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Good news: I like my job better than I did. Thursday wasn't fabulous, Friday didn't start particularly well, but I had some wonderful conversations with customers and feel much better about my job than I did. Next weekend the National Restaurant Association is hosting a trade show down in Chicago. Everytime I see NRA my brain reads National Rifle Association so that's been interesting, I don't know how long it will take me before I stop conflating the two. I think I mentioned that one of the women I work with eats a lot of salads, another woman was telling me about a salad she makes that is very filling (I had been complaining of hunger after a skimpy salad on Thursday), this led to a conversation about the Flat Belly Diet. Most of the time I think diets are fads and almost any calorie cutting program is going to help you lose some weight, but this time I went in a different direction. I thought to myself, I need to do something, having a partner who will be your weight loss and fitness buddy can really help motivate another, and I knew that almost any diet book can be found at the thrift store unless it's so new it hasn't hit their shelves yet. Lo and behold I found both the hardcover version and the soft cover one which she said has something the larger one doesn't (whatever that is escapes me at the moment...).

What happens next is something I've been hearing about in The Power of Habit which I am still listening to when I drive. My willpower broke down. After purchasing a larger cooler style insulated bag to fill with foods for Chicago, I tried to locate the covered bowl I had found at another Wal-Mart. This leak proof bowl is the perfect size for salads and other foods. Don't ask me why this is, but in my mind some foods belong in round containers while others go into square or rectangular ones. I tend to put entree type meals into rectangular containers, and things that pack like rice into squares so I can slice off a strip when I need one. Years ago my inlaws gave me stacking interlocking containers for Christmas, I was ungrateful at the time, those things were an introduction to the world of locking lid containers with a silicone edge, and they have changed my world. The other day the other sales person told me I was compulsive. I bristled at this when she said it, but there's more than a degree of truth in that statement. I probably could have used the things I have at home to go on my new 'diet'. So far I'm optimistic. The author has a recipe for Sassy Water which is a mixture of mint, cucumber, lemon, and ginger. I like it less than I did and will search for ways to switch it up soon.

My local Target is just across the highway from Wal-Mart. I've been listening to how they have used statistics to determine which women may be pregnant and that has been a fascinating dive into the power of capitalism. The cashier had told me I should just drive to the next Wal-Mart to find more of the salad dishes I just had to have. Fortunately for me I saw Target, realized I could probably get the exact same dishes (or something similar) and drove across the street. In addition to three new bowls I bought another resistance ball. I used one at a previous job and felt as if it helped my back so I'm hoping my new boss will let me bring mine in, if not, I will either have two, or take one back. Once upon a time we had three and that was perfect because the girls and I sat there bouncing together and now I'm sad I decided I didn't have room for them when I moved even though they took up room in my efficiency sized apartment. Fortunately they are not terribly expensive so I could always invest in more, but I digress. I have three snack towers that are comprised of successively larger (or smaller) containers that snack and lock together. There is nothing wrong with any of them, I rarely use them, but I bought a fourth in black because I wanted it. 

By the time I got to the thrift store my willpower had further eroded. Rather than grab the book I wanted and leave, I thought that I should look around for the paperback even though I was pretty sure I didn't need it to follow this diet. I don't regret buying it because it has a diary/journal section that I think will be helpful, hint - you may see that here soon since the book is so small I can't imagine being able to actually write in it with a great deal of accuracy. I could have taken both of those books up to the register, but I lingered among the aisles, seduced by elderly copies of Foods That Made Wisconsin Famous! and a cookbook that explained numerous things one could do with beer. By the time I was ready to go I had a stack of books in my arms and had almost bought my daughter a backpack and floral computer sleeve. I was once again reminded that I would really like an ironing board, and picked up a textured bath rug because it was inexpensive and I couldn't bring myself to plunk down my hard earned cash on a new one just because it happened to be the color I really wanted. It remains to be seen if I return to the store for that. I probably will and I'm okay with that because my bathroom is large enough for two rugs.

I had a chat with the guy who checked me out at Marshalls. I found a set of gray microfiber cloths like the ones I had previously and saved myself a dollar by checking the list of materials on the gray ones against the ones that boasted they were made from bamboo. Both had identical ingredients and I liked the gray ones better so I went ahead with the earth destroying squares rather than the allegedly more environmentally friendly ones. I have friends and relatives who don't care for the microfiber cloths the way that I do. Personally I think they are great, but most are too large for my hands which is why I prefer the ones I found. Happy dance time! In less impressive news I have not been very good about my Pilates videos, but I am optimistic and determined to get back on track, hopefully today. Not to get too personal, but I have a weird pain that won't go away that is keeping me from completing the video at the moment. This isn't an exuse for any of the other days, but I don't want to be too hard on myself either. Starting a new job is stressful even when it goes well and mine hasn't been super fabulous even though I think it will ultimately be something I like better and am great at. 

As long as I'm on the subject of my job I might as well discuss some of that here. One might wonder what goes into designing, planning, and engineering a menu, if not, you can feel free to skip this next section. One thing I was worried about is not knowing the difference between certain types of menus, perhaps I will never be an ace when it comes to that, but a skill I have that apparently is rare and invaluable when it comes to this type of thing is being able to visualize what others are talking about when they start telling me about what their dream menu would look like. Everything we do is custom so you can't just call in and request a hotel directory that matches so and so establishment. We can make that for you if the materials are still available, but no two projects are ever identical. I wonder if there is a certain type of irony in selling menus when I almost never go out to eat or order from online sites, but here we are. Even though I may not possess many of the technical skills, I know how to encourage and believe in others, it's almost like I can read minds when others are talking (I'm exaggerating obviously, but work with me), more often than not I feel as if the person on the other end of the line are in agreement about what would work well for a certain establishment.

Yesterday I had one of my best calls yet. A privately owned country club reached out to us, I got the lead, called the chef, spoke to him, and we ended up spending almost an hour on the phone discussing how new menus might look once they were ordered. He had brought his dining manager into the conversation, he was responsible for the new wine books, and I think we hit it off as well. I feel like even though I encountered some objections such as the instance when they insisted that they wanted a dessert and drinks menu that was 5 x 14 O.D. (Outside Dimensions), and I told them that seemed kind of long, we could still accommodate their wishes. Later on they did shorten the menu, but whether that was because of my comment or not, I really couldn't say. They were merging two menus; drinks and desserts, into one and since they don't have that finished product to work off of, there was a lot of speculation and what ifs in that conversation and I just love that kind of thing. I felt as if we had a rousing and spirited discussion that was dynamic, idea producing, conceptual, analytical, and respectful of everyone while still being a ton of fun.

I wonder if selling menus is going to be similar to selling shoes or other items I've sold in the past, there are many people who could not care less about what I have to say, but the people who do, really get it. Just in my short stint there I have spoken to a wide range of people, everyone from a very high up hotel manager who works for a chain I think most would recognize to a woman who wants 60 menus so she can expand her taqueria. I've talked to people in the deep South, the East coast, a prime rib place out in one of the Dakotas, fancy oyster bars, and replied to an inquiry from a new strip club that wants menus for their grand opening. Apparently the cutperson who had the job before I did thought that the place I worked for was too expensive and tried to reduce customer costs by selling people lesser quality items. Now we have a customer who is complaining that his menus are picking up grease spots which is what one would expect from that type of a material. I don't have enough experience to figure out how competitive we are, but the owners are not people who are out to gouge anyone and I wouldn't stay if they were. I tend to be a quality over quantity person which might be why I enjoy selling to higher end hotels and country clubs. Not a market I thought I would enjoy, but it's fun to meet people who are intelligent, passionate, and visionary.

Pretty tired today, so trying to take it easy even though my mind is ticking off a list of things that I would like done. Until next time,

J

P.S. If there is an area of your life that seems impossible to change, just hang in there, it can be done.

j