Saturday, June 16, 2018

The Crunchy Taco Principle

One person can make a difference. In fact, it's not only possible for one person to make a difference, it's essential that one person makes a difference. And believe it or not, that person is you.  - Bob Riley

My favorite part of going to Taco Bell is when, after ordering some kind of taco meal combo, the invariable question asked is, "soft or crunchy?"  I just love it when they ask that!  I'm not sure why, but I guess it's the predictability of the service experience that's playing out, which is, at any price, a comforting experience.

Being a total crunchy taco junkie for decades, I've never even really thought about it much, until recently a boyfriend joining me at lunch asked why I always order crunchy.  I didn't have much of an answer, it's just that I always ordered crunchy - and so crunchy it always was.  At that moment, though, I decided to live large and just go for it, so I ordered soft.

Lo se bebe! Lo se!
And talk about enlightenment; it was as if a whole new universe opened up for me - and for under ten dollars, and all because he spoke up and questioned why I'd done something just the same way forever. No ad campaign could have ever done this; it was my friend... it was the power of one.

It reminded me of the old fable, the pot roast principle, which I first heard over thirty years ago from a manager who believed in storytelling as a way to inspire his team. I thought it was a great story, mostly because it contained pot roast, and pot roast is just my favorite thing of all time except for maybe tacos. Anyway, please read the story here, and then come back and we'll talk a bit more about what's on my mind today.


I always knew that when I got married, it would be non-traditional. Not just because I'd be falling in love with and marrying another guy, but because I always squirmed a bit when attending the traditional marriage ceremonies, the ones that seem to comprise probably 98% of all weddings (of any gender combination), the ones where just about everyone is suffering inside a rented, starchy something or other thing that has at least some percentage of polyester and making the 85 degree June afternoon seem to be about 115 degrees in reality, and sitting on those wobbly fold out chairs while being nervous about creating a faux pas of some sort by wolfing down too many hors d'oeuvres and embarrassing themselves, because everybody's been waiting and starving for about three hours for the ceremony to be over with so the caterer can finally be given the secret signal to bring out the overcooked rubber chicken breasts and unsalted frozen/boiled mixed vegetable medley. 

Don't get me wrong, I'm all in for sweating in stiff collars and shiny uniforms and pretending that I like certain overrated and overpriced foods when duty calls, yet, on my own personal time, those are the moments I want all-cotton comfy social experiences with not very much of it covering my skin in the first place, and with a big clutchy handful of paper brown napkins to catch the hot sauce exploding off the fourth crunchy taco I've just chomped into.

For years, though, I wanted my wedding to be on the D-train, specifically, D-train Norwood, running between Columbus Circle and Harlem 125th Street, mostly because that segment is 13 minutes of blissfully uninterrupted Metro Transit Authority express, famous for and with always a reliable small troupe of random subway hip hop dancers enlivening the crowd and the mood, more than anywhere else in NYC I can think of for that short span of time. And there'd be plenty of time within 13 minutes for both the I-do's and the entertainment, pulling up to 125th just in time to disembark and the wedding party walking one block over to Red Lobster, whereupon endless baskets of their famous butter biscuits would be spread out for all to feast and enjoy.

That was, until...  I discovered the Taco Bell Wedding Package.  

Taco Bell has its own website here devoted to this amazing combination of crunchy, soft, and love, and even inspiring success stories here. And although the couples on display are a bit more dolled up than I'd be at my own hot sauce dripping ceremony, I do applaud them for allowing themselves to be featured.

The feature stories, however, along with the classic display of Mr./Mrs. t-shirts on their site, caused me to start to think about if I'd really fit in on my big day. Not because they'd ever be able to find a bigger taco fan, but because, well, something just seemed missing in all the promotional materials... like, well, where was the reassurance I needed in some form of, hey... welcome!... both you AND your husband!

So I decided to be bold, and just ask; you know, that whole power of one thing, and I found the contact form on the corporate website, and simply, nicely, asked, hey Taco Bell... I know you're my favorite place to eat and all, and because of that I probably will choose you instead of my idea for the D-train to Harlem wedding, but, how about if I need a Mr./Mr. merchandise gift bag at the end?  Would that be all good with you folks there? 

Within just a couple of hours of my initial inquiry, I got a very nice, welcoming and positive energy personal phone call from the General Manager of Las Vegas Taco Bell himself, assuring me that it's been full speed ahead at Taco Bell weddings, both from the beginning and also now and into the future, for whenever I'd like to arrive with my better half of any gender to celebrate our union at their establishment, and I'd always be welcome there under any combo, so to speak.

Welcome there! Just like in the best domestic team workplaces. And just like in inclusiveness of others who may be different yet still valuable contributing members... making, anyplace, actually, the best of anywhere. 

And not even 12 hours later from then, and from a large corporation which no doubt fields hundreds of emails every day, I also got the nicest phone call from a lady at their corporate explaining that yes, not only am I and my husband-to-be welcome to order our wedding right off the menu, yet many have come before us there, as well. The reason, which she was very happy to explain and that I'd not noticed on their site, is that only the most recent few weddings are entered and on an updating most-recent-event basis, and so if there'd not been an LGBT wedding the most recent few, it would, of course, not have been noticeable.  

So what if, I proposed to her, if another few small photographs were added to the website which simply had pics of Mr/Mr and Mrs/Mrs t-shirt packages?  The wording wouldn't even needed to be changed on their site, just adding this little signal of inclusiveness would give great relief to those of us who were wondering.

And to my great delight, she thought this was a great idea, and promised to send the idea over to the Wedding department to have this considered. And I was so pleased, not so much because this clear signal of inclusiveness could then become a reality at my favorite eatery, yet mostly because I, one person, had simply proposed an idea, and that one idea could affect countless others down the road.  

Or should I say, down the isle.


Where do we see this power of one play out at work, in domestic service teams?  What tasks are your team completing in some way which is only being done because that's the way things have been done for a long time, and no one has said:  hey, wait a minute, what would happen if...  

...we tried soft, instead of crunchy?

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