The Time I Was Paid to Eat…and I Hated It.

I signed a confidentiality waiver last week. I was told I couldn’t speak of the happenings that took place after I signed that waiver. No pictures were allowed. My cell was to remain in my purse for the duration of these happenings.

When I was initially approached about this project, I was ecstatic. You see, this project involved food. Food I was going to get to eat. After eating said food, they would then give me money in the form of a gift card to take to that restaurant and, yes … eat more food. Clearly, this was a win-win situation. I proudly proclaimed that it could potentially be the best day of my life.

I was told to arrive hungry, which is how I live 75% of my life. I was also told to arrive early. Early enough to get settled, they said. Settled. How does one get settled when they are hungry? Walking is a struggle when hungry. There was no way I could “settle.” Anyway, I arrived so early the other testers before me were still eating. I tried to wait in my car and calmly read a book, but there was free food somewhere in that building and I could focus on little else.

When I walked in, I was asked for identification. Once they confirmed that I was who I said I was, they asked if I liked pecans. Then, “Do you like caramel and chocolate?” I thought this was an odd question given I figured I was here to test salads and sandwiches. “Sure,” I said. I was then given a number and asked to wait. Once everyone arrived, an announcement was made that we would be testing baked goods: cookies, muffins, pastries, etc. I have never been an uber fan of sweet stuff, but I have never turned down food. This time, though, a heavy sense of dread built in my gut.

There are events that led up to that day that you must understand before you can grasp my dilemma. A week prior to this, I started (okay, restarted) eating Paleo. For those of you who do not know, it is the removal of all grains and dairy from my diet. Also, sugar. (Some will call this a fad diet. It is, but only due to its popularity. Truth is, it works for me. Working out is close to the worst thing in the world. If eating right helps me see better results, I will do it. Obviously I am so strict with it.) So, I walk into this thing pretty clean, internally. Introducing mass amounts of sugar in one sitting was potentially devastating to my digestive system. But due to a lack of will power and the dangling of a gift card in my face, I ate it all.

We were informed to take two or three bites of each item. Anything more could cause us to lose our appetite and we had quite a bit of taste testing to do. Specimen one brought me back to Paris. I ate majority of that thing. Specimen two was like someone baked a cookie from my childhood. I ate most of that, too. Somewhere around specimen four, I began to belch. I don’t know if you have ever shoved yourself into a small booth and then burped, but it sounds wretched and is oh so loud.

After every sample, we were to write our thoughts down. As my gut churned, my critiques went from ecstatic and full of praise to pure hatred. I said things like, “The amount of icing on this thing is reprehensible.” Then, “The dough is obscenely dry.” The more I ate, the angrier I became. Soon my reactions failed to describe what I disliked about the product. Instead, I began insulting the food. “I don’t understand what this donut-pastry hybrid is trying to prove to the world.” And then, “If thrown, this could break through double-paned glass.” And the one that will ensure that they never again ask me to taste their products, “This tasted like sand and old people.”

This story is only confirmation that God has me where he wants me. Behind my own computer, writing my own words, in pajamas and slippers. I’m not built for any other kind of job, even if that job is temporary (an hour long) and allows me to do my favorite thing in the world (eat). If I ever doubt my position in this world again, feel free to remind me of the pain that I endured that afternoon as my body tried to process all of that sugar. Remind me how I unbuttoned my pants while walking around the mall with my mother that evening. Remind me how I sprawled myself on the couch in Urban Outfitters because I just could not go on with life. It just isn’t worth it.

Unless it involves sandwiches. I can definitely taste test sandwiches. And soups. Also, tacos and salsas. I can stomach wine as well.

2 Responses

  1. grandmakallen@gmail.com'
    Kathleen

    Okay…I want to know how many “old people” you have tasted. 😉
    Love this!
    I can hear your voice speaking these words as I read them!!!

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