My children had a favourite bedtime story called Lazy Tok. The tale features the titular heroine, who is fantastically greedy as well as idle. She sits beside a tree and orders a magical walking basket to deliver food to her, because she is far too lazy to get it for herself. The basket complies by regularly stealing food from shoppers at the local market. This system works for a while but then Tok becomes so very lazy she can’t even be bothered to pick the food out of the magic basket, and asks it to tip the food directly into her mouth. All goes well, until the infuriated shoppers pile the basket with insects, stinging ants and the sort of horror animals currently featured on TV reality shows. Which the dutiful basket then brings to Tok and empties all over her. At this juncture, my children would scream with delight, envisaging the horror, and glorying in Lazy Tok’s suitable punishment.
When I heard about a new app from Wetherspoon called Order and Pay, I was reminded of Lazy Tok. Order and Pay allows customers to order food and drink from a table at the eponymous pub without even looking up and saluting a fellow human being, let alone fighting at the bar for service. People are just so lazy, you think. But then, without wanting to sound remotely Tok-ish, I realised it could be a fantastic invention.
I hate pubs: one of the reasons they are so grim in my view is that they are so often not fit for purpose, namely as a comfortable place in which to drink or eat in a relaxing manner. Typically you arrive at a pub and spot somewhere nice to sit, but before you can claim it, you are first doomed to stand at a smelly, wet, noisy bar, yelling over people nursing halves of lager, and pathetically waving your tenner, credit card or, frankly, underwear in order that some diffident hipster behind the bar will deign to notice you. When you are at last acknowledged and give your order, the hipster disappears for about 40 minutes. Eventually your drinks arrive before you sans tray, which means that if you have ordered more than two items, you are fated to spend the next 10 minutes weaving around, a bunch of slippery, heavy glassware at the tips of your fingers, searching for a table because the one you originally spotted has gone. You end up lunging with your expensive and fragile cargo towards some sort of plinth which is already swimming in beer, coffee dregs and crisp packets. At which point one of your party brightly suggests going to sit outside. In the UK. In March. Cheers.
Now, were you to arrive with Order and Pay in your arsenal, all of this business is avoided. You simply tip up, scope the joint for a good table and commandeer it. No bar business. No red wine over your cuffs. You don’t have to spend hours waving vainly at a waiter in order for them to stop chatting and give you a menu. You just simply bung your order down. Food and drink appears. No time is wasted in the horror of waiting for food. Deep joy. You don’t even have to wait for a waiter to turn up and collect the bill. Does this app mean the death of the waiter? Well, if so, that’s hardly a disaster. Waiting at table is not a British speciality, because nobody takes it seriously. I know, I’ve been a waitress. Anyone who has ever eaten at even a modest café in the States knows what really brilliant service is, and we definitely don’t have it here. Order and Pay is absolutely my style of app. Who knows, it might even make me consider entering a ‘Spoons for the first time in my life.