Charlie, Ray and I, the tres retired amigos, took a road trip the other day out to Famous Cigars in Easton, Pa.
After loading up on enough stogies to smoke out a Tea Party rally, we headed for lunch at a local burger joint.
When our food arrived, my first move, as usual, was to reach for the saltshaker. Don’t tell my doctor, but I put salt on everything. I would even salt my ice cream if it wasn’t for that whole melting thing.
Now in my 67 years, one thing I thought I had mastered was the use of a saltshaker.
As is my wont, I inverted the shaker and shook. Nothing came out. I realized that this was a salt grinder, not a shaker. This was something new to me. I also noticed that it had a McCormick label on it. I held it right side up and twisted the top as one would a pepper mill. No salt was forth coming for the simple reason that there were no holes in the bottom. So, I turned it upside down and vigorously twisted the top. In the dim light, I thought I could see salt landing on my burger which, as it turned out, may well have been dandruff flakes. Satisfied, I dug in.
Soon after, Ray, who apparently had some experience with this sort of contrivance, picked up the shaker. He turned it upside down and removed the cap. Approximately a teaspoon of freshly ground salt landed in a pile on his french fries. “Well”, he said, “There’s all the salt Jerry ground into the cap.” This was not said in a critical or reproachful tone, but just as a statement of fact. Chagrined, all I could say was “What do you expect? I was an English major in college?”
Later, the more I thought about this the angrier I got. The old system worked for me: a couple of holes in the top of a container. No password, no PIN, no technological ability required. What is the advantage of freshly ground salt anyway, for cripes stakes? Its been buried in the ground for a few million years. How fresh can it be? What I don’t need in my life is more opportunities to embarrass myself.
I decided, because I was pissed and because I have too much time on my hands, to take this up with the folks at McCormick. So in my best irritable old man mode, I fired off a cranky email to them:
I recently had an unfortunate experience with one of your products while lunching at a restaurant with my friends, Ray and Charlie. (Here, dear reader, I am sparing you a second description of the tragic events)
Now I am not seeking compensation or a free supply of McCormick products for my friends, but I would like an explanation of why you would unnecessarily complicate what had always been a very simple task: salting one’s food. Do we not all face enough complications in life without adding new ones?
I would appreciate a quotable response as I would like to include it in my widely read blog.
Thank you for your prompt reply.
Open Salon. Com”
This is somewhat disingenuous as I am, in fact, seeking compensation and/or freebies. Hey, I just priced out a jar of McCormick’s dill and they want four bucks for a fistful of dead weeds. Who’s the con artist here?
If I had said I was seeking compensation or free stuff, the letter would land on the desk of some lawyer who would do what all lawyers do….nothing.
By sounding like a journalist seeking the truth, they might decide to schmooze me by sending a few crate loads of over-priced herbs and spices. Of course, the “widely read” part is a big fat lie. Pretty slick, huh?
It has been two hours since I sent this and I have still not had a reply.
Since you are probably as anxious as I to drop this subject and move on, here is what I imagine their response might be:
“Dear Mr. Andersen,
We regret your difficulties with our new Saline Delivery System. This device was extensively tested on animals in our lab before it was released into the market. Our standard is that if a chicken can operate it, the average consumer should have no problem.
In this case, we did not feel that the chicken had the manual dexterity to operate the grinder so we sought out the least intelligent primate, which we thought we had found in the Malayan Lemur.
After one demonstration, the lemur successfully salted his nuts ten times.
While we cannot offer you free products at this time, we can offer you a position in our test lab as the lemur succumbed to hypertension.
Here is a step-by-step explanation of how to operate the devise (if there is a big word you don’t understand, let us know and we will send you a simpler one.)
. Remove cap by pulling upward (^)
. Turn bottle upside down (The M in McCormick should now resemble a W, the fourth letter from the end of the alphabet)
. Twist bottleneck in any direction you prefer.
. The appearance of white flakes on your food indicates salt is being dispensed. (Caution: in our tests, some of the lemurs mistook their own dandruff for the salt flakes.)
. Reverse the procedure and replace bottle next to the pepper (the black stuff).”
That’s what I would write if I was their PR guy, but they may not be as snotty as I.
Anyway, I have to sign off now and see if I can figure out how to use my new talcum powder grinder without getting my nuts caught in it.