Over all the years my wife and I have been married one thing has remained constant, I hate Brussel sprouts. I’ve eaten stuff all over the world but nothing that tastes as bad as those little green balls of cabbage. When the marriage was still young my wife tried serving them to me in a number of ways. Finally she played the guilt card, “if you love me you’ll eat them.” I tried but no matter how you disguise them, they literally make me gag.

I never understood my wife’s obsession with making me eat Brussel sprouts. I went so far as checking her finances to verify that did not secretly own a secret Brussel sprout farm. Fortunately my wife finally accepted the inevitable and stopped serving them to me.

Brussel Sprouts

Brussel Sprouts

Okay we’ve established a constant in my food preference, I hate Brussel sprouts. How about other foods and how does this tie to me being an engineer? My wife is constantly being surprised by my suggestions for dinner or selections I make when dining out. Well, the black pudding in Scotland was a mistake, but I really do have reasons for my apparent inconsistencies.

I need to add one more piece of data before I give you the big picture. When my wife and I were married our pre-nupts were simple. She would clean all the horse stalls and I would wash all the dishes. I admit I was naive. As a bachelor my usage of dishes was minimal, I had no clue what it took to make a simple meal.

At this point, I’m required to deny there was a hearing to revoke my man card because of this premarital agreement. Suffice to say I still have my card with only three years of probation left. I am however, required to tell all young men considering marriage that the dish washing clause is an extremely bad option.

Putting that behind me, like a true engineer my food preferences are based on efficiency. How much time does it take to eat the food? Can I eat it with one hand and use the other to control my mouse? How much clean up in involved in this particular food group?

There are certain foods that I will order in a restaurant and yet tell my wife I don’t want them for dinner. I’ve run the numbers and the total inconvenience factor of the food at home far outweighs the wife’s superior cooking.

There are other factors at play here too. I’ve discovered it’s considered rude to read a novel on my phone while eating with my wife at a restaurant. Over time I’ve learned that it’s far better for my home life if I pay careful attention to this rule. However, by following this accepted social behavior, eating at restaurant frees me to order food that previously had too high an inconvenience factor. Having one hand free no longer matters.

Even when I’m out there are foods that still fall short in the taste vs. eating efficiency. I love crab cakes but I will seldom eat crab because the efficiency factor is too low.

Least you start to consider me too much of a social troll, there is also the appearance factor. Ribs, piled high with sauce are a great food. Having a face and shirt splattered with sauce has a very low social appeal. Ribs are constrained to the group of foods that must be eaten at home.

Having shared this with you, I also have to tell you that these factors are all processed at the subconscious level. I don’t draw up a decision tree to make my dinner choices. I don’t whip out the spreadsheet on my phone and run the numbers to decide on my menu choice. It’s taken me many years and writing this post to realize that my decisions are based on these factors.

What does this have to do with your engineer? Engineers are trained to always make their choices on a logical basis. Often we don’t even realize the factors our decisions are based on. When your engineer seems to be making irrational decisions, look closer. Understand what factors they consider and how they scale those parameters. Are they really important to the decision or only minor contributors?

Knowing the details contributing to these decisions can often help you manipulate the data and drive the decisions in the direction you want. If you’re careful, you might be able to accomplish all this without your engineer knowing why the two of you always seem to agree. Maybe it’s fate.

A final word of caution. Armed with the greater understanding that writing this post gave me, I re-evaluated my position on Brussel sprouts. They can be cooked with very little mess, I can eat them and keep one hand free, there’s no additional work involved before I can consume them, all of these are major factors in my culinary decisions. It’s obvious I failed to discuss one decision contributor, taste. No matter how much the data can be manipulated, sometimes it comes down to one simple factor. It’s still a constant, I really hate Brussel sprouts.

© 2014 – 2019, Byron Seastrunk. All rights reserved.