“Don’t mess with my food,” he said to us, rising from the table, after carefully arranging his burger and fries* on his way to the bathroom.
We were all in high school, and a pretty mature group of kids all things considered. But that “don’t mess with my food” was a violation of both friendship and the United States judicial system. We were being accused of a crime we didn’t commit! And by someone whom we’d never commit it upon!
So as soon as that bathroom door closed, without a word exchanged between us, we descended upon his lunch in tacit tribal collusion, smashing fries and burger flesh into our mouths; not for sake of hunger, but purely for the sport of it. To enjoy the flavor would have satisfied his accusations of our character. To simply consume the food with reckless abandon would send a message.
When he returned, he saw the ketchup-stained wrappers cradling the crumbs of his worst fears. We all chipped in to buy him another lunch, but it wasn’t the same for him, or for any of us.
15 years later, McDonald’s Canada has finally built a solution. It calls it the Fry Defender. It’s a new feature in its iOS and Android apps that turns your phone into a motion sensor (assumably via the camera and light sensors integrated in the hardware). You activate the defender, set it by your food, and if someone reaches for it, BUSTED! A loud alarm goes off. One might even hear it from the urinal.
It’s a fun promotion, and actually a pretty clever bit of interaction design hacking, too. Just don’t try this stunt on me. Because if you decide you can’t trust me enough to leave me with your french fries, why would you ever be so bold as to leave me with your phone? I will (and can) eat it.
*Seriously though, who leaves their fresh french fries to use the bathroom? That first minute is critical crispy fry period. You can’t just get that back.