Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

Big companies often have to deal with competing pressures.

The CFO might want one direction. The customers might want the opposite.

Such tensions aren't limited to airlines, of course.

For example, every company is now under scrutiny for how it treats -- or mistreats -- the environment.

Fast-food chains are under extremely enthusiastic pressure, given how much they sell and how much packaging they emit into the world.

In the U.K., it began to replace its plastic straws with paper ones.

Many applauded. 

And then some consumer began to see the downside. 

Paper straws were, once upon a time, the reason why food companies turned to plastic. 

And so some McDonald's customers have begun to express their displeasure. In displeasure's ugly kingdom, Twitter.

It's reached the point where there's now a petition that has, at the time of writing, been endorsed by 41,631 people.

The specific complaints make for edifying reading. Said one pained whiner: 

Because the new paper straws get soggy in your mouth.

Mused another: 

Them paper straws are a good idea to save the wildlife but they are horrible to drink out of the [sic] dissolve in your drink after a few minutes probably the worst thing that has ever been made.

The worst thing that has ever been made. Worse than burgers made from frozen beef?

And who could not be moved by the graphic nature of another pained customer: 

Literally struggled to drink my milkshake as the straw went soggy.

Some might think that a more important literal struggle was to save the world from plastic pollution.

Oh, but however much people might brandish their altruistic credentials, we're all a selfish lot, aren't we?

The phasing out of plastic straws in the U.K. began last September. The manufacturers insist that the new paper straws can survive at least 30 minutes to an hour in liquid. 

Yes, just like your iPhone.

There is, though, a serious lesson here. 

Once you decide on your company's higher priorities, stick to them.

Just because some customers complain, it doesn't mean you should immediately react by going back in time.

Indeed, so far, McDonald's insists it's "doing the right thing."

Doing the right thing doesn't always come with the right reaction. Especially from those who don't quite appreciate the first-worldiness of their problems.

It seems clear that paper-straw makers will, over time, improve the quality of their products. 

I sense it's fairly clear, too, that those against plastic straws are in the ascendance.

It's not just that the likes of Starbucks have declared they will oust plastic straws by 2020

You see, on the same site where the huffy anti-paper straw petition resides, there's another one, entitled "Make plastic drink straws obsolete in cinemas."

It has 216,222 signatures.

Published on: Apr 28, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.