For a variety of reasons I tend to find myself around broken things a lot . I have often wondered if the experience of brokenness and the recognition of it are related to the experience of seeing oneself as surrounded by it. It does not take much skill or interest in observing one’s surroundings to recognize that brokenness is all around us. It is a lot easier to break things than it is to fix them. I don’t wish to comment too much at length about this in the abstract, because I have a specific story to share, but I would like to comment at least a little that when we look at a world of evolution in the absence of design what we find is a lot of breaking down and not a lot of building up. To create anything worthwhile and to keep it going well requires a certain amount of foresight and design but to ruin things or to let them to go seed in order to prevent worse things from happening requires no design, merely the natural workings of entropy. It is little wonder, then, that we see plenty of evolution in dysteleology, but that we do not see evolutionary processes create anything useful or beneficial without severe trade-offs.
With that as a context then, let us consider my evening. While I was reading and watching some less than stellar college basketball, around me was a scene of breakdown. Where I ate dinner, both of the soda machines in the back of the restaurant were broken, and so a large group of wait staff managed to converge at the bar where I sat and drank water. At one point four of them came at a time, which annoyed the bartender to the extent that he told people to leave the bar, but the people he told thought he was joking and did not actually leave in a particularly rapid fashion. I always find it a bit frustrating when someone says something in a polite way and isn’t taken seriously because people read the friendly tone and don’t see the irritation or frustration behind it. I know this sort of thing happens to me a good deal, and I suspect it is a fairly common problem for people to have, in that their moderate and restrained way of expressing annoyance simply does not get the point across.
One of the more interesting aspects of watching a cycle of people come up to refill their glasses of soda is the fact that I learned a bit about the labels on the soda in the bar area. For example, the R stands for the root beer and the G for cherry grenadine, one of my favorite additions to Sprite or 7-Up for a Shirley Temple, a drink I happen to greatly appreciate which others find humorous for some reason. Being an observant person, though, I tend to notice what is going on and I found it humorous that I was more aware of the soda dispenser and its labels than some of the wait staff was. Perhaps that is the sign that one is either paying too much attention to what others or doing or that one has gone to a place more often. It seemed that people were bothered by the general brokenness of what was going on, and that someone even had to deal with a car that wasn’t doing well but managed to find a ride home, which is certainly a good thing at least. Some days have far too much brokenness in them, after all.
So, what would it have taken for the soda machine not to break. Was there some kind of preventative maintenance that could have been done for it? Obviously the machine is going to be repaired now, but there will likely be some cost to the soda machine breaking and the backup soda from the bar area will likely have to be replaced because so much more soda was used than is normally the case. What are the repercussions for the service that waiters and waitresses are able to do when they have to walk additional distance to use a different soda dispenser that might take a bit longer and have fewer options (no Dr. Pepper, for example)? How long will it take for the machine to be repaired? I happen to have all of these questions, even if I won’t find the out the answers until next week at the earliest, and I suppose it is unusual that I would think about problems that don’t even directly involve me. I was drinking my water and doing my best to stay hydrated while reading, and it was and is no business of mine at all, except that I cannot help but notice what is going on around me even if it is not my business.
 See, for example: