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Sunday, February 5, 2012

I Can't Believe You Don't Know That...

I am what is euphemistically known as a job-hopper. In other words, while you may hire me, you can’t count on that sticking.

Dull work; difficult, patronizing people; ridiculous commutes? That whooshing sound is the sound of me leaving the building...

The job before this 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; and they saw no reason to meet anyone new: they knew everything they needed to know, knew all the people they’d ever need to meet…

One daily aspect of my job 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.

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, Sandy. 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 said. “What’s a hot beef commercial?”

An explosive puff of air escaped her lips. Obviously, poor Sandy was dealing with an idiot.

She didn’t bother trying to hide it in the tone of her voice.

A hot beef commercial*,” she explained, 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 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:

mybabyjohn/Delores said...

Sorry...all new stuff to me.

Cathy Olliffe-Webster said...

Never heard of a 'commercial,' sorry, but that's a pretty funny story!

I am so used to ordering a "regular" coffee (cream and sugar) and when someone asks me what regular means I just about fall over.

Cathy Olliffe-Webster said...

Oh, and I LOVED Fargo.
Loved.

ellen abbott said...

nope, never heard that one.

esbboston said...

The folks at the diner ask me if I want my usual, but I actually have multiple versions, so I have to tell them several details and ask questions because sometimes they lack the fundamental chicken, for several days.

Rene Foran said...

I loved her clarification of the hot beef commercial. As if she understood the source of your confusion was meat.

terlee said...

Covering the western part of the country: never, ever heard a Hot Beef/Turkey/whatever sandwich referred to as a "commercial." It doesn't even make sense.

And cripes, how hard is it to just say sandwich??

Pearl said...

Isn't it weird? I had this conversation years ago, and it still bugs me. So far, I've only heard of it as a "commercial" in this one isolated spot in Minnesota...

Pearl

Austan said...

In these parts, that's called a "hot open sandwich". Never, in all my life, heard it called a "commercial". But then til I worked in a diner in PA, I'd never heard "basted eggs" either.

Rita said...

Nope! Grew up in Minnesota, have been a truck stop waitress, and am now living in Fargo--always been a "hot beef sandwich" as far as I have ever heard in my 60 years.

BTW, I would have hated to ask her as my waitress what the hot beef commercial was--LOL! ;)

Ms Sparrow said...

I remember hearing it called that once but I can't remember where. I have known small-minded folks like that. They think that anything they know is common knowledge and those who don't know it are beneath contempt. I once ordered fried chicken livers at a small-town cafe way up north. I was aghast when they were served with a huge puddle of yellow mustard over them! The waitress informed me that's the way everybody eats them. I guess that comes from living in a small world.

Joanne said...

Wonder if it was the thing those commerical big rig drivers ordered most often. Just a wild guess. I had to find out Jumbo was boloney in Pittsburgh, where they also put gravy on french fries.

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jenny_o said...

Small towns - gotta love 'em.

Wait - No! Ya don't! Not the homophobia, not the political righteousness, not the cronyism - and NOT the local jargon that outsiders get frowned on for not knowing :)

In our parts, that's a hot beef sandwich. Period.

fishducky said...

The only commercials I've heard of are the ones on TV--& I HATED "Fargo"!

Amber Star said...

When I checked my internal accent channel all I could get was The Swedish Chef from the Muppets. The Fargo accent just wouldn't come through.

I live in Texas and have never heard of a "commercial" sandwich. Is that in oppostion to the retail sandwich? :D

Jayne Martin said...

Yes. They walk among us. And they breed. Congrats on getting your face on a stamp over at Indigo's with such a fine group of other witty geniuses.

Looking forward to your next book, my friend.

Happy Frog and I said...

Fascinating post but not something we have in the UK.

Vapid Vixen said...

Oh my god! That's what we'd hear the Newfies call it when I lived in Nova Scotia.

Okay, not really. I had absolutely no idea what you were talking about. But duh Pearl. It's the SAME thing only with beef.

...seriously?

MITM said...

vocal homophobia, boisterous and confrontational political righteousness, and small-town cronyism.

Wow! Good thing you got out of there without knowing what a commercial is let alone eating one. Next thing you know you'd be wandering around in circles saying - ONE OF US! ONE OF US!

Cotonee said...

I don't remember where I first heard this, but it's in my vocabulary. Some small diner in SD I imagine.

Lo said...

Pearl.......I don't comment nearly often enough.......your posts are priceless..

I loved this one especially......don't know why, but I just had to tell you.
Thanks for all your great blogs.

...hot beef commercial....hmmmm has it anything to do with that great one where the guy says, ",,,,asta some spicy meatball"...?

Kelley said...

This really cracked me up! Love that you made us imagine the Fargo accent. I have never heard of the "commercial" in my life!

Kelley said...

This really cracked me up! Love that you made us imagine the Fargo accent. I have never heard of the "commercial" in my life!

jabblog said...

No, new one on me - but we have Fat Boys in the Greasy Spoon:-)

Shelly said...

Never heard of a sandwich called that. In my house we would just call it fattening.

Belle said...

"I've been from one side of this galaxy to the other Kid, and I ain't never heard of a 'commercial' sandwich."

Kristy said...

I have never heard of that. Geez, Sandy doesn't play.

SherilinR said...

why is it that small town people use phrases that others don't know & then they look at the unknowing/normal person like we're defective? or just repeat it again as if saying the strange word of phrase more than once will clarify the situation.

Dee said...

Dear Pearl,
You stopped by my blog yesterday or today and I wanted to return the favor. Now, after reading your "hot beef commercial" posting, I know I'll be back.

How well I remember eating a hot beef sandwich with mashed potatoes and gravy when I was a teenager and worked at the Montgomery Ward mail order house in Independence, Missouri. Every Saturday, I walked two blocks--to a cafe on the Square--and ordered always a hot beef sandwich.

Now I've been a vegetarian for 31 years, but I still remember that order as being, "Mmm, Mmm, good!"

Peace.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Nope. Never heard of it. I've been around a few years, but that's a new one on me.

WrathofDawn said...

I have never heard a hot beef sandwich called a commercial, open face or not.

However, you described my current place of residence perfectly with:

"...many of [them] had known each other since kindergarten; and they saw no reason to meet anyone new: they knew everything they needed to know, knew all the people they’d ever need to meet… "

I love "Fargo," despite the horrible violence, just for the accents.

WrathofDawn said...

And Vapid Vixen that is NOT what Newfoundlanders (you don't get to call them Newfies unless you are one of them) call them.

Linda O'Connell said...

Open faced is what we call it in
the midwest. A commerical is what you watch during super bowl :)

The Elephant's Child said...

Not anywhere in Oz that I know of either - and I have lived in some very small and very scary towns.

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Susan Kane said...

That is a new one for me...and I came from a really small town.

Leenie said...

Always enjoyable to stop by and get the gossip at Pearl's.

=8oD

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

I had quite a few jobs throughout my career. Some I loved, one I hated, and others I passed through. I never found it about the work and never about the money, but always about the people and the adventure. That really is what it is about. It is about the people that have passed my way that I am so grateful for. Love what you do, but more important, love the purpose it gives to your life.

Tempo said...

Thats what happens when you slip off the map and find yourself somewhere in the margins of civilization. Things get funny and oft unpronounceable names just to make them sound interesting...and NO, I've never heard anything called a commercial before..

River said...

I'm wondering now about Austan's "basted eggs".

Mandy_Fish said...

I've never heard that expression either. But I will from this day forward refer to my husband's nether regions as his "Hot Beef Commercial."

Jess said...

Heard it once on Diner's, Drive In's and Dives or maybe it was Man v. Food...who knows, I was drunk and thought I was hearing things wrong.

lime said...

as far as i'm concerned a commercial is a thing to flip the channels during. they didn't have a wood chipper in the back did they?

Lookeee said...

Here in Indiana we call those beef manhattan's. Or for goodness sakes, a turkey manhattan. ; ).

First time on your blog, over from murrmurr's. Thanks for the enjoyable reading.