Monday, December 14, 2009

QBQ! Chapter One: A Picture of Personal Accountability (part one)

The entirely of the two opening pages of this seven-page chapter (don't worry, they get much shorter as the book progresses and John G. Miller loses just as much patience with this nonsense as we do) is wasted on inept, and not coincidentally pointless, scene-setting. "It was a beautiful day in downtown Minneapolis when..." That kind of thing. The point is, our mustachioed hero has stepped into a busy restaurant and demanded (or, as he would have it, asked, politely, "with a smile," for) a Diet Coke®; upon learning that the restaurant lives on the Pepsi side of town, he changes his request to water. Some time passes and then:
Suddenly, there was a blur of activity off to my left, the "wind of enthusiasm" stirred behind me, and then, over my right shoulder stretched "the long arm of service," delivering a twenty-ounce bottle, frosty on the outside, cold on the inside, of--you guessed it--Diet Coke!
First of all, let me assure you that I am not fucking kidding you about that style. That is a direct quote. Much of my objection to the style is I'm sure obvious, but I do want to explicitly point out one thing: normally the construction "____ on the outside, ____ on the inside" is used to describe contrast; if a bottle is frosty on the outside, what else would the contents be but cold? Anyway. I should get to the point, lest I waste more words than Mr. Miller himself.

So what it boils down to is that this waiter, I can only assume in a temporary lapse of judgment, decided that this guy really needs his Diet Coke®, rather than the indistinguishable Diet Pepsi® they serve or the infinitely smarter choice of water that he ended up ordering, and so takes one of his own personal dollars and purchases him a bottle of soda from the "grocery store around the corner." "My first thought was 'Hire this man!'" John G. Miller tells us; my first thought would have been more along the lines of "why the hell would he do that," but OK.

Now we come to some hilarity. Apparently, the waiter did not go to the grocery store himself:
By then I was thinking profound and professional thoughts like "Cool!" But what I said was, "Come on, you've been awfully busy. How did you have time to go get it?" Smiling and seemingly growing taller before my eyes, he said, "I didn't, sir. I sent my manager!"

I couldn't believe it. Was that empowerment or what?
Given the options, Mr. Miller, I'm going with "what." If we have defined "empowerment" down to the level of asking our master to help us better prostrate ourselves before rich fuckers, then we might as well empower ourselves with nooses.

The next part of the chapter (I believe this is the only chapter long enough that it can be considered to have "parts") "take(s) a look at my server's thinking and the choices he made." In order not to make this post nine thousand words long (I wish I could avoid being overly wordy and digressive, but I seem to be incapable), I will cover that part of the chapter, and what I consider a more likely interpretation of the event than the one Mr. Miller presents us with, in the next installment.

QBQ! Table of Contents


JRB said...

The line about empowering ourselves with nooses killed me! I also appreciated your note about "contrast" constructions. "Frosty on the outside" -- I honestly wonder if books like this are computer-generated at some level.

If you get the chance, check out Amazon's John G. Miller page -- in particular, the post "Excuses: They're Everywhere!"

Ethan said...

Hm, I hope your theory about computerized writing is wrong, because the face of John G. Miller is a much more satisfying target for my hatred than some algorithm.

And holy blog! Speaking of faces--that picture on Amazon is mustacheless! I am staggered. And also pissed that I can't figure out a way to add an RSS of that blog to my reader. He updates infrequently enough (every 18 months or so, he's worse than me) that I'll never remember to check it, and it's a goddamn treasure trove.