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Kymberlie Ingalls is native to the Bay Area in California. She is a pioneer in blogging, having self-published online since 1997. Her style is loose, experimental, and a journey in stream of consciousness. Works include personal essay, prose, short fictional stories, and a memoir in progress. Thank you for taking a moment of your time to visit. Beware of the occasional falling opinions. For editing services: http://www.kymberlieingalls.com/p/editing-services.html

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The P.F. Chang's Catalyst

Why must we fix what ain't broken? 

As consumers, we come to rely on familiarity.  Retailers, restauranteurs and celebrities alike all work their asses off to give us familiarity.  Where is the line of contempt?  We all bitch about fast food and its hazards to our health, but the number of people I see in the lines there don't add up with the complaints.  Walmart is the temple of evil, yet the crowds spilling about the aisles aren't only the local rednecks.  Amazon is an obscenity on the lips of many a writer and a bookseller both, yet the empire grows.

So, after getting us hooked on a product or brand, why the need for change?

There's a McDonald's in my neighborhood that had looked the same since I was a kid.  It's recently, after decades of being a familiar sight on my drive home, been remodeled into some sort of modern Starbucksy type structure.  Ugh.  Taco Bell is still pushing their fast-paced menu and 90s purple/blue motif, but I'd rather see a faux mission looking building with the big bell atop, ready to be gonged upon the consumption of a delicious crispy taco. 

My husband, a marketing expert, and I differ on this debate.  I know he is correct in his argument that change is necessary to stay fresh in the minds of consumers, especially the oh-so-desired young buying market, but I'm a habitual creature who returns more, and as I grow older with more money to spend, to partake of a favorite dish or a particular product.  I've stayed with Tivo, despite my technological grievances last year, because their DVR is user-friendly.  All of my gadgets are Apple, not because I'm a Mac fanatic, but for the same reason - the ease of use.  Most of my wardrobe comes from one of two stores because of the million choices out there, they are reliable and the clothes hold up to my washing machine.  These things matter.

I love eating out, much to the detriment of our budget.  I do so just about every day, and love to try new places, and definitely love to support independents when I can, but chains offer a reliability that I find comforting.  It's quite the upheaval when a favorite menu item suddenly disappears.  I'd love to sit in on the marketing panels and focus groups who decided that offering the McRib for a month out of the year would rake in more money than if they just offered it all year long.  Is there an actual season for pressed pork patties that only comes around in November? 

Many an afternoon or evening in this past year have been spent at P.F. Changs, an Asian fusion national chain with a lively atmosphere and, at my location, and extremely friendly staff.  Everyone has a hello and never seem to complain when I occupy the end of the bar for hours with my ginormous laptop and scattered papers.  I half expect to hear a rousing chorus of "Norm!" when I walk in the door.

I listen to the conversations, and yes even find interest in what people order.  I'm one of those that will change every dish on a menu to suit my mood of the day, but find inspiration in what others try and their likes or dislikes.  This is why I was immensely surprised at the recent changes that eliminated several items from their catalogue, because they were items that were consistent favorties among the patrons.  I have been traumatized at the loss of the lemongrass chicken dumplings myself.  In a sea of fanciful, rainbow-like foods, it was simple in its taste and helped offset the richness of other dishes. 

Alas, they are gone.

And I have found nothing to replace them as favorites.  The result?  Hardly the desired of the marketing execs, I'm sure.  I simply don't order any appetizers anymore.  Take that, Fancy Pants. 

I'm tired of losing my favorites, tired of being suckered in and dumped on the curb with other bygones.  Maybe I'm the minority.  Maybe others simply forget and move on, but I am a loyalist.  A loyalist with a wallet, and a platform

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