protection // communication


As I tuck into my breakfast in small-town Yunnan, the street goes through the rhythm of its daily commute. Passersby are shrouded in steam from the strategically-placed dumpling cookers out front of the restaurant, with some sufficiently seduced by the meat-and-bread-scented haze to step inside. Throughout, the TV-dictated soundtrack is switched by both the chef and various customers between a blood-soaked battle scene in an Imperial China costume drama, an unabashedly opinionated news’ commentator’s opinions on neighboring countries’ litany of violations of China’s territorial integrity, and, of course, the trials and tribulations of what may well be China’s favorite animated farm animal. To keep from being damaged when grabbed with dirty, wet, and/or flour-coated hands, the TV remote has been swathed in plastic bags – the same used to wrap the establishment’s dumplings for take-out.


Nearby, written in red upon the board of wood separating the food preparation area from the closest table, are throwbacks to a time when physically recording phone numbers was a necessity instead of a failsafe measure. These days, it would take a notably unique set of failures to necessitate referring to this written record. Listed, from right to left (with no apparent order?), are the numbers to call for ordering plastic bags, coal, and chicken eggs, with the final number on the left being someone’s personal number. What would be a comparable set of numbers for your employer’s supply chain, and with what means would you record them to guarantee someone knowing when they really need to know? More notably, what would happen if one of those things ran out in your context, and to what lengths would you(r superiors) be willing to go to ensure that that never occurred?

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