So, the other night I am browsing my local drug store, killing some time as I wait for the pizza I ordered at my favorite pizza joint in the same strip mall. I spot a DVD for sale—an old movie I have been looking to add to my collection. And it’s only $2.99. With a smile on my face I head to the counter to make my purchase expecting the quintessential consumer experience: deep discount pricing on proven technology.

Instead, when I get to the checkout, the cashier—a young man maybe 17- or 18-years-old—scoffs at me. It wasn’t overt or, I believe, intentional, or even meant to be rude. We’ve all heard it. It’s that low, throaty sound that expresses derision or disapproval with a thought or action.

Unable to ignore his scoff, I said, with a smile and in his generation’s vernacular, “What?” He said, “You know, you can get this on the Internet for free. You can get all movies on the Internet for free.” I assumed he was talking about Netflix and the like, but before I could tell him how my love of films leans more toward a collector’s mentality, he said, “No, no. I mean you can watch anything, anytime on the Internet. I was watching the Sixers (The National Basketball Association’s Philadelphia 76ers) just now, streaming on the Net!” I continued my inquiry by asking, “You watched a live sporting event for free?” His response was, “Yeah. Basketball, UFC. I watch them all the time for free.”

Although that is where the conversation ended, as I finished my purchase and made my way to pick up my pizza, the content of my exchange with the cashier lingered. One of my first thoughts, perhaps yours as well, was, “That kid’s a thief!” The other possibility is that he tends to exaggerate. What ultimately bewildered me is a retail employee who does their best to discourage a customer from making a purchase. I’m sure his bosses would not have enjoyed our exchange. Particularly if I would have said, “You’re right, kid. I don’t need to buy this DVD!” Probably should have made the same decision regarding the pizza and opted for a low-cal salad.

However, what this young man was describing, hyperbole perhaps aside, was “cutting the cord.” It’s a term that has become synonymous with consumers forgoing cable television services in favor of new, Internet technologies, such as Roku, Netflix, Amazon Fire TV, and Sling TV, that tout—much like my cashier friend—the ability to watch thousands of movies and television shows, anytime, at the click of a button. I find it analogous to the decline in the number of households with a telephone land line, now that most, if not all, consumers enjoy cell phones. Like cell phones, some consumers may lag behind technology until they are comfortable that it is fully functional, reliable, and/or affordable. I mean, I’m still buying DVDs and being scoffed at by the next generation.

This month’s Quality inspires us to “get off the bench” by exploring new techniques in dynamic measurement uncertainties and green manufacturing.

As always, enjoy and thanks for reading!

Darryl Seland, Editorial Director