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

You never know what your Lyft driver will be like.

So there I was getting into Jeremy's car in downtown Denver and wondering what he'd have to say.

Why did he drive for Lyft rather than Uber, I asked.

"Because Lyft still cares about people," he replied. "Uber's all about the money. They're just robots."

Now robots are a subject that pains my heart daily. I said that, yes, Uber would surely be happy to get rid of its drivers soon, once it perfects the self-driving car thing.

"You know, yesterday I went to McDonald's," enthused Jeremy in what felt like a non-sequitur, but turned out not to be.

"They had these touchscreens," he said. "Man, it was crazy."

"Crazy?" I asked.

"Yeah, there was only one cashier behind the counter," he said. "The rest was these screens."

"What did you order?" I wondered.

"Just a caramel frapp," he said. "I don't do the rest of it."

This was a man of considerable taste and restraint. Though one small Frappé Caramel enjoys 440 calories.

"So how was ordering by machine?"

"Great!" he said.

Wait, so a minute ago we were just lamenting Uber getting rid of people and embracing technology and here was Jeremy lovin' it at Ronald's house in Aurora, Colorado because there were no people around?

"Why was it great? Was it quicker?"

No, he said.

His explanation floored me.

"I didn't have to repeat myself to anyone," he said.

He said that every time he orders with a human, either they don't hear him or they try to upsell him. The machine just took his order and that was that.

Yes, this is just one human being. His logic, though, was both troubling and quite brilliant.

The machine obviated the possibility of what he considered bad salesmanship.

My own interactions with some machines -- such as British Airways' intransigent, painfully execrable bag-drop monstrosities at London's Heathrow Airport -- made me weep for humanity.

But here was this extremely bright future real-estate investor insisting that the one thing McDonald's machine had solved was the human communication problem.

Then I told him about McDonald's new vending machines, which dispense burgers with just a few pushes of a button.

"What?" said Jeremy. "I'm not doing that."

Published on: Jun 28, 2017
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