Ben alluded to the fact that he was using the chicken incident as an allegory for providing value :) So you're absolutely right, the same rules do not apply. In fact - I would react exactly like Ben did in the face of Chinese takeout. I'm just exploring the larger issue with people who work in environments similar to my own. :)

@Ben -

Remitting the fee is the same thing as not getting paid. If I had contracted you to deliver a time-sensitive project for me in 2 weeks and it took you 2 months, would you still expect me to pay you for it?

The penalties are basically a way of saying "put your money where your mouth is". If you're confident that you can deliver on time, then you shouldn't really have any aversion to accepting a contract with that type of clause. And project estimates should be built in such a way that there is a realistic buffer to allow for small slippages or delays.

This doesn't mean that the people putting this kind of stuff are being overly cruel - it's just business. It's saying *up front* that there is a very real devaluation of the product you're delivering based upon your delivery date. It's saying that things are time-sensitive, and if you can't manage to deliver in the time that you said you would deliver in, then we wouldn't have offered to pay you as much as we did. And this is an important point. The contract fee was negotiated based on a delivery date. If that delivery date changes, then why shouldn't the fee? Why should you benefit from having more time, while we are penalized by a late delivery?

If anything, I think it's more honest. When you say that you wouldn't work for that "kind" of company, I think it characterizes the practice in an unfairly negative fashion. This type of provision states unambiguously, up front that we expect you to deliver the service that you said you would. And if you can't that's fine, but don't expect to get paid as much.

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"If this were true, then wouldn't it have to go in both directions? How can this be true if it can only benefit one of the parties involved while hurting the other one?"

There's no reason it can't go in both directions. That's why people negotiate for things like stock options, partnership rights, or residuals. Nothing says that you have to only accept cash for your work - if you want the upside potential, then you have to take the downside too. This could mean you do the work for equity instead of for money. It could mean profit sharing . . . contracts don't just have to be about a one-time exchange of money.

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For the record - when we contract out work, we do *not* put late delivery provisions in the agreements because we know our vendors and have a reasonable expectation of their quality of work. However - when we are contracted, we are always bound by these types of provisions. And I don't mind it at all. To date, we have yet to be called out for not delivering what we said we would (9 years, knock on wood!). It keeps us honest and ensures that we have an accurate estimation mechanism.

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@Roland,

Right, when the contract explicitly deals with time, that is a different matter. In that case, the time agreement is part of the value that is being delivered. I personally have not had to deal with contracts like that, so I have no experience in that matter. I did one time almost get into a contract that did have time constraints and penalties and some really crazy things that served punish my company - we did not end up working with this person. Not so much because we felt we couldn't deliver - more so because the person we would be working with just didn't seem to share my companies values.

That said, in the "chicken incident" there was no formally agreed on time and no hard-fast expectation, so the game is a bit different.

But, just to go back up a level to what Secret Admirer is saying, the original intent of the revelation was not to deal with the money, but really the principle of the matter; and more specifically, I think it's about thinking "right" towards people and the products that they create.

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"But, just to go back up a level to what Secret Admirer is saying, the original intent of the revelation was not to deal with the money, but really the principle of the matter; and more specifically, I think it's about thinking "right" towards people and the products that they create."

And in that, I think we can both agree :) I may sound harsh based on my rant above, but I think that you're absolutely correct that the ultimate aim of any interaction, be it chicken or software-based should be for both sides to do the right thing and to be good people.

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I think Ben is merely observing something from what we know from the proverb about not being able to have our cake and eating, too. He's talking about paying for the "experience" of enjoying the cake, not the "keeping score" aspect of owning it.

He's talking about how if we keep score in life too scrupulously, we find ourselves confusing the menu for the meal, and starving from eating dollar bills. From Jung to modern art, taking inventory of the contrasting qualities of our experience and our reason was the underlying theme of the 20th century. It's the post-modern of the post-industrial age.

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@Ben,

No more chicken for you.

@ALL -

We need to post this same question in a .NET blog to see how they'd solve the problem better than us.

Actually, it's just a very clever troll.

And, yes, I'm only in this for the Kinky points beotches.

LMAO.

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I'm not a salesman, but I *have* taken sales and marketing courses in order to learn client requirements and needs, and one of the things that you immediately are taught (and apparently some never remember :-( ) is that for every ONE person that complains, you have already lost NINE other customers who don't bother to complain.

The restaurant should have given you a discount in order to ensure your satisfaction and return patronage. Otherwise they have risked losing you -- and nine others -- as future customers through word of mouth.

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OMG! are you developers all this complicated lol! I love it! I thought this post was about chinese take out! you are all just way to cute, I want to admire you all but can't :-( sorry I can only admire my dreamboat!

@Todd

You go on this site for the kinky points I go on this site for the browny points! ;-)

I hope that @Ben honors the value :-) that we provide = making kinky solutions one badass site!

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<blockquote>The restaurant should have given you a discount in order to ensure your satisfaction and return patronage. Otherwise they [would] have risked losing you -- and nine others -- as future customers through word of mouth.</blockquote>

Dude, these people swam the Pacific Ocean with daggers in their teeth and a kid under each arm to open a restaurant here. What good would your instructions on security have served getting them where they've been to where they are now? Look at the time y'all are devoting to vent your disgust. Are any of us really invulnerable enough to sneer?

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<blockquote back at you>Dude, these people swam the Pacific Ocean with daggers in their teeth and a kid under each arm to open a restaurant here. What good would your instructions on security have served getting them where they've been to where they are now? Look at the time y'all are devoting to vent your disgust. Are any of us really invulnerable enough to sneer?</blockquote>

That's funny Mike. Oops, I mean, duuuude. You start off with an ethnic slur, and then pop off with a holier than thou line.

Common sense is all it comes down to. And I'm referring to giving the discount, not you.

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Are you all seriously still thinking about a discount???? OMG it was 10bucks!

The women yelled at the employess = humiliating them in front of customers.
My dreamboat got his tasty chicken= Happy tummy!

Get over the $10bucks people! It's only money. Trust me, no one is going to stop going to the chinese corner restaurant. CHEAP GOOD FOOD! bad for you, but yummy nonetheless! and, all New Yorker's are pretty much used to the loud yelling between the employees/employer in chinese and most of the time not the cleanest places in the world wtf! why again do we go there???? OH Yeah! cheap yummy greesy unhealthy food! hahaha...

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<blockquote>That's funny Mike. Oops, I mean, duuuude. You start off with an ethnic slur, and then pop off with a holier than thou line.</blockquote>

I'm not portraying them as damaged. Calling what I said an ethnic slur seems to be self-serving on your part.

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<blockquote>

The restaurant should have given you a discount in order to ensure your satisfaction and return patronage. Otherwise they [would] have risked losing you -- and nine others -- as future customers through word of mouth....

Common sense is all it comes down to. And I'm referring to giving the discount, not you.

</blockquote>

Isn't it funny how urgent implementing the discount is for the Chinese restaurant, but how casual it is for you to insist on it?

It's funny how intuitive your selective application of principle is. It's funny how insisting others think through your common sense is the most natural thing in the world. If it's *your* common sense that has to be navigated.

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There is something disturbing in this story that you all seem to have overlooked. Where is the chicken that the guy who got Ben's chicken ordered?
chicken1 = new ChickenBroccoli(); // ben
chicken2 = new ChickenBroccoli(); // other guy
otherGuy.pickup(chicken1);
try
ben.pickup(chicken1);
catch
if(chicken1 == null)
chicken3 = new ChickenBroccoli(); // new chicken for Ben
...
...
At shop.close() chicken2 is handled by the garbage collector. Hopefully! But what if there is a nutrition leaking in the system? Another Another Guy comes in and order ChickenMushrooms and suddenly parts from chicken2 is leaking into chicken156 and will cause curious bugs some hours later in the Another Another Guy's digestion system?

I once had lunch at a very popular Fuccacheria (sp?) and order two slices, one salami and one salmon.
"We call it out when it's ready"
"Ok", I said, waiting for something more.
"Do I get a number, or do you want my name", I continued as the guy was already busy taking another order.
"No"
"Ehhum.... so what do you call?", I asked, lokking around me at the 50-60 people eating and waiting.
"Two"
"Two?"
"Yes, you ordered two slices"
I got my food. The ones that I ordered. I heard them call out "2,1,3,3,5,1" before my "2" (I figured the first two could not possibly be for me) and noticed how a wave of people went closer to the counter, or stood up to get a view, for each call.

For sure, it worked. But a decent naming convention and object assignment would have made system much more stable.

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It still would have been good PR for them if they had given you a coupon for something off of your next order. Especially since you are a regular.

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I think your next Kinky Solutions Project should be CF_General_Tsos_Chicken.

I have no idea what the custom tag would do (maybe a simple one like figuring out the Chinese zodiac character based on a date/ or scour the net for location based info/Chinese food restaurant in the area/ and combine it with Kinky Calendar and the Twitter app that you are eating General Tso's/etc.)

Joking about the monopoly on General Tso's can apply in a small town. We've got 3 Chinese places - 1) outrageously expensive 2) very expensive 3) decent price - #2 has the best General Tso's - #3's unfortunately sucks.

Anyway - nice to see other CF programmers love General Tso's too!

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I do not agree with the premise that the service is not an integral part of the value of the product (a fancier, faster serving restaurant in the right location can charge more for the exact same product), but since Ben seems to maintain that it is the chicken alone that matters, I will argue his statement from that perspective.

1) If we take into account the quality of the chicken and vegetables used to make the dish, and we agree that fresh meat and vegetation is worth more than old decaying meat, then Ben's wait decreased the quality of the product being served. We can also reasonably agree that raw meat has a higher likelihood of decaying and in fact becoming infected with dangerous bacteria. It's not a matter of the extra 15 minute wait, but rather the 23 minute delay to protect the chicken from becoming putrid, dangerous, and in effect less valuable. It might be argued that the prolonged marinade adds taste, but I think the cost of the quality of the meat exceeds that of the sauce.

2) Biologically speaking, can we truly say that the timing of the consumption of the product does not influence the taste. Ben says that he is paying for the chicken itself, but I think he means he is paying for the taste of the chicken and the enjoyment he experiences from eating it. The body runs via a complex combination of electrochemical reactions. The mediators which are released influence the way our body interprets the stimuli from the environment...in this case the chicken. As Ben approached the restaurant and the time he thought he would receive and be able to enjoy the chicken, his body began the digestive process. This process was disrupted and the chemical balance was disturbed. If this causes the chicken to be less enjoyable, then can't we say that the product is less valuable than it would have been had it been given to him 15 minutes earlier.

3) Expectations influence the interpretation of the experience. For example, if you think you are leaving work at 6pm and you leave at 7pm, that day sucks. If however, you think that you are leaving work at 8pm and you leave at 7pm, that day is awesome. Either way, the product, i.e. the time you leave work, is the same, but the experience is very different. Although the chicken dish was relatively similar to what Ben would have received 15 minutes earlier, the experience of the meal, the taste of the chicken, was influenced poorly and hence the product was worth less.

4) Health. Ben's sympathetic nervous system was stimulated several times during the experience; the late chicken, the woman yelling at the employees, the anger over not getting a discount. This resulted in temporarily increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, and increased release of endogenous steroids and inflammatory mediators. The delayed product in essence has shortened his life, or otherwise said, aged him. With age comes a decrease in the sensitivity of receptors and efficiency of nerve conduction. This would result in a decreased sensation of the taste of the chicken effectively decreasing the value of the product.

Forget the value of the chicken, I am just happy that my brother survived the experience!

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@Erik,

I've never been more nervous to eat chicken in my life! :D

It's nice to get the mental perspective in this case - I don't believe anyone else took my health into account (thanks for caring guys!).

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One other aspect that I think was neglected in the above discussion, although I must admit implied, is that the lesson Ben took from this experience seems more consistent with the expected thought of a person living in a socialist country instead of a capitalist one.

How would Ayn Rand have responded to your post?

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@Erik,

Ayn Rand despised incompetence. Her characters reflect this. But, I also think that her idealized characters are beyond taking anything personally. In a pivitol moment in the Fountain Head, Ellsworth Toohey asks Howard Roark what he really thinks of him (Ellsworth being someone who actively tried to destroy Roark). To this, Roark replies,

"But, I don't think of you."

I think her characters believed so strongly in their own ideas that the world they lived in was just a symptom of context... something that happened by chance to exist in parallel.

So, how would she react? I think she might feel the whole thing was silly to even devote any time to?

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@Ben

Re:
I don't believe anyone else took my health into account (thanks for caring guys!).

I believe someone else did care. But, I am only the secret admirer so I guess I don't count :-(

My dreamboat (sighhhhh!!!)-

What in the world where you doing eating general tso's chicken so late at night anyway??? Although that happens to be one of my favorite Chinese dishes, OMG! we have something in common!!!! ;-) nonetheless, you should be careful with what you eat especially late at night. Just thinking of your health my dreamboat! I hope you don't mind :-)

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<blockquote>As Ben approached the restaurant and the time he thought he would receive and be able to enjoy the chicken, his body began the digestive process. This process was disrupted and the chemical balance was disturbed. If this causes the chicken to be less enjoyable, then can't we say that the product is less valuable than it would have been had it been given to him 15 minutes earlier.</blockquote>

Has Ben's need for the chicken not increased? Can't the value of the chicken then be affected by that?

Has the last 6 months not made it obvious that Ayn Rand's philosophy itself nurtures mediocrity? Objectivism/Libertarianism is a palette with one color -- deregulation. Are those who benefited most from the massive deregulation of the last decade not now holding their hands out for government bailout? Who fidelity to reality does what she thought have?

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@Mike Leung,

You are forcing me to take sides with Ben. The discussion is not about the "need" to have the chicken but rather the product itself which in my argument is the meal. This includes the chicken, the taste, and the level of satisfaction he receives from the experience. Harold and Kumar would agree that the wait made the meal all that much better, but they were stoned and so reality and time were distorted. We can not do that here because the ill effects of time are at the heart of my argument. They also use ingredients which are assumed not to be fresh which also changes the parameters.

As for your statements regarding Ayn Rand, this has been a great pet peeve of mine this year. She spoke of producers and contributers. They prophessed deregulation as a means against those that took advantage of the system and stole. The people you speak of particularly piss me off because they see themselves as the producers when in fact they do not contribute knowledge, goods, or any tangible items. They are the looters. Do not be fooled by their sheep's clothing.

I don't understand your last statement.

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Erik,

1. My understanding is that there is no value where there is no demand. Pretty much by definition.

2. So what producers or contributors benefited from the massive deregulation of the last decade?

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Mike,
I am sorry for my ignorance, but I am not exactly clear why you made statement 1.
As for statement 2, correct, and we are now in a recession.

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My statement 1 is relevant to your comment: 'The discussion is not about the "need" to have the chicken but rather the product itself which in my argument is the meal.' You seem to be talking about establishing value independent of demand. Your attempt to do so has to be reconciled with the definition of value if you want it to be taken sincerely.

<blockquote>

Me: 2. So what producers or contributors benefited from the massive deregulation of the last decade?

Erik: As for statement 2, correct, and we are now in a recession.

</blockquote>

My statement 2 is a question, for which "correct" and "we are now in a recession" seem to be nonsensical answers. Are you saying you're doing well? Well, you're not doing well enough to avoid replying affirmatively to a request for examples. How would Ayn Rand feel about that?

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