By on July 1, 2016

cheese

I was deep underwater this morning in the line at Jimmy John’s Subs, a pair of ragged claws scuttling across the floors of silent seas. Thinking about my son. Last night was his first time on a full-sized racetrack in his 50cc TopKart. I was terrified, but he was masterful, entering turns fearlessly at full throttle and nonchalantly catching slides on the way out. His feedback afterwards was detailed, exact; he remembered corner numbers and physical reference points. The best student I’ve ever had, by far, and to the manner born. No reason to not be ecstatic, although for me the happiest moment was when I told him to call it quits and he deliberately slid to a forty-five-degree-angled halt dime-square on the start/finish line, no longer in danger from light poles and concrete walls.

That was good, but there was this, too: I’d just seen a photo of a woman with whom I’d once had something. Smiling, holding a bouquet of flowers at her very recent wedding. Not sure what to think about that. Married to another handsome devil. Always the case. I’m always the most hideous, deformed creature any of my girlfriends ever dates. The minute I release them from my spell, they settle down with fresh-faced men fifteen years my junior, sensitive fellows with properly progressive leanings, tirelessly and cheerfully reaping from the furrows I’ve drukenly and dispiritedly sown. What this woman and I had wasn’t much. A few nights. A brief, furtive coupling at a racetrack before we both went out and drove press cars. Still. I could have loved her.

I mention all of this so you understand why I did not protest. The woman at the register said, “Do you want cheese?” I replied in the affirmative. She rang up “ADD Cheese $0.75.” Normally, I’d have protested this. The “Slim 5” sandwich comes with cheese. I shouldn’t have to pay for it. But I was lost in thought. I said nothing, and I paid, and I moved on.

There were maybe fifteen people ahead of me. At the end of the sandwich production line, a dashing looking black fellow with a random sprinkling of gold teeth called out the orders.

“Turkey Tom, extra cheese, thank you.”

“Vito, extra cheese.”

“Slim 3.”

“Number Three, add mayo, extra cheese.”

“Number Six, thank you.”

“Big John, extra cheese.”

There was a pattern here. I recognize patterns by default. It’s what I do. I started keeping track. Ten of the twelve orders before mine had ordered extra cheese. When my turn came, I knew what he’d say.

“Slim 5, extra cheese, thank you.” I’m sure that you, the reader, understand what was going on. The woman behind the register was new to the job. She’d seen the “Cheese” button and had deduced that it meant cheese or no cheese. In fact, the button meant extra cheese. So she’d been charging seventy-five cents per order for extra cheese, which was then applied down the line. And the line of downtown workers ahead of me, very few of whom earn under a hundred grand a year, all lost in the seas and dark oceans of their own minds, had simply permitted it to happen. If you make $60 an hour, it’s literally not worth your time to even mention the extra 75 cents.

I realized that I was a small part of an unconscious process. By “unconscious”, I mean not conscious. What is consciousness? If you’ll permit me to boil down 1,300 pages of Douglas Hofstadter books into a single half of a sentence, then we can define consciousness as “the presence of observation.” Anything that happens without observation is unconsciousness. Ants are unconscious. They are simply following a basic set of rules and chemical influences. No ant ever stops to wonder why it is carrying a piece of bread or sugar to the queen ant. The queen ant doesn’t stop to wonder why it is laying eggs. Neither of these creatures recognizes the concept of “I.”

Most of what humans do is unconscious and unobserved. We do not order our hearts to beat and we rarely think about the fact that our hearts are beating. We do not command our stomachs to process food. If you have ever arrived at the end of your morning commute without remembering how you got there — congratulations! — that’s unconscious driving.

I’ve written a bit about the effect of conscious thought on racetrack driving, and you can read it in more depth if you so choose. What I want to do right now, however, is consider the entire Jimmy John’s restaurant as an unconscious system.

The woman who was pressing “Cheese” didn’t truly know why she was doing it. But more important is the eight-person production line of that restaurant. Any one of them could have noticed that the vast majority of orders included extra cheese. Had any of them said, “Wait a minute. Are all of these people really ordering extra cheese? This is unusual,” then the Jimmy John’s, as a unit, would have become conscious. It would have been observing what it was doing. Observation is the fulcrum on which consciousness tilts. There is nothing unusual about a single extra cheese order, but eight in a row is unusual. It takes observation to understand this. It also takes an awareness of time. Patterns exist in time.

Since no individual worker at Jimmy John’s thought to step back and consider the order flow as a whole, across time, consciousness was not achieved. I sat and ate my meal in silence, listening to about 50 customers receive extra cheese. Then I left the unconscious system and returned to my desk to participate in yet another system that is mostly unconscious, believe me. We have a bunch of very smart, very highly compensated people who almost never stop to ask why a particular thing is happening. I do almost all the troubleshooting in the department, because I’m the typa dude who notices the reasons for things. I’m the conscious person there. But not so conscious that I leave my job to pursue my dream, whatever that dream might be. I’ve forgotten the dream. It might have had something to do with a woman. Or a car. Maybe that wasn’t any of it. It has escaped me. I’ve been an ant too long to ever be an eagle.

Did you ever look at the cars around you, at the product stocked by dealers, and wonder how we got here? How we went from the sleek squares of the ’60s to the Baroque coupes of the ’70s to the humble hatches of the ’80s to the camper-top SUV-trucks of the ’90s and finally to the bland box CR-V clones that are sold in identical form by everybody from Kia to Porsche? Do you wonder why you can’t get a Honda Accord with Touring trim and a manual transmission? Why there’s no 300C Hellcat? Why the only available colors are silver and grey?

I’m here to tell you that there is no conscious process. Dealers fall into patterns of ordering certain products. The manufacturers fill those orders with all the conscious thought of the fellows on the Jimmy John’s line as they add extra cheese to all the sandwiches. In 1995, the dealership at which I worked ordered 30 Explorers in Medium Willow Green in the space of three months. Ford didn’t tell us to mix the colors up. They put the cheese on. My boss was under the impression that Medium Willow Green was the only color that sold every time. So he kept hitting the cheese button. He was an idiot.

Product mix is nothing but the combined opinion of a thousand idiots hitting the cheese button. “Corvettes sell best with automatic transmissions” — CHEESE.

“You can’t have a loaded car with the base engine, or a bare-bones car with the big motor” — CHEESE.

“Nobody wants a sedan in bright blue or red” — CHEESE.

Nobody looks up. Nobody asks. Nobody thinks. The whole mechanism is unconscious. And when the extra-cheese sandwiches arrive, they sell, because it’s the only option. That reinforces the extra-cheese mentality.

It’s not a harmless process, this unconscious cheese-lining. It robs us of choice. It puts us in the position of having to buy what we’re offered, knowing that our purchase of that product is also a vote for the status quo. If you buy an automatic-transmission Accord Sport because that’s all they have in stock, you’ve fucked yourself and you’ve also fucked the rest of us, because you just voted for that dealer to stock automatic Sports exclusively.

I’m not going back to Jimmy John’s tomorrow. I can’t eat there two days in a row without the depression swelling up. Come Tuesday or Wednesday, I’m going to go back. If they try to stick me with cheese, I’m going to say something. I will provide that entire restaurant with a conscious moment. You can do the same. Order the car you want. Don’t take no for an answer. It’s not just a conscious action. It’s an unselfish one. You’re voting for choice. Like the choice my old not-quite-a-girlfriend made, when she decided to abandon men like me. Scratch that. Like Jamie Lannister said, there are no men like me. There’s only me. And there is only you. So order what you want. Be yourself, even if all you are is an unhappy middle-aged man standing in line for a $4 sandwich.

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187 Comments on “No Fixed Abode: The Day That Everybody Bought Extra Cheese...”


  • avatar

    If someone TRULY wanted a manual, they’d only buy a manual.

    Dodge Vipers around here rot on lots because: #1 they are too expensive and #2 they have manuals instead of automatics.

    Automatics SELL immediately and manuals just sit around till dealers can get the word out about them. I’m sure int he ope-country manuals do better, but not here in bumper to bumper NYC traffic.

    And before someone opens their mouth about how easy driving a manual in traffic can be:

    THE FREE MARKET HAS SPOKEN and THE FREE MARKET IS NEVER WRONG.

    Dealers want to stock only what they can sell immediately. They can’t have cars just “sitting around” – nor can they risk putting overstock outside – since these ANIMALS will steal the wheels right off of the better cars (HELLCATS and SRT models for example).

    so what do they do?

    They order fully loaded models in the most popular selling colors and trims and when someone walks in interested – they convince you you can afford the extra cost and you get a deal worked out – only to drive away over-satisfied that your car has more features than the next guy.

    You’ve got 32 spark plugs?

    O well may car has 47.

    ORDERING a car means “WAITING”.

    Not today.

    Not in this instant-gratification craving society.

    I didn’t want “ruby red”.

    That’s not my character.

    I could have ordered the exact car I wanted – but I didn’t do that because a combination of dealer pressure, instant-gratification and money burning holes in my pocket forced me to buy exactly what I saw at that moment.

    I can just hold onto it and trade it when I see what I really want.

    Some over-anxious dealer will offer to swap my cheeseburger for a newer cheeseburger.

    Then I can get even MORE CHEESE.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      “THE FREE MARKET IS NEVER WRONG.”

      2008.

      • 0 avatar

        DO NOT “CONFUSE CAPITALISM” with “CRONY CAPITALISM”.

        DO NOT confuse: “Free market” with “MARKET MANIPULATION”

        I’ll say it again: THE FREE MARKET IS NEVER WRONG.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          “DO NOT “CONFUSE CAPITALISM” with “CRONY CAPITALISM”.”

          No True Scotsman.

          an unregulated “free market” encourages manipulation like that.

        • 0 avatar
          stryker1

          axiomatic nonsense.

        • 0 avatar

          DO NOT “CONFUSE CAPITALISM” with “CRONY CAPITALISM”.

          DO NOT confuse: “Free market” with “MARKET MANIPULATION”

          This. Right here.

          Yes, regulations are necessary but many regulations are applied at the wrong link of the chain.

          There were plenty of regulations to bring the housing market to its knees in 2008. Some based on PC, some based on greed.

          Banks and ratings agencies often had to follow federal mandates requiring a mix of toxic loans with healthy ones in their portfolios. And then when it all came crashing down, the free market was blamed and the rules were rewritten to benefit the biggest banks at the expense of the others – and you and me.

          Crony Capitalism 101. FDR would’ve been proud.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            “Banks and ratings agencies often had to follow federal mandates requiring a mix of toxic loans with healthy ones in their portfolios. And then when it all came crashing down, the free market was blamed and the rules were rewritten to benefit the biggest banks at the expense of the others – and you and me.”

            There are and never were federal mandates requiring “toxic loans” in a portfolio. To make the gov’t backed loans there had to be documentation that proved the loan was viable.

            The problem were the people buying the mortgage backed securities on the private market. Those institutional investors had done very well with those products in the past and they got lazy and stopped requiring full documentation. Others noticed that there was a lot of money to be made in investing in mortgage backed securities and soon the mortgage companies had lots of money thrown at them to loan with no requirements other than meeting a target rate and having their name on the deed.

            That led lenders to offering the liar’s loans with no documentation. It also led to individual brokers fudging applications and encouraging the borrowers to fudge the applications.

            So the root of the problem is actually the same as the root of the problem that caused the dot gone boom and bust. People with money to spend on something because they heard there were great profits to be had but had zero clue as to what they were buying.

            Anytime you have people wildly throwing money at something there will be those that come out of the wood work willing to take that money.

            In the 90’s all you had to do was get a catchy .com and a vague hint of what you were going to do with it and investors would purchase every worthless stock certificate you could print for top dollar.

            In the 2000’s those that still had money needed a new place to throw their money at worthless certificates that they knew nothing about.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            Budda-Boom,
            You have raised a salient point. Regulation that protects the consumer and/or public is generally counter productive to what the manufacturers want.

            Contrary to what many think on TTAC the US vehicle market is influenced more by import taxes, technical barriers and regulatory controls than US vehicle culture.

            Read the article below in relation to CAFE targets that the major US auto manufacturers are whining over. Safety concerns that protect the consumer, how often does a manufacturer drag the chain over their accountability in major safety issues?

            Regulations and controls that benefit the manufacturers, ie, technical barriers, biased regulations within market (cars vs favouring trucks in the US), burdensome taxes on imports (chicken tax) are welcomed by the manufacturers and UAW.

            There are good consumer biased regulations and poor manufacturer/UAW biased regulations that have a negative impact on the motor vehicle industry.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            @BAFO – I don’t see where you didn’t bring up the Chicken tax, again for the 5th time in 2 days, straight out of the ‘clear blue’.

        • 0 avatar
          Piston Slap Yo Mama

          The only way to keep our financial system from skidding into a ditch, flipping over, bursting into flames and annihilating the passengers (us) is regulation. This, BTSR, is a thing you loathe.
          Catch-22.

        • 0 avatar
          orenwolf

          I’m pretty sure in a truly free market there would be even less north-american manufacturing than there is today.

          The “free market” has decided the cheaper the product at wal-mart, the better. Cheaper to make it somewhere for slave wages and ship it back to NA.

          Not cronyism, just the side effect of millions having no extra money, caused by jobs going to where it’s cheaper to make things.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            “I’m pretty sure in a truly free market there would be even less north-american manufacturing than there is today.”

            money travels. people don’t.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            orenwolf,
            We all started out on “slave wages”.

            Now we are richer gives us the right to dictate? WTF?

            Yet many comments I read here on TTAC gives me the impression many don’t like the “big and rich” in our own societies.

            How can you justify your comment. This is a primary reason I don’t like unions.

            Unions are only successful in the richer nations. Unions generally despise the rich in their own societies, but will cry when someone from a poorer society wants a slice of the pie.

            That’s why socialism is the worst form of capitalism. A capitalist will take risks for personal embetterment and a unionist or socialist wants the benefits of capitalism with no risk.

            Your attitude really sucks and is quite selfish. You are a typical right winger (probably hiding as a socialist) with little empathy for the poor.

            The poor in the US, Canada and Australia are not poor compared to how others live around the world.

            I’m a right leaning person, but I’m also smart enough to know if more people are richer globally all will be richer globally.

            You believe in suppression of aliens. You exhibit xenophobic traits.

          • 0 avatar
            orenwolf

            Big Al,

            You noticeI didn’t suggest whether or not I agreed with any of it. I just stated my belief that in a truly free market, people tend to choose cheaper over “local”, and in a lot of cases, do this because they can’t afford to do otherwise.

            That used to be me. Now, I have disposable income, I can choose to support local where possible, and ethically sourced, fair-trade goods abroad.

            I’m perfectly happy to support underprivileged workers in other countries! But I choose to give my support through corporations who choose to pay a fair wage *to those workers as well*, not the ones who pay the minimum they can get away with.

            I support organizations like Kiva who provide low-cost loans to the underprivileged to help them start their own businesses in third world countries.

            I think that’s a million times better than supporting a NA corporation paying slave wages to exploited workers and keeping it for themselves.

            The point I was making, though, is that I do this by choice, and by privilege. Most do not or cannot, and without inducement by regulation, most companies would not bother to care about worker rights in exploited work forces as a result.

            A non-free market means sure, us NA citizens may pay more on average for goods, but we do so to be better world citizens as a result. A lot of people seem to disagree with this stance.

      • 0 avatar
        pragmatist

        Regulatory fingerprints were all over that mess.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          In that they allowed the banks and ratings agencies to do whatever the hell they wanted. sounds like a free market to me.

          • 0 avatar

            You think that’s true?

            did it ever occur to you that the government either didn’t know exactly what was happening, was too incompetent/inept to know what was happening or Used the housing market to bolster the claims that the economy was “booming”?

            There were so many players looking to get a dime that it was a massive blind-conspiracy involving everyone from the Banks to the homeowners WHO WERE LYING ON THEIR APPLICATIONS ABOUT THEIR INCOME.

            I’ll say the same thing I always say when I hear some idiot claim “the bankers should be in jail”.

            What about the buyers?

            What about their congressmen?

            These idiots scream racism – “You won’t give me a mortgage because I’m Brown”…and then they get one, can’t keep a job and then loose the property – only to turn around to wanna blame SOMEONE ELSE?

            WELL I’M NOT HAVING IT.

            WE ARE GOING TO MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN.

            Government should have NEVER HAD ANY HAND IN THE BANKING SYSTEM BEYOND CONSTITUTIONALLY ALLOWED DUTIES.

            The government INSURED risks. That’s why the housing system is still broken, the student loan system is a TRAP and health insurance is broken as well.

            The problem with SOCIALISM is that eventually you run out of other people’s money to spend – Thatcher.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            “did it ever occur to you that the government either didn’t know exactly what was happening, was too incompetent/inept to know what was happening or Used the housing market to bolster the claims that the economy was “booming”?”

            The government was bought off to turn a blind eye. Democrats, Republicans, everyone. And that’s exactly what they did. They allowed this disaster, which truly was a free-market deal, beginning to end.

            But don’t fool yourself…what happened in the late 2000s is a prime example of what happens when banks “regulate themselves.” Saying we should lessen regulations is like someone who just barely survived a bout with lung cancer starting a pack-a-day habit again.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            I would think that someone with BTSR’s vast experience in it would know the difference between “loose” and “lose”

          • 0 avatar
            RHD

            There’s a fair number of B&Bs who wish he would get loost.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          “Regulatory fingerprints were all over that mess.”

          Not even remotely true…in fact, our elected officials were paid to make the regulators look the other way.

          • 0 avatar
            Zykotec

            @BTSR
            Just like with a democracy, the free market will always be mostly ‘wrong’, but still usually within what is considered acceptable by the majority. And that is because we have a strong flock mentality and msot of us really don’t want to be the one guy in the line that says no extra cheese please’. (OMG; is he on a diet, is he a vegetarian, or vegan, does he have an ulster, is he lactose intolerant?)
            As for automatics, if I was able to sell my house twice, I could afford a newer Rolls Royce that has an automatic that is foxed to the point where I would find it’s behaviour ‘acceptable’. But, tbh, paying 200K extra on top of a new car purchase, to fix a feature I don’t really want in the first place doesn’t seem like a thing I would do.
            The only reasonable option to a manual transmissionfor me would really be no gears at all, like a Tesla or Koenigsegg. As soon as an automatic transmission has more than 4 gears it should just be a CVT.
            Also, socialism doesn’t run out of other peoples money as long as we don’t have an upper class refusing to share what they gain from not paying their workers, same thing happened to the ‘trickle-down effect which should have occured in a free market/capitalism, but is instead replaced of just rich people sharing their wealth only among their class. There really should be a limit on how large a percentage you can take as income from other peoples work/effort without sharing before you automatically get the guillotine.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            In the early to mid part of this century the Canadian banks spent considerable time and effort lobbying the government to remove the many regulations and restrictions imposed on them.

            Their argument that these prevented them from the type of aggressive investments and growth that the banks in the USA, the UK and even Iceland were experiencing. Maintaining the existing regulations they argued would eventually render them incapable of competing with these foreign banks.

            The government of the day rejected their arguments and maintained strict regulation over the banks.

            We know the outcome. Banks in the USA went under. As did banks based in the UK. Others required massive government bailouts. The nation of Iceland nearly was drawn into bankruptcy.

            And the regulated Canadian banks emerged relatively unscathed, in a much stronger competitive position and have increased their international presence, including buying up American banks/investment dealers.

            So much for regulation being or causing the problem.

            Whenever ‘free market’ capitalism has been the predominant practice the result has been economic upheaval, income disparity and eventually depression/recession. The Gilded Age, the Roaring Twenties and Reaganomics all eventually resulted in devastating economic turmoil.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        “THE FREE MARKET IS NEVER WRONG.”

        Definitionally.

        It’s a direct and inevitable consequence of more freedom being less wrong than less freedom, applied recursively.

    • 0 avatar
      duffman13

      I have a manual and love driving a manual. As a second car. There is a reason I do my commuting in an auto and save the S2000 for weekends and track days. It has a light clutch too, and it still sucks to drive it in traffic over the auto.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        I vastly prefer manuals in traffic. Especially with gearboxes as metaperfect as the S2000’s. Autos always shift at the wrong time in any complex scenario, and transmission less Teslas are just plain awkward and unpleasant.

    • 0 avatar
      David

      Great writing. Funny insights. Thanks.

    • 0 avatar
      tonycd

      Good Lord, yet another thread derailed at the outset by BTSR?

      I just came from two threads up. Same exact outcome.

      After all this sound and fury about moderators? Really?

      Very, very incidentally: nice column, Jack.

      • 0 avatar
        Detroit33

        As far as I can tell Jimz and Budda boom hijacked the thread not BTSR. His comment was mainly about manuals and that shitty red color car he bought.

    • 0 avatar
      PandaBear

      The fundamental problems of 2008 is the low interest rate since 2001, that drives investors to take riskier bets. So the banks package bad mortgage into near sub prime loans with CDS and the rating agents trench them as AAA because of the CDS, and that’s “profitable” because the lowest performing trench is written off and it is still profitable.

      Until it isn’t.

      These trenches products drive up the real estate prices and their collapse reduces them, and the volatility propagate back to the Fannie / Freddie backed loans in the market in general.

      Who reduces the interest rate to 0 for so long is to be blamed.

    • 0 avatar
      Hydromatic

      “Dealers want to stock only what they can sell immediately. They can’t have cars just “sitting around” – nor can they risk putting overstock outside – since these ANIMALS will steal the wheels right off of the better cars (HELLCATS and SRT models for example).”

      And that IMHO leads to the Lowest Common Denomination of the car.

    • 0 avatar
      onyxtape

      Counterpoint: The free market has remakes for things like Robocop, The Karate Kid, and Total Recall. That’s plain wrong.

  • avatar
    JimZ

    Never mind the cheese, how can you eat “salt and vinegar” chips? Those things taste like burning.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Those chips didn’t even register to me. I think I have had them once in life, and that was plenty.

      JJ does not put enough meat on the sandwich. If I’m going to go to a restaurant for lunch meat, pile it on.

      #pennstation

    • 0 avatar
      SSJeep

      The Salt and Vinegar chips at Jimmy John’s are not there for eating out of the bag. Instead, unwrap your sandwich, open the sandwich down the cut line, and dump all of the chips in the sandwich. Then close the sandwich and take a bite.

      You will never feel the same about a simple sub sandwich again…

  • avatar
    heavy handle

    Jack,

    I wasn’t going to say anything but, now that you mention it, all that cheese isn’t doing you any favors.

    Full disclosure: I’m intolerant of the whole cheese thing. Probably to my benefit.

  • avatar
    pragmatist

    Wow. Trying to summarize Hofstadter in a single paragraph.

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    “We gotta have posts from da Baroots; dey’re carryin’ dis site!” – CHEESE

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    A gramme is always better than a damn, citizen.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Unconsciously monochromatic.

    I should have snapped a picture of the vehicles parked at my niece’s graduation. Crew cab trucks, SUVs, CUVs – all grey and black and white, including my Highlander. The one vehicle that stood out? A end of production Dodge Diplomat SE, triple blue, white wall tires, almost looking like the day it left the showroom. Belongs to her paternal grandfather.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      The M-Body was ruined in 1988, when they decided to make the landau too big for the car.

      Note the excellence and restraint in acouterment here for ’87.
      http://carphotos.cardomain.com/ride_images/3/24/2501/25058750001_large.jpg

      And this mess in ’88.
      http://blog.chrysler.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/1988-Chrysler-Fifth-Avenue.jpg

      Not having it.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        The Dippy never got the “BIG” top. Dippy got full vinyl roof that was sleekly glued to the body shell.

        Do not assume that Iacocca was going to cut into 5th Ave profit margins by putting big padded tops on Diplomats.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Interesting! I see that in pics. While I see a Fifth Avenue several times a year, it’s been years since I saw a Diplomat.

          I know the 5th Ave pricing was through the roof, something like double the price of the Diplomat?

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            Don’t know. I do know that Chrysler was pleasantly shocked when they did a survey of 5th Ave owners and found out how high their median incomes were.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            An elegant and well-made car for the well-heeled.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            You may snark, but Fifth Avenues had one of the most pillowy rides I’ve ever experienced, especially in the lavishly roomy rear seat.

            Prematurely decrepit, I was right with the Greatest Generation guys in adoring that.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            My comments were not snark. The Fifth Avenue is a very nice car. And if I did not shudder at owning a carbed vehicle, I’d have one. Not like they rust or fall apart.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Fifth Avenue was a pillow on wheels even more supple than its contemporaries.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Sitting in the back in that warm red pillowed velour, watching bits of dust move casually in the sunlight. Just hide your face behind that covered c-pillar, and let yourself doze off as you stare at the little black Chrysler script emblem.

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    YOU LIVE THIS WAY BECAUSE I SAY SO. YOU THINK THIS WAY BECAUSE I SAY SO. YOU DO AS YOU ARE TOLD BECAUSE I SAY SO.

    MANUAL BAD BECAUSE I SAY SO. YOU DRIVE AUTOMATIC BECAUSE I SAY SO. FUEL EFFICIENCY IS GLOBAL WARMING LIBERAL PROPAGANDA BULLSH1T BECAUSE I SAY SO. YOU DRIVE V8 BECAUSE I SAY SO.

    Got it.

  • avatar
    thats one fast cat

    Loved the writing and a nice thoughtful way to start the morning. While written very well, I’m not sure about the conclusion.

    I have to admit that I have never worked for a car manufacturer (although I did work on the sales side after college), but I suspect the ordering and manufacturing process is a bit more complex than “more cheese.”

    While an individual sales manager may be stupidly ordering a particular color for no particular reason, I suspect more complex organizations (Penske, AutoNation, Group1, etc) actually have hired a MBA or two to look into how to equip vehicles to sell quickly.

    If I recall my days on the floor, there always seemed to be someone working for the owner that new exactly how many days a particular car was in inventory, and what combination of colors/options (try selling a 1989 Pontiac 6000STE fully loaded in Memphis during an economic collapse) was needed to move a particular group of cars most quickly.

    Furthermore, I have to believe that manufacturers think long and hard about what combinations of engines/options/colors/etc are likely to be sold. Sometimes they are right (Mazda Miata in 1990) and some times they are horribly wrong (Chevrolet HHR), but I have to believe it ain’t just throwing a dart to a wall and asking for “more cheese.”

    It seems completely rational to me that an individual buyer/leaser of a new car would pick a grey/silver/black CUV because that is the current zeitgeist and it will be easier to sell later on. I would never own any of these colors or vehicles for that very reason, but I am in the vast minority, and my commute proves it every morning.

    Anyway, an interesting view nonetheless

    • 0 avatar
      PandaBear

      Manufacturing cost has a lot more than the sum of all parts. Every configuration needs to be tested and build, and if you have too many configurations the line makes mistakes, the consumers decide not to like some of them but you ran out of others, and the line need to slow down or stop when the configuration changes. This all cost money.

      A lot of the time it is just easier to provide fewer choices and then write off some of the consumers that won’t make you any money, while in some other cases it would be easier to just make the same things and then lock out the features that customer will pay extra money for.

    • 0 avatar
      843de

      The HHR’s weren’t “horribly wrong”, just badly mistimed. Horribly wrong would have been the Chevrolet Cobalt Station Wagon which was scrapped in favor of the HHR.

      Of course they were designed and styled by Bryan Nesbitt who did the PT Cruiser while at Chrysler, so the family resemblance between the two is intentional.

      Nesbitt at last report had been “Laterally Promoted” by GM to China, it’s the equivalent of the old days when a screwup got a designer banished to the Truck & Bus Division in Pontiac, Michigan.

      GM’s version of Siberia. Nobody ever returned from the Truck & Bus Division.

  • avatar
    Matt Foley

    Jack, you grew up reading Peter Egan and Pat Bedard and your dream was to get paid to drive cool cars and write about it – and you’re doing it. So you have to do a little cube-droning to put bread on the table. Yes, that sucks, but you’ve been in the press tower on race day – a bunch of Comic Book Guys with no health insurance, Hoovering up the free sandwiches, no wives, no kids, no legacy.

    Money, benefits, security – this is why kids who wanted to be racers and writers end up in the beige-Camry corporate world. If you want to be a responsible head of household and take care of a family, you’ve got to do that…but you’re still driving cool cars and writing about it, too. That’s a step up from those of us who just autocross a few times a year – which in turn is a step up from those who hurl brickbats at you from a PC in their mother’s basement.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      ” a bunch of Comic Book Guys with no health insurance, Hoovering up the free sandwiches,”

      S**t, you think they get something so plebian as *sandwiches?*

  • avatar
    Pch101

    “I’m sure that you, the reader, understand what was going on. The woman behind the register was new to the job. She’d seen the “Cheese” button and had deduced that it meant cheese or no cheese. In fact, the button meant extra cheese. So she’d been charging seventy-five cents per order for extra cheese, which was then applied down the line.”

    She was trained in the upsell. The regular food delivers little to no profit; the margin comes from the extras and the drinks.

    If she’s successful at selling ten cents worth of cheese for 75 cents to everyone who walks in the door, then she’s a keeper.

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      That’s what I was thinking.

      The cheese upsell has 2 important impacts. It impoverishes those who fall for it, while simultaneously making them obese.

      • 0 avatar
        Adam Tonge (bball40dtw)

        In order to eat extra cheese I gotta run an extra mile. Usually it’s worth it.

        I also tend to run 10K races and such on various holidays so that I can freely.

      • 0 avatar
        Kenmore

        “making them obese”

        It’s Not Your Fault You’re Fat.

        • 0 avatar
          Pinzgauer

          thetruthaboutfat (TTAF) is rather surprising. Sugar is the enemy, not fat.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Correct.

          • 0 avatar
            FormerFF

            Watch out for any processed food. Its maker has a vested interest in having you overeat.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            Pinzgauer,
            It’s not sugar or the food we eat. It’s the lack of activity. bball is doing it correctly.

            I must have my BMI under 27.6 to keep my job. I like pizza, burgers, kebabs, bacon and egg burgers, chips (fries in US speak), etc.

            So, I must exercise 1 1/2 hours a day! So I can pass my physical and medical (which checks my BMI, blood pressure, cholesterol, etc) before I attempt my 5 000 metres, push ups, sit ups, etc. They claim if my BMI and the rest is not correct they are liable if I drop dead during the fitness test.

            The US has what I call four levels of food.

            1. trash food (most any food under $10) this includes, Taco Bell, McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy’s, Auntie Annie, lots of diner food, etc. I give most any place like these a miss. Its sh!t that your body wasn’t made to digest. Most food is based on deep frying and sugar and oil. The meat is generally made from a$$hole, claws, beaks, toe nails, etc.

            2. Junk food, PF Changs, Olive Garden (almost), many bar and grills that serve deep fried oil and sugar (delicious onion rings, wings, etc, some very yummy). I like a lot of this stuff.

            3. Half decent joints, most of what we deem a restaurant in Australia, many of your chain restaurants and steak house joints. Much food in these places are still processed and in cans and bags.

            4. Good restaurants, a meal is around $40 plus tips. Many are operator owned and a few chain operators, like Fogo De Chao. Food is made from actual food with little (I hope added chemicals).

            There are places that do make a decent feed at a decent price as well.

        • 0 avatar
          tresmonos

          f being fat and to h3ll with running. Just dip until your gums bleed. You will sh1t out all those calories in the porta potty between the body shop and final.

          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge (bball40dtw)

            One day my friend…one day…

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            I love ya, tres.

            That sounds funny enough until the doctor tells you that you have all kinds of stuff that helped kill your dad, though…

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        The upsell principle also applies to cars because the suckers will pay more for equipment if it is sold as an option than if it is included in the base price.

        I find it amusing that there are enthusiasts who actively embrace this nickel-and-diming, arguing that they are getting exactly what they want even though this approach is used so that they will pay more to get less. Not only are they being played, but they are actively defending the process that is duping them. Just another example of the Stockholm Syndrome of the automotive world.

        • 0 avatar
          stuki

          It’s a two way street. Optionitis affects leases more than purchases, and in the cases where options are automatically and implicitly assigned the residual of the base car, they can be a pretty good deal for the customer.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        A slice of cheese isn’t making people obese.

        • 0 avatar
          VoGo

          “A slice of cheese isn’t making people obese.”

          Let’s do the math, shall we? A slice of cheese is 113 calories. Figure 2 slices per sandwich, eaten daily, and you are looking at 1,582 calories a week.

          Over a year that’s an additional 82,264 calories, equivalent to about 23 pounds. Add 23 pounds/year to anyone, and they’ll be obese within a decade.

          This is *exactly* how people become obese.

          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge (bball40dtw)

            It’s not the two slices of cheese though. That may be part of it, but it’s also the large Coke, two whoppers, and sweet and sour chicken take out.

            If people were just getting extra cheese on sandwiches, they wouldn’t be obese.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Not really.

            If I do nothing but walk about 12,000 steps a day, I’ll burn well over 3,000 calories a day. Add a 40 minute workout and that’ll go to around 3,700 calories, minimum.

            Three normal meals total around 1,700 calories. If I splurge, it’s around 2,100 calories.

            One 110-calorie piece of cheese ain’t gonna do it…unless you’re completely sedentary. And if that’s the case, then being sedentary is the problem (which it was for me).

            My Fitbit Surge knows all…

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            All I’m saying is that something small, like a piece of cheese, is no big deal in the moment. But added up over time, because it becomes habitual, these little things turn into big pounds.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            A lot of Americans are now overweight or obese because these little things add up when you do them all of the time.

            Combine that with a lack of walking, and it doesn’t take much to get fat as you get older and your metabolism slows down.

            A pound of fat = 3500 calories. Walking one mile will burn perhaps 100 calories.

            Eat 200 extra calories per day (which is easy to do — a serving of cookies will get you there) and combine that with one less mile of walking per day than your European counterparts, and you end up with the American needing to take a trip to Weight Watchers. (Of course, the American will drive there.)

            You may have heard about how things add up with compound interest. Well, it doesn’t just apply to money.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Well, it’s the large coke, two whoppers, sweet and sour take out AND THEN laying around on the couch, Adam…

            High-calorie stuff isn’t really a problem as long as you’re doing it in moderation and you’re doing what it takes to burn the calories off. Doesn’t mean you should work out and then eat a pint of Chubby Hubby, but in the end, inactivity is what really packs the pounds on.
            I found that out the hard way…

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            You’re evaluating the calorie content of a slice of f***ing cheese in a complete vacuum. There are a ton of other variables you’re not accounting for, so knock it off with the “that extra cheese is making you fat” bloviating nonsense.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            The amount of effort, discipline, creativity and research it’s taken me to recently go from 265 to 230 (6’1″) when I *began* the attempt as someone never lured by cakes/cookies/ice cream etc. makes me realize and weep for the enormity of the task facing today’s young blobbos.

            They’ll never pull it off and that’s a generation-wide, nationally disabling tragedy.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            It’s hard for young people to tell themselves “No, I don’t need that fourth donut.” It’s there, so they eat it. Like goldfish.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            PCH, the problem is that too many Americans are sedentary. That’s the root of the issue.

            Take it from the guy who’s lost 70 pounds, and killed his type 2 and high blood pressure…as long as you’re doing what it takes to burn off the food you eat, and you’re eating sensibly, a piece of cheese isn’t going to kill you. In fact, I’m finding that if I eat more healthy stuff, and maintain a steady level of activity, I lose more. Weird but true – if your metabolism is accelerated through exercise, and you don’t eat enough, your body will perceive it’s starving, and will hold on to every goddamned ounce of fat it can.

            Stuff you learn…

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            The average overweight person isn’t gorging, they’re just having a bit too much here and not burning enough there. Do that long enough, and someone who began his or her adult life at a reasonable weight ends up being a middle-aged tub of goo who can’t figure out WTF happened.

            VoGo is right and you would be wise to note what he’s saying, as this principle of little s**t catching up to you applies to many areas of life, not just food and diet.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            PCH, little stuff does add up, but it’s also the little stuff that adds pleasure to your life. And without pleasure, life isn’t worth living – that includes food.

            In fact, if you want to go on a diet that is guaranteed to fail, it’s easy: deny yourself every single little thing you can. Here’s what happens – your weight loss curve flattens to zero, which is just your body’s natural reaction to being given less food over time, and then all the sudden you’re constantly hungry, and not losing weight. And you think: screw it, this isn’t working, it isn’t worth it, I’m failing, and I’m having those Fritos.

            Translation: failed diet. I failed with this mindset any number of times. So do most people who try this approach.

            The key isn’t to deny yourself the little things – it’s to make sure that you’re dealing with the little things responsibly. Want that piece of cheese? Fine. Walk a half a mile longer. Want that piece of cake? Fine. Have a smaller lunch and work out longer that night. if you gain a little bit, who cares? As long as you’re doing the right thing to work off what you eat, and you’re doing it consistently, that’s the key.

            That’s what’s worked for me. At this point, I can maintain my weight by simply doing 12,000 steps or so a day, and eating around 1,700 calories, which includes at least two healthy treats a day. If I add 30 minutes on an elliptical, then I pretty much guarantee you I’ll weight about half a pound less come the next morning.

            It’s all about balancing your “wants” with needs, and in this case, needs equal exercise. But denying yourself your “wants” is a recipe to fail. Believe me.

          • 0 avatar
            kvndoom

            Re: obesity and weight loss, etc.

            Every person’s physiology is different, so there’s no guaranteed formula for gaining weight or losing it. I’ve known people glued to their tv’s who are skinny as rails, and I’ve known extremely active folks who just. can’t. lose. weight. Metabolism, genetics, and so many other factors play a part.

            My own battle has me finding slow but steady success with low-carbs, while eating primarily meat, cheese (yes CHEESE!) and some vegetables. Low-fat wasn’t working for ME, but it could work fine for someone else.

            There’s really no one cause or cure. Laziness is no doubt a huge factor, but there are plenty of lazy and sedentary folks in the world who are still skinny.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            You are confusing the process that is required to fix a problem with the factors that created it in the first place.

            If you had followed Vogo’s advice from the start, then you wouldn’t have to be focusing on exercise as you do now in order to avoid returning to that state. A factoid:

            _____________________

            The USDA reports that sedentary men burn — and therefore should consume — 2,000 to 2,600 calories each day to maintain a healthy body weight. Specifically, sedentary men ages 19 to 30 burn 2,400 to 2,600 calories daily; sedentary males between the ages of 31 and 50 burn 2,200 to 2,400 calories; and sedentary men older than 50 burn about 2,000 to 2,200 calories each day.
            _____________________

            If aren’t sedentary, then you can consume more than that. Otherwise, you can either make dietary choices that work within that framework or else you can start growing in places that you shouldn’t. Either way, something will result from your actions or inactions, whether you like it or not.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            That sedentary 2,000-2,600 calories figure has to be based on the average 5’9″ male weighing 230 lbs in the US, then?

            I can’t eat nearly that many calories, even with regular exercise. I’d be big.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            It’s worth noting the implications of those figures — the diet/exercise regimen that allowed you to maintain a reasonable weight in your 20s will start adding pounds to your frame as you get older because your metabolism is slowing down as you age.

            So you will need to do something about your intake and/or your exercise routine as you get older. Since you should exercise anyway (it’s good for you and it speeds up your metabolism), it will probably require some combination of both.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @Freed

            A combination of poor food choices and poor lifestyle have made the nation largely obese. The foundation of which was laid in the switch the processed foods. When fat was removed in processed foods starting around 1983 to combat heart disease, artificial sugar was used as a substitute. Sugar, specifically fructose, creates fat as the liver must process it similar to alcohol. This has all been well documented in the past about eight years.

          • 0 avatar
            Felix Hoenikker

            Kvndoon,
            “e: obesity and weight loss, etc.

            Every person’s physiology is different, so there’s no guaranteed formula for gaining weight or losing it.”
            But the basic metabolic pathways are the same, what varies is the controls.For a good explanation of why calorie counting dieting doesn’t work in the long term for most people, read the first 100 pages of “Always Hungry” by David Ludwig, MD, PhD. It is an excellent distillation of the research that debunked the whole low fat diet.

          • 0 avatar
            Dan

            One Kraft single weighs 3/4 of an ounce. 365 of them weigh a smidge over 17 pounds.

            Gaining 23 pounds in their consumption would take some doing.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            Dan,
            You apparently missed where I wrote 2 slices/sandwich. Also, Kraft singles aren’t cheese.

        • 0 avatar
          Felix Hoenikker

          More like the bucket of fructose cola that tells the fat cells to feast on the sugar.

          • 0 avatar
            FormerFF

            That’s it! It’s the processed carbs, especially sugar sweetened drinks.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Fructose is evil only if it’s excessive and not being worked off, Felix.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Fructose is toxic which is why the liver processes it instead of the stomach.

            youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            What I’ve learned, 28 – and this is with the help of a nutritionist – is that a little bit of any kind of food ain’t gonna kill you. So, yeah, fructose is bad stuff, but it’s not the problem in and of itself. The problem is the amount of it that people consume. And the bigger problem is that amount of consumption combined with too little exercise. That’s the killer.

            If every American limited their fructose consumption and exercised for 60 minutes a day, I can pretty much guarantee you we’d cut the rates of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and every other diet-induced ailment dramatically. I had two of the three above and cured both by just exercising and watching what I eat. I even have the occasional snack or soda with fructose. If I do, I just burn it off on the elliptical. Problem solved. Believe me, if I can do it, anyone can.

    • 0 avatar
      mcarr

      Having been to a few too many JJ’s, I think you are giving the girl at the register way too much credit.

      • 0 avatar
        FormerFF

        I don’t go to JJ’s very often, but on the times I have gone, no one has ever asked me if I wanted extra cheese. JJ’s is well known for getting your sandwich fast, but giving you few, if any, choices. If I wanted a custom sandwich, I’d recommend Which Wich.

        I’m not really seeing the point of a Slim sandwich anyway, if you’re concerned about your weight you’d do well to get processed carbs out of your diet.

      • 0 avatar
        zamoti

        The real problem is going to JJ at all. WTF is a “gourmet sandwich” anyway? Loada crap is what. Next time to to SuperChefs instead.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      In the interest of keeping the column to a reasonable length, I didn’t go into the fact that I recognized the woman from the normal sandwich line. They run two registers at that store full-time, always with the same very quick and sharp people, so they can handle four orders a minute. The normal order woman on the left side was gone, replaced by this person. She wasn’t really the type of person to understand what an upsell was.

      • 0 avatar
        Nick 2012

        A fast-moving Jimmy John’s is incredible. The JJ in Indianapolis just off the Circle was across from my old office. Even in peak lunch hour crowds, my sandwich was usually waiting by the time I paid.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        She doesn’t have to understand it, she just has to do it.

        It should be the basic part of the training at any restaurant to always try to sell something more than what was initially requested, because that’s where the margins are. “Always ask them if they want cheese.”

        • 0 avatar
          VoGo

          “You want fries with that?”

          “Just regular or Super-Size?”

          “Can I get you another bread basket?” (eating bread is directly correlated with ordering more high margin drinks)

        • 0 avatar
          NoID

          This, times a thousand.

          In my prevous life working for a driveline supplier we were being audited by VW (ROTFLOLZ).

          A single operator was left on the line after the shift had ended to work through end of line inspections, dutifully marking three specific areas of each part with a paint pen. The auditor approached, and this facepalm conversation ensued:

          Auditor: So, what are you doing here?

          Operator: I’m marking these areas with the paint pen.

          Auditor: So, what are you indicating on the part?

          Operator: That it’s been through inspection and the paint mark has been applied.

          Auditor: Why are you marking those locations?

          Operator: Because those are the areas I mark with the pen.

          Auditor: But what are you inspecting, what about the part are you verifying?

          Operator: I’m verifying that it has a paint mark.

          She wasn’t inspecting a damn thing, she was putting paint marks on because someone told her to put paint marks on it.

          That was a bad day for us…

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Cheese is utterly disgusting. I’d have been like, “No thanks.”

      • 0 avatar
        Kenmore

        Something cheesy bad must’ve happened to you when you were little.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          There was a Nacho Incident at Chuck E. Cheese in 2004.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            You laugh, Corey, that guy in the mouse suit scared the living shit out of my oldest daughter when she was little!

            (In retrospect, probably a good thing since those stupid Chuck E Cheese birthday parties cost a fortune…)

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I never was afraid of those costume people, but I didn’t want them to be near me or take my picture with them. I’m old enough to remember the animatronic robots show they used to have in the main dining room!

          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge (bball40dtw)

            I don’t like Nacho Cheese. I like nachos, but not with the weird fake cheese stuff.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I don’t either – just as a kid when getting food at some event was a special thing.

            Or like when I was 10 and we went to Ponderosa. My fat a$$ put corn chips and taco meat on a plate in a big pile, and then nacho cheese on top. My parents said NOTHING about this. -_-

            The meal was always concluded with a big helping of soft serve vanilla with rainbow sprinkles.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Okey dokey, Kyree!

      • 0 avatar
        Adam Tonge (bball40dtw)

        Yeah, well, you know, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.

    • 0 avatar
      SSJeep

      Yep, I smelled something fishy with this one. I suspect that the store manager told the crew that if they sold more extra (flavorless mass produced provolone) cheese, they would get some sort of small bonus. So they proceeded to add it to every customers order and play dumb. Easy enough in a big city where everyone is in a rush.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      Pch101,
      Up selling in Australia has been made illegal in the fast food industry.

      I think this is a great idea.

      Buying a new car in Australia is a nightmare.

      1. First the finance person, generally a youngish female with a very low cut top and a loose (Big Truck lingo “lose”) bra. The problem with this is I was paying cash. But she was quite distracting.

      2. The insurance person, then

      3. The person, again a youngish female with a big slit up her dress who constantly is shuffling one leg over the other try to sell protective paint sh!t and window tinting.

      Up selling sucks, unless you want to sit and talk to attractive women regarding window tinting.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        Worked at McDonald’s through college. Working the register, you were ALWAYS told to “suggestive-sell, or sell up.”

        That was ~23 years ago, though, in the U.S.

  • avatar
    Messerschmitten

    One aspect of our notoriously unreliable brains is laziness. Our brains may never admit to slacking off, but they do. All. The. Time.

    The activities Jack artfully reports can be (in part) chalked up to Heuristics. Once a pattern/routine is established, the brain is willing to repeat it (sans introspection) until the spell is somehow broken.

    https://www.verywell.com/what-is-a-heuristic-2795235

    Fight the Heuristic!

    • 0 avatar
      319583076

      Laziness or economy?

      On an evolutionary timescale, our brains succeeded by economizing. In 1st world 2016, the fundamental survival problems that our ancestors faced, and which evolution favored, are essentially taken for granted, leaving our economizing minds struggling to deal with ubiquitous electronic stimulus (UES) which is designed primarily to take our money without us necessarily understanding why.

      Of course, some of us profit from getting behind the UES curtain, which begs the question of whether or not mental laziness is such a bad thing after all…

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Party-line voting is CHEESE.

    By the way – I like cheese, but I never get extra cheese.

  • avatar
    ajla

    “Order the car you want.”

    Outside of HD trucks and some higher-priced luxury cars, you can’t really custom order stuff anymore. Option packages and trim levels rule all.

    • 0 avatar
      Nick 2012

      Exactly. When I zeroed in on a manual Accord, my options were 3 trim levels in only 2 colors. LX, Sport, or EX in Black or Grey.

    • 0 avatar
      05lgt

      You can even use an auto broker to find the car you want, pay wholesale plus some willing dealer conditioning fees and a tidy profit for the broker… you get the car you want at a reasonable price. Now, if you have to have a car TODAY! that’s what you get; today’s “special”.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        But the auto broker is still restricted by what the automaker offers. I can’t order a red TLX with a black interior or a Silverado 5.3L/8A in LS trim or get a navigation system in a QX70 without also getting roof rails.

    • 0 avatar
      pb35

      I ordered a 2015 Charger SRT 392 last summer just the way I wanted it. Granite Pearl with brown interior. Red seatbelts, no sunroof. Sadly, I had to trade it, quickly, after 4 months (long story). I traded it for a Chevy SS. I could’ve ordered it but I didn’t have 7 months to wait for it to arrive on the boat from Australia. Besides, the order window was closed for 2015. I wanted Peacock Green Metallic with the 6-spd manual. What I got off the lot was Phantom Black Metallic with black interior. Automatic. Cheese.

      Great piece, Jack.

      • 0 avatar
        Nick 2012

        @PB35 – I’m glad you got what you wanted. I had to go lightly used to get the Charger I wanted because local dealers wouldn’t order or wanted MSRP

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit33

      BS, I’ve custom ordered my last 4 cars, it’s not really that hard.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        Maybe the way I wrote my original comment was poor.

        My point wasn’t that you *can’t* custom order a car. It was that it usually isn’t worth it because most manufacturers are so locked down with option packages and trim levels that ordering still can’t get you what you want.

        For example, you can’t order a Silverado with the 6.2L and cloth seats or a Maxima SR with a sunroof or a RWD 911 Targa or a Mustang V6 with just about anything available with the other trims.

        • 0 avatar
          Drzhivago138

          Aside from a few limitations as you mentioned, half-ton trucks (and heck, even midsizers) are pretty customizable from the factory. The only thing I want that’ll never happen is a SuperCab/8′ pickup in King Ranch trim. There was a SuperCab King Ranch, but only in 2002 (Styleside 6.5′ bed) and 2003 (Flareside bed). But I got closer last year when they made the SuperCab/8′ bed in Lariat trim, so at least I could get leather, if not KR leather.

  • avatar
    omer333

    But Jack, until 2016 the only way to get Accord Sports with the manual transmission was to buy a car in white, black, or gray. If you wanted an actual color you were forced to get the bloody CVT.

    Now, Honda blessed us with WHOREHOUSE RED! Praise be!

    In all seriousness, I’m not getting another Accord to get a red car. It’s going to be a WRX or one of the ST twins.

  • avatar
    Bowler300

    I will never buy another new car with a black interior. Getting harder to find every day.

  • avatar
    tbp0701

    In my last job I was also the one that kept catching things, troubleshooting and handling the out of the ordinary issues, the number of which was surprising in a room full of “detail oriented” people. I suppose part of it may have been because I avoided doing things the same way each time, varying things to keep me thinking, conscious. And when I caught these things, many times the response was something akin to, “Do you realize how many people looked at this and didn’t spot that?” So I kept a lot of elected officials from calling themselves “pubic servants,” quite a few auto manufacturers from misspelling their own product names or releasing the wrong sales figures, stopped a lot of bad or misinformation and tried to stop people from using “literally” when speaking figuratively.

    I’ve also always been observant, though, and tended to notice and even over-analyze everything. (And now I’m tempted to try to analyze what causes that trait, but I’ll avoid it). But I will add that I have a car with a manual transmission, chosen after I spent a great deal of time test driving everything that I believed I might like, and nearly everyone who has seen it has a stick shift–from the sales people to drunken co-workers to the insurance adjusters when I ran over a mattress on I-90 one night–has commented on it. I suppose it’s a little bit out of the ordinary enough for people to notice, which may be all many people really need to become conscious.

    Finally, I can’t resist adding this: at some point we have all lingered in the chambers of the sea, by sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown, Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

    (Edit: Or maybe that should be, “We have lingered in the lunch lines of extra cheese, by sub-makers wrapped in aprons red and brown, Till human voices wake us, and we drown.”)

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    Hmm, I’ve bough four new cars in my life. The first was a VW GTI, which I wanted with a five speed and a sunroof. The dealer had one in stock that was a nice shade of red, so I took it. After that, I got back into racing and needed a tow vehicle. I wanted a fairly plain minivan, the dealer had an Aerostar with a basic trim package in a medium blue color, so I took that. The third one was a Mk I Focus, I wanted a three door with a five speed and a sunroof. Nobody had that, I ordered one, got it in Grabber Green. Current car is a PHEV Fusion, I wanted in in dark grey with nav and a sunroof, dealer had it on the lot.

    Most people have certain items that are dealbreakers, and other things they don’t care that much about. My wife went looking for a three row CUV, she wanted it in either white or gold, and she wanted cooled leather seats. Everything else was negotiable. She wound up getting one with a sunroof, 20 inch polished aluminum wheels, and a towing package in addition to her cooled leather seats, but she didn’t really care about those additional things.

  • avatar
    BiturboS4

    I had the same meditation on conscious involvement the other day during a conversation with a friend. I was telling him how my wife keeps putting dents in our DD FoST by hitting pillars in parking lots. He asked how she couldn’t be getting better with practice. I told him that “the concept of practice implies a conscious engagement with the act one is undertaking.”

    Before they disappear forever, I will order a Mustang GT Premium Performance Pack with the manual in Triple Yellow. And I’ll drive it till my kids take the keys from me.

  • avatar
    fincar1

    It is not totally unconscious. If the unconscious process had resulted in the restaurant losing, instead of gaining, seventy-five cents on each order, it would have been caught and fixed before you walked into the store.

  • avatar
    Chicanery

    The one who observes, remains conscious and finds “things wrong” is also called Quality Assurance in my circles.

    It’s amazing what you can observe, consciously, when you think about what you’re seeing. Especially in terms of systems and lean processes.

  • avatar
    JustPassinThru

    Gonna have to put on my Grammar Nazi cap.

    “The best student I’ve ever had, by far, and to the manner born.”

    Negatory, Jack old boy…negatory.

    The phrase is, “To the MANOR born.”

    Meaning, born on the estate; or in use, born to his position. If, somehow, you wind up owning a magazine or successful website, and your son takes over as Editor in Chief when you retire…

    …and he’s successful, and this after sitting at your desk when he is young, watching you write and edit and select and reject…

    …and he’s as successful…

    …someone could say he’s “to the manor born.” He got it, through the genes or through potty-training days. But grew into it.

    • 0 avatar

      “But to my mind, though I am native here. And to the manner born, it is a custom. More honored in the breach than the observance.” – Hamlet (Act 1. Scene 4) by William Shakespeare.

      Jack got a degree in English Literature when it still meant familiarity with great English writers. Both phrases, “to the manor”, and “to the manner”, are used by people but only one seems to have a pedigree.

      • 0 avatar
        Jack Baruth

        “To the manor born” is essentially a witty comment on “to the manner born”. It gained memetic strength over its predecessor because there was a BBC show with the title “To The Manor Born”.

        My son is not much of an aristocrat, although he is the firstborn son of the firstborn son of the firstborn son of the firstborn son of the firstborn son going back to the old country. But he already has the habits and mindset of a racer.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          To The Manor Born is a funny show (you have to just go with how old it is and looks) if you enjoy British humour.

          I’ve seen em all. I imagine Dr. Z has as well.

        • 0 avatar
          VoGo

          It all seems pretty high fallutin’ to those of us who are “to the manure born”

          • 0 avatar
            JustPassinThru

            “To the manure borne.”

            Pretty much describes me.

            Okay, Ronnie…Jack…I’m busted. I was PoliSci and Communications, not English Lit. We were given nodding acquaintance with Billy Shakespeare, but it wasn’t part of the program to study him in-depth.

        • 0 avatar
          kvndoom

          Doesn’t that make him Damien or something? I haven’t seen that movie in a while.

        • 0 avatar
          JustPassinThru

          I doubt that BBC program had much influence. I had heard/read that phrase, “to the manor born” long before there were Internet memes, or BBC programs in the States, or anything besides three television channels.

          In the 1960s – reading a lot of the highbrow fiction my older brother was assigned in his advanced-placement English high-school classes.

  • avatar
    bikephil

    Instead of whining about the cheese and going through the trouble of writing an article about it, JUST LET THE CASHIER KNOW WHEN YOU GET YOUR RECEIPT, dumbass.

  • avatar
    p161911

    The problem with trying to order the vehicle that you really want is that most new vehicles come with rebates. To get those rebates, the customer “must take delivery from dealer inventory”. The best that you can hope for is to get something close to what you want transferred from a neighboring dealership. I ran into that trying to find a Trailblazer with cloth seats and a sunroof. Finding traction control, a standalone option for only a couple of hundred bucks without several thousand in unwanted options was impossible.

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge (bball40dtw)

      I’ve received rebates when I’ve ordered Ford vehicles. Obviously they weren’t year end super discounts. If you want something specific, you should be okay with paying a little bit more to get exactly what you want.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      On the one car I ordered, I received the incentive that was active when I took delivery.

  • avatar
    whynotaztec

    I guess this explains why it seems like 75% of new wranglers are black

  • avatar

    Or you could, you know, special order a German car with the exact options you want and none of those you don’t.

    When I got my first brand new BMW (Z4 3.0, manual top, base radio, sport seats, sport suspension) the dealer actually got mad at me and said it would kill resale value (everyone gets the power top, everyone gets the upgraded radio!) I told them to shut up and take my order, which they did.

  • avatar
    Fred

    Back to automobiles…
    There are technical reasons why some car options go away. Safety and environmental regulations, along with economy of scale limited our choices. I know Toyota is introducing a new assembly process that is more flexible that may someday allow us to custom order cars more easily. In the meantime I’d suggest you avoid the assembly food processors if you can spare the time.

  • avatar
    deanst

    Reminds me of the time the local burger joint had a sale on burgers, but kept the combo meals at the same price. You could buy the components to the meal cheaper individually versus buying the combo option. Apparently I was the only one to notice this, as everyone I saw mechanically ordered the combo meal……

  • avatar
    Geekcarlover

    I like cheese. My body, not so much. I like options in cars. My bank account, not so much. But there’s cheese all over my pizza, and the car I was looking at last week is full of things that I managed to drive over 30 years without.
    My belly and my bank can keep grumbling, I am an American.

  • avatar
    Akrontires

    Is this the first ever TS Eliot quote dropped into a car blog??

  • avatar
    joeydimes

    You’re forgetting a very important point about Jimmy John’s. In fact it’s the very reason I won’t go there.

    What kind of cheese did you inadvertently order? I’ll tell you. It was provolone. Jimmy John’s doesn’t offer a choice when it comes to cheese just like dealers don’t offer a choice when it comes to manual or automatic, big engine in a base model, etc.

    Great article – thanks for this.

  • avatar
    olddavid

    Be smart and give the boy a sibling, Jack. before he becomes “to the manner, or Manor, born. I know it sounds more than stupid now that you have him partially self sufficient, but the kid will thank you in your old age. We had our last “surprise” when I was 40, and his 18 years older sister is more like an aunt. Besides, what better excuse?

  • avatar
    SomeGuy

    I feel that in a way you are saying the dealers are the problem. So to me it sounds like we need an automaker that is willing to cut out the franchise model so people can just order what they want…

    …Sadly it seems only Tesla is willing to do that, and I don’t want to be a beta tester for $70k right now.

  • avatar
    FromaBuick6

    “If you buy an automatic-transmission Accord Sport because that’s all they have in stock, you’ve f*cked yourself and you’ve also f*cked the rest of us, because you just voted for that dealer to stock automatic Sports exclusively.”

    I bought a manual Accord Sport. And I’ve bought four manual-equipped new vehicles in the last 6 years, so I’ve more than done my part for this save the manuals nonsense. But I’m here to say that the longer I own that car the more I dislike that transmission. The clutch is so light to the point that it’s actually uncomfortable, and I really don’t get the praise for the gearbox because the shift action is just as flimsy and vague as the crappy VW it replaced, but at least the VW didn’t come with a skinny, cheap-looking shift knob.

    The Accord is a an economical, decently peppy, attractive (well, until the refresh) car with acceptable handling, a stupid dashboard, chintzy interior, lousy brakes, poor noise insulation, wretched stereo and absolutely frustrating option packaging. It’s biggest appeal is that every competitor is either dynamically far worse or presents a dubious reliability/resale proposition. More colors or wider availability of that hokey manual doesn’t change that.

    That said, Jack, your overall point about the mindless lack of choice is an insightful one. Most people are too distracted, indifferent or just outright lazy to demand they really want and accept the mediocrity that is halfassedly presented to them. Doesn’t matter if it’s cars, employment, relationships, government…anything. However, as frustrating this is to observe, the (mindless) majority rules, so this is all essentially tilting at windmills.

  • avatar

    When car companies try to move their cheese, it doesn’t seem to go over very well.

    My previous vehicle was a 2006 Ford Ranger, in screaming yellow. It was a “limited edition” color. It had also, based on the build tag, been sitting on the dealer’s lot for over a year. I thought it was awesome, and still kind of regret getting rid of it – but obviously nobody else did. And this was at a pretty high volume dealership.

    Think of the really out of the box vehicles that have come out – the Pontiac Aztek, the Nissan Murano Crooscabriolet, the Nissan Cube, the AMC Pacer. They’ve all been considered flops, and become punchlines, because it seems like people really don’t want an alternative.

    Lots of people view cars as appliances. I don’t know anything about my washer and dryer besides the brand name on them, and I will use them until they stop working (or I move). That’s the same way a lot of people look at cars.

  • avatar
    GeneralMalaise

    Take heart, Baruth. Prog men are usually low-T and mince through life with an objective of an heroic self-image.

  • avatar
    Shortest Circuit

    – an excerpt from Malcolm Gladwell’s new book.

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