Food lines

I spend a fair amount of time thinking about how I could design things better than the people who designed them. One example is food lines, like you’d go through at luncheons or cookouts, for example. They’re set up poorly every single time. My complaint is very simple and the solution is obvious, so I don’t know why people don’t realize this. The plates, napkins, and plastic utensils are always put together at the beginning of the line, but there is no reason napkins and utensils should be at the beginning. They should be at the end, for two obvious reasons.

First, so your hand is not burdened with the task of holding both the plate and the napkin and utensils while you’re piling food onto your plate, which makes it easy to drop one or more of the items, to have a precarious grip on your (flimsy) plate, or to leave the napkin or utensils behind because you can’t keep them underneath your plate while you put it down on the table because then it would be tilted and unstable, so you place them to the side, only to accidentally walk away without them. With only a plate in one hand and nothing on top of or underneath it, it would be easy to hold or set down your plate, add food to it with one or both hands, and pick it up and keep going.

Second, in lots of situations with many food choices, you might not know what utensils you need. Maybe you plan on getting a hamburger so you don’t get a knife, but you decide to get some additional meat that requires a knife, but you don’t have one. Maybe you thought you could scoop everything up with a fork, but upon closer inspection you decide something or other would do much better with a spoon. There is no problem if you can get a spoon at the end of the line instead of going back to the beginning and reaching in in between people.

Everyone’s first response is, “Oh, my god, why can’t you stop complaining and just deal, like every other human who has ever lived?” But inconvenience and spills are fairly common in food lines like this, and the solution is both simple and obvious. So I have a better response: Why is it so hard to put the napkins and utensils where they belong, at the end of the line? Cups and drinks are at the end of the line. They are no more required to select and obtain your food than forks, spoons, and napkins are. Why not put the cups and drinks at the beginning, too? Why should one set of items that is no help and is, in fact, a hindrance to getting the food be put at the end, but another set of items that is similarly incommodious be put at the beginning? Stop being a dumbass and move them all to the end.

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