As I’ve mentioned before, I like to get out of the house once a day for lunch if I can. I go after the lunch rush to avoid the crowds and so reduce my chance of catching a cold from someone. But you can’t avoid the damn humans entirely and I do enjoy the people-watching.
One constant is the standard American pause before the self-serve soda fountain. You know what I mean, the guy standing in front of the fountain with an empty cup in hand as if he’s been asked to change the fuel rods in a nuclear reactor. But I have come to realize the pause is rarely due to confusion. (Regrettably, it sometimes is due to confusion. There are the people who press non-existent buttons when they should be pushing their cup in under the fountain and vice versa. They’re redfaced and you’re just glad you didn’t do it.) No, the pause is usually due to choices, too many choices. The guy can’t decide what he wants to drink. Eventually, he chooses what he always drinks (probably). Yet most people have this impulse to pause and survey their options. Because we gobble up options? Because we hope that one day a flashy new logo will appear on the pour spouts and dazzle us? I don’t know.
This is the Soda Machine Pause (SMP) and it’s a measurable statistic. You or your lackeys sit by self-service soda machines for hours on end measuring the pause.Â In 2006, what is the average SMP (the ASMP)? What does our ASMP say about us? Is the Colorado ASMP different from the New York ASMP? How do those compare to the London and Shanghai ASMPs (assuming they have self-serve soda machines in London and Shanghai)? Should we be concerned if the Chinese ASMP is 50% lower than ours?
These are questions for the experts to tackle. If you or someone you know is an aspiring sociologist, feel free to pass this on to them.