Welcome to the feast

Welcome to the feast

I’m certain many of you have experienced the allure of a buffet — that irresistible combination of unlimited food and instant gratification. I reminisce about the days when my favorite pizza shop offered a salad bar. The challenge was in the rule of filling just one bowl, yet there was no cap on the creativity to cram as much as possible into that solitary vessel.

Among us students, we embarked on a quest to devise the optimal strategy for maximizing our bounty. Occasionally, a single bowl yielded enough sustenance for four of us. However, this approach often resulted in peculiar concoctions like raspberry cheesecake with BBQ sauce, pork loin alongside whipped cream, or balsamic vinegar mixed with a vanilla cupcake. It was chaotic. Though we had an abundance of food, the flavors clashed and left much to be desired. Yet, it was economical and expedited our culinary adventures.

Alternatively, one could opt for a refined dining experience. Picture yourself seated at a chic establishment, perusing a menu adorned with French culinary terms, many of which remain a mystery. Here, a knowledgeable waiter, or should I say, garçon, guides you through the intricacies of the menu, recommending dishes tailored to your preferences. You meticulously select your appetizer, starter, main course, and dessert, each prepared with meticulous attention, albeit with a wait time of 40 to 50 minutes. It’s a lavish affair — the presentation is impeccable, the flavors exquisite, and you’re willing to splurge, not forgetting to generously tip the garçon.

Welcome to the realm of Passenger Service System (PSS) selection.

The buffet represents the vast expanse of choices. It’s visually appealing, offering a plethora of options, perhaps more than you could ever desire. Armed with an empty plate, you meticulously assemble your feast. Initially, you attempt to arrange everything neatly, only to succumb to the inevitable chaos as the cheesecake collides with the BBQ sauce. Yet, amidst the mess, you have everything you need.

The chef may even tempt you with an upgrade or a new addition to the broccoli salad, conveniently positioned beneath the French toast. You rearrange, but the chaos persists, as the BBQ sauce continues to cascade onto the cheesecake and the freshly added broccoli salad. It’s a jumble. Despite being a PSS, it’s disorganized, overrun with just-in-time additions, squeezed onto available spaces, even atop a precarious tower of chicken wings, which you frantically stabilize with your right finger to prevent disaster.

With time, the allure of the PSS wanes. It fulfills its function, complete with hardcoded features tailored to specific preferences (albeit painfully). And yet, the provider keeps piling on more BBQ sauce, i.e., additional features, further cluttering the experience.

And what about the extravagant restaurant with its top-tier selections and the consultant who dictates your choices before vanishing into the ether? It’s high maintenance, but if the table is spacious enough, you can always add more plates, albeit at an extra cost.

In my opinion, the ideal approach lies somewhere in between. Embrace the buffet, but exercise restraint. Return for seconds if necessary, ensuring the buffet offers a comprehensive array of options without overwhelming your plate. And please, resist the urge to mix your cheesecake with balsamic vinegar.

Do you truly need a waiter to handhold you through the menu? Most likely not. Unless you find yourself in the wrong restaurant or plagued by indecision. Make your selections beforehand, and revel in the experience of your chosen PSS.

Enjoy your feast.

 

Roland Heller

Managing Director