I can no longer eat grilled cheese sandwiches. With the butter, thick bread and especially the cheese, they have more fat that I’m allowed. But for years I loved them. There were few combinations more welcome to me than grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup.
When I was kid, it was easy to find grilled cheese sandwiches. All diners had them. After a while, I came to search menus for them in vain. As they were cheap, and perhaps not enough people still ate them, they were not considered a money maker for restaurants. I had to take my hat off to Friendly’s for being one of the few places that still sold them.
Much of marketing is now like that. I am not always an early riser, which most often closes off McDonald’s breakfasts to me. McDonald’s stops its breakfasts at 10:30 a.m. It must figure that the vast majority of people will eat breakfast before that time.
Much of retailing is also conducted on similar majority, or curve, notions. Being that I am a large guy, I have been frustrated by the few choices available for men’s suits in large sizes. Women have long had a similar problem. Now a large number of retailers cater not merely to smaller people, but to the young as well. They do not reckon that the young eventually become older.
Even our schools work on curve theories. They gear their educational programs only to the most typical students. As I was atypical in my interests, I was, throughout childhood, bored by what my schools had to offer.
Eventually I’ve worked my way out of most of the problems caused by being an atypical person. I stayed in school long enough to get my degrees, and gave up the grilled cheese sandwich. I found other places than McDonald’s where I could eat pancakes. I may someday even find a variety of suits available at my height.
But the policies of food chains, retailers, clothing designers, auto makers, film studios, schools, social workers, governmental institutions and cultural societies that aim for limited groups of people cumulatively have a large negative impact on our society. For most of us are atypical in one way or other. We will not begin to truly tap our potential as a species until everyone is welcome.