Real Managers Don’t Use Computers

Trading Tongues with Tweety
Resumes Gone Wrong

Purchasing for Food Service Managers coverPurchasing for Food Service Managers
(2nd ed.)
Warfel and Cremer
1990

Submitter: I work at a Midwestern academic library. We are in the process of doing the first systematic, top-to-bottom weed at 25 years — probably more. Weeding is so overdue that our first threshold was to consider items which had not circulated in 15 years, and even that covered about half the collection. Following that, the librarian assigned to the section is browsing the stacks for worn, dated, ugly, etc., as candidates for replacement or further culling. Needless to say, we are finding some real gems.

This one surprised me because it had actually circulated in 2011, despite its 1990 copyright, so I figured it warranted a closer look.  The book literally fell open to page 199, where it boldly declared “Real Managers Don’t Use Computer Terminals.”

‘Nuff said.  It’s gone.

Holly: It’s a pretty obvious weeder, for sure. Food service management relies on computers for efficiency. Point of sale systems are pretty complex these days. That whole “Real Managers Don’t Use Computer Terminals” article is ridiculous by today’s standards. It also says that real women don’t pump gas.

The real question, though, is why did they put the barcode right over the title? There’s all kinds of gray space to the right! Pet peeve.

Real Managers Don't Use Computer Terminals

11 comments

  1. Amazing that these managers were proudly flaunting their luddite status as a positive circa the 1990 publication date. That seems rather late to be dismissive of the value of a personal computer. I would love to see if/when these people became converts and, if not, if it ultimately impacted their careers. They’re probably long retired by now, though (general searches didn’t turn anything up for me).

    1. The office where I worked in 1990 had only a couple of shared computers for the entire staff. It was a big deal when we started getting individual computers, which were phased in during the early 1990s. We didn’t have email or internet access until the mid 1990s. Our payroll system continued to be largely paper-based for several more years.

      Luddites weren’t out of place in 1990, but they wouldn’t even get an interview nowadays, since everything including the hiring process is computer-based!

  2. Wow. That blurb by Jack Falvey is ridiculous, as are the notes regarding Moritz and Anderson. They’d be laughed out of the office.

  3. For the record, the two blurbs–“Real men don’t eat quiche; Real women don’t pump gas”–were book titles of best-selling humor books from 1982, the second a parodying response to the first’s parodying notions of “real masculinity.” Anyone reading that book ca. 1991 that wasn’t hiding in a cave or Jack Benny’s safe for a decade previously would have caught on to the references, and the whole “Real _______ don’t _______” wave of the 1980s. Neither of those quips were supposed to be taken seriously. I can’t tell, without going to page 200, whether this section continued as a serious defense of managers not using terminals, or segued into a mockery of managers who refuse to use such terminals!

    The fact that Holly doesn’t get the references, though, is further proof that this book is woefully outdated.

    1. I did not know about those, but then again, I do hide in caves. As to the latter one, “Real Jerseyans don’t pump gas” is the true statement.

    2. The article is available on “Business Source Premier,” through EBSCOhost. It was first published in 1983, in “Marketing News.” It certainly is referencing the sources you mention, but it is NOT a mockery of managers. Here are some great samples from later in the text:
      “Top managers must learn to cultivate ignorance. The higher you go, the less you really know about what is actually going on.”
      “You don’t have to learn to type. The alpha-numeric keyboard is on its way out.”
      “Relax, be patient, and secure in your ignorance.”
      He also quotes an expert who says that computers in elementary schools are bad, because they create a “psychological distancing from reality.”

  4. Note however that the main part of the text is about using computers.

    Anyway, it is almost certainly both outdated and irrelevant.

  5. My father, who died in 2013 at 94, believed that real managers didn’t use computers. He thought of them as something like typewriters, even though he kind of knew that they did a lot more. For a while, he owned a travel agency, and all the reservations were done via SABRE — but it took a keyboard to do it, so clearly it was clerical work, not managerial.

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