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First of all, how do you even become a food critic?  How is that even a job?  I have a job.  I work as a sales associate at a nationwide department store, and it’s just as glamorous as it sounds.  By the fitting room in my department, we have a flat-screen TV that I’m not sure if we’re allowed to touch.  It’s placed out of reach and has no remote.  Perhaps those are indicators.  All the same, I change the channel with the tip of plastic shirt hanger, in plain sight of the security cameras.  So far, no one has said a thing.

On this TV we have a few choices of what to watch: the news, the Food Network, and a bunch of blank screens that claim to be channels but only show “Direct TV” in blue text crawling from one end of the frame to the other.  At my job, I’m expected to create a fun and uplifting experience for our shoppers.  I’ve decided that the news—for the most part—does a good job of counteracting any attempt to add a little magic to people’s shopping experiences.  And so, I stand up on my tiptoes, reaching out with the hanger, and change the channel to the Food Network.

For some reason, there only seem to be two shows on the Food Network whenever I’m at work: either “Chopped” or “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.”

Oh. God.

Two torturous experiences, both different, and yet the same in one way.

People are being paid to eat on TV.  And I get to watch them.  In fleeting glances while removing discarded clothing from the dressing rooms.  My stomach gurgling.  Judges tasting desserts—they sit in designer clothing that would squeeze the very life out of my paycheck.  Guy Fieri takes a monstrous bite out of a steaming Philly cheese steak, and his eyes roll back.  “Oh Godff…” he moans.  I salivate.  I want more money.  And I want some good doggone food.

Several things have gone through my mind as I’ve listened to “Chopped” judges give feedback such as, “The tarragon was unsurprising on this fish” and “I’ve had so much French toast that I’ve become jaded.”  Jaded?  With French toast?  Sir.  YOU ARE BEING PAID TO EAT.

PAID.  TO.  EAT.

Alright, alright, I know it’s a judge’s job to judge.  They have to be critical, or else there is no show.  But maybe the fact that there is a show at all is what’s ridiculous.  How is it that people arrive at a position in life where they’re paid to eat?  The rest of us pay to eat—these people have this ingeniously arranged backwards.  They’re paid to do something necessary.  Not to be crass, but will there be a day when someone might be paid to use a restroom and judge the experience?  “I found the Febreze in the air to be sweet, but a little overpowering.  The stall was deep, with a hanger for my purse, which I always like.  However it was a little narrow, and my right knee kept bumping into the toilet paper dispenser.  And on that note, I found the toilet paper itself very insubstantial and disappointing.  I’d find better toilet paper at a 7-Eleven.”

Hey, I think I’m pretty good at this.  Now I just have to find a way to get paid for it.

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