Saturday, July 20, 2013

In Which I Confess to a Guilty Pleasure

I've done a lot of mean things in a long life but I have never yet watched one of those TV shows where you get to invade some guy's privacy while he finds out whether he is the Father of the Baby (wonder if they have booked Prince William?).  Nor, now that I think of it, none of the other of those countless orgies of public humiliation where people get cut. chopped, slashed, fired, demoted where someone puts his/er most intimate moment under the glare of the white lights for us all to enjoy.

Until now, but I blame the gym.  The Precore bikes are arrayed across from a ban of TV screens and the Food Channel is the best of a bad lot.  I admit I am still beguiled by the Contessa, reigning champ of the cotton-underwear division and even little Rachel Ray, mistress of the art of being sexually unthreatening to a geezer such as myself.

But my shameful weakness is--wait for it, folks--Restaurant Impossible, where our protagonist shows poor duffers how to run their business.  Oh, I know, I know, he is a downmarket superhero,some kind of cross between Mr. Clean and the Man from Glad.  The catch is that he's really pretty good.  You can tell in the moment that most of these places are management train wrecks.  And his advice--well, I'm not the expert now, am I?  But most of his advice seems like sound good sense.  For this, they shed a tear.

But that's the kicker, isn't it?  Most of it is sound good sense, in the perspective but people really shouldn't have to be told this stuff, should they?  Yeh, right most people aren't there yet.  Rather, I think what we're seeing here is the reasons why restaurants have such a legendary failure rate: everybody eats, so everybody thinks they can cook, and everybody thinks they can run a restaurant.  Only the first three of those propositions is unequivocal.

There's also the matter of the cycle of failure.  With the ordinary retail store, there's just a pileup of bad inventory, or no inventory at all.  With a restaurant, it's cockroaches and spoilage.

So in this context, Mr. Clean looks, well, clean.   But I recall one more anecdote, this from my friend Ignota who works with small business all the time. I said--you're good at this, you ought to set yourself up as a straightener-outer, to get things organized and back on track.  They don't want it, she said.  They want you to come  in on Friday night and solve the problem by Monday morning, and then let them go on as before. Coming soon, I bet: Mr. Clean returns.

No comments: