While standing on a very crowded lightrail train headed home (yes ridership is undeniably strong for the starter set length of track) I was happy to see that next to me was a seated post-work commuter cracking open a new issue of the The Stranger (a free weekly alternative editiorial publication seemingly without an corporate oversight or constraint, which is widely read by Seattlites). It was so crowded on the train that was pressed against the vertical grab bar and essentially hanging over the shoulder of the ponytailed Amazon programming engineer (definitely a stereotyping assumption of employment) so that I could read every word on the pages of The Stranger. I hadn’t read the issue yet and if I were to have held a paper it would have been in the faces of other passagers. It was unspoken but I thought that my ponytailed friend knew that we would be reading together. As the train left the University stop in the tunnel we started with the first pages of tattoo parlor, strip club and bar ads, then after a brief visual scan of the vice offerings we began flipping through the pages at a very regular pace. Scan all of the pictures and article titles giving interesting pictures a second look then on to the next page. “Wait that article about the meth pipe alternative to needle exchange would be worth reading at least a few paragraphs,or, oh, now we have to give the article about the changes to how Seattle will vote for city council members a stop and at least skim.” was franticly saying to the ponytail guy, in my head, as he flipped through the meat of the issue. Just as I was about to give up on this reading partnership, he found something worth taking the time to investigate further. “The Mereoric Rise of Totchos; The Tater Tot-Nachos Hybrid Is Showing Up on Menus All Over Town-Here’s What You Need to Know” was the title over a very large picture of an off-white thick diner plate covered with a Mt. Rainier of golden tater tots, melted cheddar cheese, greasy bacon pieces, diced green onions and an ice cream scoop size summit of sour cream. I’m not sure if it looks like something you should eat. “Wait are you folding the paper from two page scan to one page serious read?”, I mentally sarcastically exclaimed. “That’s it, this is just not going to work”, I pouted, my final mental words, to Ponytail Guy. I decided to avert my eyes from his paper and reflect on my thoughts, right after finding out which fine establishments were serving Totchos, just in case I need to get some.
Ponytail Guy is a Pemco insurance ad type guy; just like us a little different, but for the time left on the train I decided to classify him as the average person. He doesn’t want to spend his free time thinking or worrying about issues like voting or drug addicts along 3rd Ave. He just wants to find out more about Totcho history and where he can go for cheddar or queso options. He doesn’t feel like he can do anything about any issues and he’s not angry about anything. Amazon pays pretty well and he can get Totchos anytime he wants at several nearby locations. He can watch anything he wants tonight on Netflix and tomorrow morning Starbucks will be waiting for him with a nice warm cup of He Don’t Give a @#$%. Why should he care about stuff that doesn’t have to concern him, work is boring and life is short. How can issues like Carbon Efficiency be metaphorically covered in melted cheese, bacon, green onions and sour cream? Tater tots alone are boring and would not have gotten Ponytail Guy’s attention. It is clearly all the “Fixins” that are giving the tater tots the spot light. “Fixins” add time and expense to the equation but they add exponential value to the tater tots. The “Fixins” for Carbon Efficiency could be cool architecture, high speed trains, clean breathable air in the future and Teslas. We could put all the “Fixins” on the Carbon Efficiency story and bring a Totchos type awareness to the people. A Taco Bell strength marketing campaign will need to follow to make sure they know where to get it and what their options are.
Maybe Ponytail Guy was riding the lightrail with me because he got rid of his car. He could work for Greenpeace, is on his way home to a very well insulated urban infill micro-apartment, helps homeless drug addicts on the weekend and already decided to vote for Mike O’brien as well as two other non-incumbants. In that case he deserves to just think about Totchos and Netflix for an evening. In fact I feel like I now owe him a plate of Totchos.