Design For My Dimes

A couple months ago, I decided it was time to grow up. No, not to get married, have kids, or start a savings account.

Time to learn how to cook.

<DUN DUN DUN>

First on the list: buy fresh fruits, veggies, and proteins.

Next: how the f*ck do I turn on the oven?

After that: grab Band Aids for when I slice off my fingertip. Stupid knife.

So…It’s been a rocky road. (And not the yummy ice cream kind.) But I’m mayyyyybe slowly getting better.

Thing is, once I started buying more groceries, I started paying closer attention to which brands and products would make it into my basket.

For certain things that I’ve been purchasing for a long time (laundry detergent, paper towels, dish soap) I always buy the same brand. Probably because I’ve been buying that brand forever, so my brain automatically tells me to reach for those familiar logos.

But for stuff that I’d never bought – tofu, greek yogurt. olive oil, veggie burgers – grabbing those items from the shelf became a whole new experience. Which brand should I buy? We’re so inundated with choices that I couldn’t even make one. I’d stand in the yogurt aisle, slack-jawed, and probably drooling, with not a clue in the world….

Wait a sec…that one looks cute. I like how the package is shaped. And that shade of blue is super pretty. Congratulations, Muller, you’re coming home with me.

And now for tofu…OMG that one has a little thought bubble informing me that it’s extra firm. You’re extra adorable. And getting tossed into my cart extra quickly.

Finally, I meander over to the olive oil aisle.

Crap, that’s a lot of oil. Hmmm…

Hey, that logo looks nice. It’s green, and has a little plant leaf thingie. Which means it’s healthy. And the name is Simple Truth, which means I can easily trust them! Yep, Simple Truth Olive Oil, you’re the chosen one.

Basically, it all comes down to package & logo design. An aesthetically pleasing layout and color palette will catch my eye and hold my attention.

A solid design can be the difference between me pulling out my debit card, or putting my wallet away. Several months ago, I galloped into the hot sauce store by The Grove, and scanned the endless little bottles for my new spicy mealtime companion.

YUMMINESS. So much yumminess.

YUMMINESS. So much yumminess.

Most of the labels were cartoony and corny, some were plain and boring, some were outstanding, and a few were downright terrible. One particular bottle made me pause – the shoddy label looked like it’d been designed with crayon or colored pencil, the font was nearly impossible to read, and the paper was tearing at the edges. It depressed me.

Think about it – if this company took such little pride in making a first impression on their customers, would they put a lot of effort into the actual hot sauce itself? I’m dubious. Pass. I bought 6 other bottles from brands I’d never heard of, but all of them had beautiful labels.

I’m betting most people don’t even realize how much time and effort actually go into designing packages and logos. There’s a whole psychology behind it. A purpose. It’s the best way to get your product noticed when it’s drowning in a stadium of competition among grocery shelves.

Especially when there’s a sexpot smiling at me, inviting me into his arms.

Hand Me My Apron: Why I Left The “Office World” After 7 Years To Once Again Serve Steak & Cheeseburgers

“Scuse me, miss, are you sure this is decaf?”

“Can we split the check 5 ways?”

“Do you have free refills?”

“This fork looks a little dirty.”

“This doesn’t taste like Ginger Ale. Did you just mix Coke and  7up together?”

These are phrases that I rejoiced in NEVER hearing again when I quit my job waiting tables in 2006.

I started waiting tables in the summer of 2000. I’d just finished my freshman year in college (love you, Emerson!) and rather than move back to my parent’s house in North Andover, I chose to move in with a couple strangers about 10 minutes outside of Boston. Though I had no prior experience, I scored a job at Pizzeria Uno’s. Yay, deep dish pepperoni cellulite!

A few months, several shattered dishes, and countless fattening pizzas later, I got hired at a family-style Italian restaurant (love you, Vinny Testa’s!). I worked there for the next 3 years as a server, bartender, and hostess. I really developed my “I-hate-you-and-I-hope-you-choke-on-a-mushroom-but-I’m-going-to-charm-your-socks-off” demeanor at Vinny T’s.

In 2003, I packed up my belongings (along with my dignity) and moved to LA. Soon thereafter I began working at an outdoor restaurant at the LA Music Center and waited on hungry theater-goers for the next few years. I laughed, I cried, I accidentally dropped 2 of my cell phones in the toilet, and made some amazing friends during that time. But when an opportunity arose in 2006 to work at a CG postproduction house, I had to take it. I hung up my apron, threw my disgustingly stinky “serving” clothes in the trash, and vowed to never again cry about a bad gratuity.

And now, 7 years later, I’m returning to the wonderful world of waiting tables.

After a lot of deliberation, soul searching, and encouragement from a few awesome people, I decided to pursue a career as a writer. It was time to bid farewell to office life and step into a new world. Saying goodbye to my awesome cute bosses, gorgeous desk and beautiful iMac  meant that I needed new employment…and quickly. I struggled with the decision to once again wait tables. I’d been so ecstatic knowing I would never again have to ask how you want your burger cooked. And now here I am, with my tail between my legs and pen in hand, ready to take your order. Would you like a baked potato or veggies on the side?

But being a server grants me the freedom and flexibility to nurture my creative side. I can type away at my laptop at 3am (because we all know that’s when the epic inspiration hits you) and not feel bad about it. I can use all the undertipping, rude, pompous, self-entitled customers as material in my next blog post.  I can polish off a bottle of whisky with somewhat minimal guilt because hey, all the great writers were booze hounds, right? (cue a sloppy fist bump to Bukowski)

So if you’re wondering what I’m doing on Saturday night, no, I can’t hang out. I’ll be grabbing a third serving of bread for the table who ordered the medium-rare-but-kinda-sorta-well-done filet mignon whose kid is allergic to gluten and wanted their parking validated while complaining about the taste of LA tap water.

And I couldn’t be happier.

I Just Want To Make The Dude At Coffee Bean Smile

I’ve been visiting the same Coffee Bean every day for the last year. Each morning I saunter to the counter and get a large iced coffee with one sugar, one Splenda. By now, they don’t even ask what I want, they just start ringing up my order when they see me walking in. 2 of the employees are always chipper and sweet and greet me with a smile. 1 of them however…he clearly hates his job.

His name is Tom. He’s about 6’5″. He has long black hair that he stuffs under a cap, but little flyways always manage to sneak out by his ears. He has beautiful green eyes. He acknowledges my presence by muttering “g’morning” at a barely audible level.

I’ve tried winning him over with numerous tactics:

1) Being overly enthusiastic. “Yeah I’d LOVE an iced coffee!” I think he could sense my desperation.

2) Being mellow yet very polite. “Thank you, I really appreciate it,” I purred in a tone as smooth as their dark roast. He looked perplexed.

3) Acting like I just don’t care, which means grabbing my coffee as I casually shrug, trying to look super nonchalant.  I don’t think he even noticed.

4) Trying to start a conversation. “How’s your morning thus far?” “Aight,” he quietly replied as he walked away.

I want to know what he does on the weekends. I want to know what kind of music he listens to. What kind of car he drives. How much pizza he eats. How much pot he likes to smoke.

My next tactic is to start cracking jokes. If that doesn’t work, I’m planning to buy him a present.

C’mon, Tom, let’s leave this apathetic, caffeine-based, awkward-morning-interaction-dance behind us and start anew with a fresh cup of java tomorrow and top it off with a smile. I’ll even settle for a grimace at this point.

Top 8 Reasons Why Sriracha Should Hire Me As Their Brand Ambassador

Some like it hot. Some like it hotter. And then some are completely hell-bent on searing their taste buds under a tsunami of deliciousness!

I’m not sure how I lived so much of my adult life without Sriracha. Clearly my life didn’t have meaning until that first savory river of spicy lava graced my mouth with its divine tastiness.

Here’s why Sriracha should ask me to be their professional hot sauce enthusiast:

1) I will happily eat Sriracha Popcorn at every meal.

2) I will happily eat Sriracha Chocolate for dessert after every meal.

3) I don’t cook, but I will learn to just so I can try every heavenly concoction in the Sriracha Cookbook.

4) I scored junkie-status on the Sriracha Quiz!

5) Even though no one will see, I will rock Sriracha undies all the time. And if I ever get a boyfriend, he will have to rock them too.

6) I don’t wear girly shoes, but I will start to just so I can rock  some Sriracha Heels.

7) I’ll totally wear this to work every day.

8) I will hunt down those who speak ill of Sriracha, and peacefully (yet firmly) show them that they’re wrong. By gently throwing bottles of Sriracha at them.

And now if you’ll pardon me, I’m off to make a Srirach-a-rita. Cheers!

An Open Letter From My Fridge

Dear Kim,

Let me start this letter by saying that at one point, I had high hopes for you. You would go grocery shopping every Sunday, stock me with fruits and vegetables, and actually consume healthy meals. But  recently, you’ve been acting like a sad college freshman who steals bread and bananas from the Emerson campus cafeteria. Except now you’re 32 and you’re supposed to actually be able to take care of yourself like an adult.

It’s been a gradual decline into this level of pathetic-ness. Week by week, my food reserves have become more and more sparse, and now I have to call you out. My primary job is to keep water cold and to store half-stale bottles of salad dressing and hot sauce. The few times I do contain food, it’s jars of banana peppers which you greedily consume in two days. And don’t get me started on what you’ve been eating for dinner. Starburst is only considered dinner when you’re 5.

And what’s with the Red Bull? You hate Red Bull. Yet there’s always a nice tidy 4-pack chilling on my middle shelf. Watching you guzzle a can before your 7am workout is entertaining, mostly because your face contorts in a hideous wince as you realize it tastes like sugary carbonated poison.

One last thing: stop making a New Years Resolution to learn how to cook. You’ve failed at it every year since 2003. No one believes you anymore. Just own it and accept the fact that you’ll never graduate past heating up soup. And you’ve even messed that up a few times.

Love, your Kenmore