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Common Foodsense: Cellular Amplification



I just got a note in my inbox advertising a new “cellular amplifier.” OK, I thought, this must be what they’re calling steroids these days. I was a bit confused about why anyone would mistake me for a bodybuilder, but I was flattered. Go ahead, amplify my cells. At the risk of an eternity of pop-up ads from the beefcake empire of Joe Wieder, I opened the message.

And it was about cellphones. For crying out loud.

After my initial disappointment, I read the press release to find out why they were badgering an elderly cook. Having once attended the NRA show with a press pass—a mistake which I gather was shared with PR professionals nationwide—I am assumed to have an abiding interest in the Texas Applebee’s Wing Challenge, dry snacks packaging solutions, Ferraro’s late-night menu in Las Vegas, and refrigerant buyback programs. My inbox is filled with breathless announcements of the rebranding of milk, the inexorability of the hot dog, and the newest edition of the millennial/boomer dictionary. All sent using my first name. If you look up “surname” in the first section of the M/B dictionary, it says “Family name; used only by the post office and snooty professors who don’t grade on a curve.” I tend to delete these missives without bothering to read them, but I can’t quite bring myself to block ‘em—it gives me a kick to see how broadly the world of foodservice is construed, and how seldom PR people check up on the folks to whom they send this stuff. Even if their pet algorithms do know me by name, they obviously haven’t read enough of my columns to know how seldom I bother with facts.

Not that I object to facts, as a rule; I just don’t pass them on unadorned. The cellular amplifier, for example, consists of three outdoor antennae which receive signals from multiple cell towers and amplify them, offering nice clean coverage for your restaurant patrons so they’ll never be unconnected and never have to talk with one another. I find the idea appalling. I like the idea of installing jamming equipment a bit better: you are here, and you may as well look around, because no one who is not here can reach you, nor you them. Alas, while this equipment is readily available, using it is not quite legal.

But here I am displaying my own prejudices, which wilt in the bright sun of potential profit. I feel sure that were I to find myself operating a downtown lunch spot with a clientele of the happily wired and highly remunerated, I would do what was necessary to smooth the wrinkles from their digital magic carpets. I don’t like liver, but I make a heck of a paté. And while your need to be connected all the time is foreign to me, I’ll buy a dictionary to help learn the language. Or download it, since, you know. Connected. 

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