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Saturday, April 2, 2011

I Thought It Was a Reasonable Question

I am a job-hopper.

In other words, while you may hire me, you can’t count on that sticking.

Dull work? Difficult, patronizing people? Ridiculous commute? Time to go!

The job just prior to my current one was a poor fit for a number of reasons, including vocal homophobia, boisterous and confrontational political righteousness, and small-town cronyism.

Located in a small town and employing people from surrounding and much smaller towns, many of the employees had known each other since kindergarten. They knew everything they needed to know, knew all the people they’d ever need to meet, had already determined their opinion on any given subject.

One daily aspect of my job there was to post, on the corporate “intra-web”, the lunch special at the diner across the street from the warehouse (30-some miles away from the corporate headquarters). Every morning I called the diner and asked them what the specials were.

The warehouse people appreciated being able to know what lunch was without actually crossing the street.

I never cared much for the woman who answered the phone at the diner. Have you seen the movie Fargo? That is the accent you should be hearing in your head for the following dialogue.

“Small Town Feed Seed and Mercantile.”

“Hi, Cheryl. It’s Pearl. What are the specials today?”

“We’ve got a hot ham-and-cheese sandwich with chips and a pickle; we’ve got chicken and wild rice soup with a roll, and we’ve got a hot beef commercial.”

Until she mentioned the “hot beef commercial” I had been typing furiously. This made me stop. A hot beef what?

“What?” I say. “What’s a hot beef commercial?”

An explosive puff of air escapes her lips. Obviously, poor Cheryl is dealing with an idiot.

She doesn’t bother trying to hide her opinion in the tone of her voice.

A hot beef commercial*,” she explains, exacerbated, “is the same as the hot turkey commercial, only beef.”

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what ya get for asking what passes, in some circles, as a stupid question.



*OK. I’ll tell you. According to Kim in Accounting, the “commercial” is regional-truck-stop-speak for an open-faced hot beef sandwich and a side of mashed potatoes, all smothered in beef gravy (commonly known as a Hot Beef Sandwich).

Personally, having once been a truck-stop waitress in Minnesota, I have never heard anyone, ever, refer to a hot beef sandwich as a “commercial”. I have yet to meet one single person who, after hearing me tell this story, said, “Oh, my God, that’s what we call them back in Insert Your Town Here.” If you’ve heard of this term would you please, please tell me about it? It’s killing me.

45 comments:

Eva Gallant said...

I have never heard of a hot beef commercial, nor a hot turkey commercial. I do recall a couple of Calvin Klien (?) commercials featuring Brooke Sheilds saying "Nothing comes between me and my Calvins" as being rather hot!

Pearl said...

Eva, but did she come with a side of mashed potatoes?! :-)

vanilla said...

Never. But thanks for the heads-up: should I ever hire you I have been forewarned that it might be a short stint for you on the job. ;-)

Kyna said...

That wasn't a stupid question. Perfectly reasonable.

I do hear a lot of stupid questions from people that come into my bookshop. For example, whilst a customer is writing a check during purchase, they will often look up and around and ask, 'Where am I?'

Now. This happens a lot. I have never answered with anything but the name of our store, even though I've made retorts in my mind. A colleague of mine once answered, 'Petsmart'. The look on the customer's face was blank for about 5 seconds. I've never wanted to laugh so badly in my life.

Amrita said...

Hi Pearl, Greetings from India. Thank you for visiting my blog and leaving a comment.

An old friend of mine lives in Renville MN. She is 84 years old, my penpal for th e past 36 years. I call her Mom.

I am following your blog and invite you to do the same

Nick said...

Pearl, your blog is a gem

Douglas said...

I have believed, for a very long time now, there are such things as "stupid questions. Yours wasn't one of them. Not by a long shot. I would have asked also. Course, I might have asked "what's it called on the menu?"

I moved around a lot in my working life and learned something along the way...

You either like the workplace or you like the area (town, region, whatever). It is a rare thing indeed when you like both the area and the workplace.

The Vegetable Assassin said...

Well now, I have never heard the term "hot ANYTHING commercial" but you can bet your patoot I'm going to start using it just to be obtuse. "I'm sorry...waiter...do you happen to serve a hot cheese commercial? Well, what are you, an idiot?"

Susan in the Boonies said...

Never heard of such.

It wasn't a stupid question.

I have another not so nice thing I could say about that woman, but I'll refrain.

Dazee Dreamer said...

Never ever heard of it called that. My oh my, and what a nice person to get all put out by you. Little does she know she is now famous on your blog. :)

Daisy said...

No matter what you call it - it sounds like a heart attack to me! Glad you left, I'd miss your blog! :-)

Belle said...

I've never heard of it either. Lovely lady.

My mom was a great job hopper. She usually lasted two years; she got bored easily. We moved to different houses almost every year too. Maybe that is why I am a restless soul.

I don't think anyone should work where the people are nasty. Life here is too short for that crap.

Katie said...

SO what would happen if they were to make TELEVISION commercials for hot beef? What would they call THOSE??

becca said...

i agree is was a reasonable question and well i would have ask it to

who said...

crazy coincidence, we have phonetically the same town nere whear I live (as apposed to spelled the same but fonetically different) but we say it different then insert your.

Gigi said...

A hot beef commercial does NOT sound appealing to me at all....but now a hot turkey commercial? Well, I might be open to trying that. But not at that establishment. The waitress sounds like she's a testy sort.

jabblog said...

A beef sandwich with mashed potatoes and gravy?? and people complain about Britain's lack of fine cuisine;-)

Roses said...

Well duh!

The name just gives it away, doesn't it...cause when you say 'commercial', the image of a hot, open meat sandwich with mashed potatoes and gravy just leaps out!

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

Nope, never heard that term. Google it and you'll find a discussion on Snopes.com with a list of small-town restaurants that serve an HBC and a comment that Garrison Keillor used the term in a 1984 novel. I love regionalisms but this one mystifies me.

Oilfield Trash said...

I learn something new each and every time I read your blog.

But does this mean I have to change the name of my blog now to "Make Daddy A Commercial"?

a Broad said...

I grew up in the South, have lived all over the place since then, drove across the US more than once and I have Never Ever Heard of a Hot Beef/Chicken or anything else Commercial.

love you.
C ...

Golden To Silver Val said...

I'm just speechless. Number 1 because the waitress was so testy and number 2 because how in the world did ANYONE ever come up with a name like that? A lot of times food gets nicknamed because of what it looks like (i.e. Sh-t on a shingle)....but a sandwich that looks like a commercial? I've never heard the term before either. I wonder if she was playing you?

Sioux said...

A hot beef commercial. Doesn't that mean it would be a television commercial for a hot, sexy steer? Moo!

It's nice to know that stupid knows no boundaries...

jenny_o said...

Eva Gallant & Kyna: Priceless!!!

Pearl, never heard of it. But I can sort of see where it might come from. Any hot beef sandwich I've had at a restaurant always tastes funny - it's the gravy's fault (likely made from a powdered base). Maybe that's commercical like flooring can be commercial. Made for it's industrial strength, rather than good taste.

Great post, as usual!

C said...

...what the hell is the point of calling it a commercial?

Rene/ Not The Rockefellers said...

"same as a hot turkey commercial"

you should have seen that coming

jenny_o said...

"it's industrial strength"...

*its* not *it's* - that's what getting riled up over hot beef gravy can do to me

secret agent woman said...

Nope. And she was being difficult.

Julianna said...

Yeah... I've got nothing.

But here we call liquer stores "packies", Sprinkles "jimmies" and everything's "wicked good".

River said...

Since when does a sandwich come with a side of mashed potato?
Over here in Australia a sandwich is two slices of bread with some sort of filling. A bread roll with some sort of filling is called by it's filling, for example beef roll, salad roll etc. Neither is ever smothered in gravy, nor has a side of mashed potato.
Potato and gravy are usually lunch or dinner items on a plate with meat of some kind and other vegetables.

ThreeOldKeys said...

well duh, you need a commercial driver's license to order one at a truck stop.

otherwise you're stuck with the Grilled Cheese Learner's, the Cold Cut Restricted, the Congealed Suspended, etc.

depending on your state or province, you could qualify for the new Chilled Chicken Enhanced.

lisleman said...

In Illinois we had a "hot governor commercial" but got rid of him when he was trying to make commerce from senate seats. That commercial was bleeping golden by the way.

Bambam said...

32 comments and not one person has said:

"Well I've heard of a Hot Beef Injection, but..."

Am I that juvenile?? I guess so... and way to go on the job-hopping.
Be loyal to your friends and your family, not your employer!

On My Soapbox said...

I'm a job-hopper too, although not by choice. Maybe I should just call myself a "Professional Laid-off Former Employee".

Anyway, I have never heard of a sandwich called a "commercial". I've never lived in a rural area or small town, though.

my name is Ian said...

sounds like a serious pocket of humanity there. how many thumbs does that town have?

Tempo said...

Here, that would be an 'open hot beef sandwich' but considering how far apart we are you wouldn't expect it to be similar to what you have there eh?

Pat said...

'Pastrami on rye and hold the mayo!'
That just about covers my knowledge of ordering in the States since Jack Nichols? uttered it in a film. Not sure what it means.

the walking man said...

A hot beef commercial in Detroit is an illegal act done for money.

Happy Frog and I said...

I have never heard of this term before in my life. Though after you mentioned it here I found that someone had set up a blog to it! http://beefcommercialsandwich.blogspot.com/

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Nope. She made that up to mess with you, I'm certain of it.

IndigoWrath said...

Oh Ja, we haff dose here. Todally.

John McElveen said...

Stuoopid is as stoopid duz.....there's a Commercial there somewhere!

J

Cake Betch said...

Nope, have never heard this term, and I've been around a lot of hillbillies and small town areas.

hoodyhoo said...

Round these here parts, we call that an "open-faced roast beef" sammich -- but we don't eat 'em often 'cause they're too fine for a workin' man.

poosemommy said...

never heard of such a sammich, but 'round dese parts we expect them to come all put together and such...
as for stupid questions, I regularly get phone calls from travellers asking if I know what the weather will be like in a certain area 5 days in the future. As a (trying to be)reformed job-hopper, it hurts my soul not to inform them that my crystal ball is in the shop and watch the damned Weather Channel
I does what I can...