But Wawa’s Ordering System IS Pretty Amazing

So this story has been making the rounds today. Smirking leftist tool Andrea Mitchell and some chattering jackass guffaw at a highly edited tape of Mitt Romney claiming to be amazed by Wawa’s touchscreen ordering system. Before rolling the tape, DNC operative Mitchell prepares the viewers for a George Bush Sr. “supermarket scanner” moment.

(Brief sidebar for you young’uns: Back when GHW Bush  was running for his second term, he supposedly was at some smile-and-shake in a supermarket and remarked about how amazing the bar-code scanning technology was, as though he had never seen it. I remember clearly the media tilt on this story, and I absorbed the message they wanted me to absorb: Bush was out of touch, and needed to go. Except it was all a lie. Bush was just making small talk. The media deliberately distorted the story.)

In the Mitchell clip, Romney talks about ordering subs at Wawa. There is a bunch of missing footage. It appears as if he is amazed that you can walk into a Wawa, construct a sub on a touch screen, place and pay for the order, and then pick up your sandwich. This amazement is supposed to tell us that Romney is your typical clueless millionaire dweeb out of touch with the way everybody lives. That’s certainly how Mitchell framed it, and her snickering response merely drove home the anti-Romney message.

Except …

1) It’s a lie. Romney alternated his Wawa story with a story about a 33-page change-of address-form in order to illustrate the inventiveness and efficiency of the private sector versus the public sector. So he wasn’t saying “aw-gee-whiz look at this stuff the rubes can do!” He was making a point, and a completely correct one at that. They merely removed that part to make him look stupid. To be certain, there was no reason for the segment other than to make Romney look stupid by presenting a doctored tape. It was not news. It was a planned and packaged hit job, and the president’s campaign duly picked it up and spread it around the social media attempting to make it go viral.

2) If he had been amazed by the ordering system, it would have been an utterly reasonable response.

I live in South Jersey, where we have more Wawas per square mile than any place on earth. They were a regional milk provider who started selling sandwiches and coffee, and became a kind of upscale 7-11. It’s a huge success story. They make a damn good sub and a better cup of coffee than Starbucks at half the price.

The thing is, their touchscreen ordering system is a great example innovative tech in daily use. It’s a brilliant, relatively recent application of touch screen technology for custom food orders. Other stores may have something similar, but I’ve never seen one in common use anywhere other than Wawas. (My Shop Rite has something similar for ordering cold cuts.)  I doubt very much Mitchell has either.

I’m still impressed by the panels, which work well under heavy use and are designed in such a way that technophobes can navigate them with ease. They’re adjustable, easy-to-read, and responsive. You can pick from a wide selection of condiments and toppings, and even choose the amount of mayo or olive oil, add bacon or extra cheese, choose to have it toasted, and order things on the side. Automating this element of the process also eliminates errors in orders and makes the entire process more efficient. It’s a good system. It must have been a risk for Wawa, and it deserves a shoutout.

Honestly? I get a little thrill every time I use it, but then again I’m a technonerd. I actually like Romney a bit more for showing this gee-whiz side of his usually robotic self. We should be amazed by amazing things. I like a man with a sense of wonder. When did wonder become a quality to be mocked?

3) This is so transparently an issue of the leftist media trying to carry water for Obama and whip up some talking point that I’m not even mad at Mitchell and the MSNBC stooges for their deception. I just feel sorry for them. They are sad, desperate, ignorant little people with a childlike worship of Obama. I’m embarrassed the same way I would be watching a schlumpy guy try to impress a beautiful girl who will never give him the time of day. It’s particularly risible watching people who know nothing about tech mocking a man for not knowing about tech, when it’s quite clear he probably knows more than they do!

There is one consistent quality that defines the leftist media: their tendency to develop teenage crushes on people in power who say the right words. (Witness their love affair with Castro.) They’ll do anything for them. An aging hack like Mitchell is all too ready to throw the shrivelled remains of her credibility in the shredder in order to give a little boost to The One.

The legacy media is dead. More people will read takedowns of Mitchell than ever saw her little stunt on TV. I doubt very much that she realizes this. Dinosaurs probably didn’t see the comet coming, either.


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Thomas L. McDonald writes about technology, theology, history, games, and shiny things. Details of his rather uneventful life as a professional writer and magazine editor can be found in the About tab.

  • http://heinleincommentary.blogspot.com/ Robert

    The question is, why do they keep doing this sort of thing? You can’t get away with it anymore. Dogs and dressage and bullying &tc. It keeps rebounding back “twice as hard.” I thought these were supposed to be the Cool Kids who understand tech so much better than conservatives? Heh.

  • victor

    Why do they keep doing this sort of thing? I hate to keep harping on it, but they’re Boomers. It’s all they know. They’re locked in a bubble of their own self-importance and can’t fathom why everyone else doesn’t occupy the same little bubble.

    That said I wish we had touchscreen ordering around here, though I’d kind of miss the small talk with the Subway guys.

  • http://heinleincommentary.blogspot.com/ Robert

    But Victor, I’m a Boomer, too. And I understand very well that you’d better better not try to get by with the (…) these days because people can go to the uneditied source in .106 seconds.

    Agree about the Subway guys.

  • http://mondayevening.wordpress.com/ Marcel

    “More people will read takedowns of Mitchell than ever saw her little stunt on TV.”

    Got that right.

  • Blake Helgoth

    It’s all just a game to make us think there is actually a real diference between Romney and Obama when there really is not. They both feed from the same trough and thus, both have the same same puppetteers. The MSM have become extremely easy to manipulate, sort of like a bunch of dumb bloodhounds. So, while these particular episodes may not be planned, what the media will do with them has become all too predictable.

  • victor

    You’re definitely one of the good ones then! ;-) Seriously, I recognize that the vast majority of Boomers are kind, self-giving, people with tons of perspective… Still, you might want to put a picture of Ben Stiller over your door, just in case the Boomover ever does occur, so the Angel of X will know to leave your house alone.

  • Karen

    Andrea Mitchell is Alan Greenspan’s wife. I doubt she is any kind of leftist. That doesn’t affect your argument about what she did here, but please don’t conclude that she is any friend of liberals.

  • http://www.godandthemachine.com Thomas L. McDonald

    I don’t see how that follows: James Carville is married to Mary Matalin.


    Greenspan is not a leftist? Karen, socialism/communism and capitalism are different branches of the same plutocratic oligarchy. Chase Manhattan Bank was located at #1 Karl Marx Plaza, Moscow, during the cold war decades. Sure, some private enterprise ventures work out well, but the general condition is that, since the industrial age, man is not free to be a man and produce the fruit of his own labor. That is a free economy in the social justice sense. Greenspan is a perfect example of capitalist greed, money making money, rich getting richer, and enslaving the middle class into mechanized tools for the super rich.

  • http://www.truthandcharity.net Micah Murphy

    You being a Jersey guy, you probably won’t believe me, but back home in Omaha, Nebraska, the local mall food court had a Runza restaurant (Nebraskan fast-food, give it a try some time) with a touch screen ordering system up front. That was in the early 90′s.

    Nevertheless, I agree with your post, even if I’d contend the basic tech is a little older than most people think.

  • Jay

    Karen, the idea that she isn’t a liberal hack because she’s married to Alan Greenspan is a bit silly don’t you think? Who says marrying Alan Greenspan makes you ANYTHING politically? What evidence do we have about his requirements for a wife? Most people who know Alan Greenspan know he used to pretend he was a libertarian, but when he got to the central bank he was the same bailout friendly, money printing friend of big government as everyone else in Washington. Hard to see any evidence here that Mitchell is anything but a liberal hack. Why would a conservative attempt to invent a news story trying to hurt Romney?

  • http://www.godandthemachine.com Thomas L. McDonald

    Sure, I’d believe it. The technology has existed since at least the 70s, but they didn’t start to become practical and cost-effective until the 00s. I am surprised to hear about it being in use in the 90s, because any kind of production process and support would have been outrageously cost-ineffective at that time. It makes me wonder if it was some kind pilot program.