This is a paper I wrote in 20 minutes for my Engineering Psychology class. It’s kinda drafty, but, um, whatever.
Describe a work situation from the point of view of Engineering Psychology. 2 pages.
When I was 14 I worked at McDonald’s. I was too young to flip burgers, so I either worked the cash or at the drive-thru window. The job was menial and boring, yet surprisingly easy to mess up. My job could be described in 3 steps.
1. Take verbal order from customer
2. Enter order on touchpad, which transmits a ticket to the Kitchen
3. Collect Cash
My argument here is that the customer can perform the 2nd step and possibly 3rd step themselves and spare me the trouble. Then I could work in the kitchen or elsewhere and speed up the service. Or they could eliminate my crappy job altogether. Simple self-serve kiosks have already been set-up in places like Durham, North Carolina (http://www.wral.com/technology/2350512/detail.html), and I think that this is a good idea.
McDonalds runs an Information Processing system. It takes verbal orders from customers and converts those orders into written tickets. Those tickets were the language of McDonalds.
It was my job to use the touchpad to translate from English to McDonaldese. The customer would say, “Number 1, with a Coke” and I would push “Combo #1”, “Coke.” That would transmit a ticket to the kitchen. The touchpad would get confusing, especially with special orders (no pickles, etc), but it wasn’t that bad. The operations involved were not especially complicated, and they have since been simplified into easy to use photo menus. Sometimes I would mess up the order and people would get grumpy, and I’d be like ‘Why don’t you use the damn touchpad?’ And, now, people are beginning to do just that.
It is better for everyone if the customer could interface directly with the kitchen without me. If I entered the order correctly nobody was at all impressed, but if I messed it up people got mad at me. It was not a very rewarding job. I was never applying my human intelligence to solve problems or be creative. I just felt like I was performing the job of a computer, badly. Having a human interface between McDonalds and the customer just introduces errors into the system. It would be better to allow the customer to interface directly with McDonalds. It makes for a more efficient workplace.