Day Job

Like most creative people, I’ve had my share of “Day Jobs”.

Sometimes referred to as “Odd Jobs.”

Jobs whose sole purpose is to pay the rent. Jobs you will suffer zero remorse in quitting, the second it seems like you might actually be able to make a living from your true passion.

That’s how I found myself working every Saturday and Sunday as a “food demo girl.” Most times the company sent me to high-end stores like Whole Foods or local equivalents, where the customers didn’t even glance at the price of the $21.00. a lb. cheese I was sampling, but couldn’t actually afford to buy. They just tasted it, took a wedge from my table, threw it into their cart and kept moving – all in one smooth motion.

On this particular weekend I was in Palo Alto, set up on the sidewalk on California Ave. in front of a health food store I shall forever think of as “Funky Sun”, due to it’s grimy interior and super laid back employees.

Someone, I’m guessing an off-site owner, was smart enough to arrange to have a few demo tables out front, to take advantage of the overflow from the Sunday Farmer’s Market.

A guy playing the banjo is set up on the street in front of my table. Let’s just say I’m not a fan of that particular instrument. He plinks and plunks for the entire four hours of my shift. My ears ring with the twangy-ness of it all.

Of course, the great-sounding trio of handsome black jazz musicians is at the far end of the street. I only hear them playing as I’m walking in. And watch them packing up their instruments as I pass by later in the afternoon. Crap!

People who shop at health food stores are very discerning about what they put into their bodies. They stood in front of my little table debating for quite a long time about whether they should taste the tea I was sampling. You’d think I was proposing a lifetime commitment.

“Just taste the damn tea or don’t!!!” I have to refrain from shouting. “You’re blocking my table, you precious bastards. Drink it or move on!!!

In a scene right out of Dr. Seuss, a set of tiny twin boys, dressed in identical, long sleeved grey-and-white-striped pjs, zips past on their matching scooters, looking exactly like “Thing One and Thing Two”.

A loud-guy-who-thinks-he’s-funny is making his presence known. I think he works at one of the food booths. I use the term “work” loosely, as he seems to mostly wander around chatting people up and repeatedly running into the health food store, probably to take a leak, as he’s carrying a small glass milk jar that looks like it’s filled with beer. He gets louder as the day goes on, so I’m pretty sure I’m on the money regarding his beverage of choice.

He tries to chat up the very young and very pretty demo girl set up next to me. She’s sampling some kind of fruit juice. “Not sure if I should try this. My doctor says I’m sweet enough already!!!!” he shouts at her, even though she is standing mere inches away from him. I think she shows amazing restraint and politeness, and just smiles at him. “It’s up to you.”

She’s obviously knows how to deal with random guys hitting on her by now.

Who brings a pit bull to a crowded farmer’s market?

Apparently the dude in the leather vest with no shirt underneath does. The pit lunges at Labradoodles and other bite-sized morsels including a few tiny children who want to pet the “doggie.” Luckily the other dogs are on leashes, so no bloody or scary attacks occur. Or at least not on my watch.

There are a few close calls of course, with children wandering far afield from their “free range” parents.

My experience with pit bull owners is that when they do eventually attack someone, the owners almost always say, “He’s never done that before!”

An elderly and very chatty man stops by for a tasting and tells me about his adventure tasting tea in Taipei, years ago. He said it was like wine tasting today, only with tea. You could walk the countryside where people grew tea behind their houses. They’d invite you onto their front porches set up as tearooms, to sample their wares. I think “Drinking Tea in Taipei” sounds like a great title for a future novel.

My fellow demo gal is stunningly beautiful with long eyelashes that she bats efficiently with excellent end results. It’s kind of hilarious to see men make a beeline for her table, and not listen to one thing she’s saying as she earnestly pitches her product. Girlfriends and wives stand by looking territorial, suddenly putting a hand on their man’s forearm.

I’m happy just getting the overflow from her crowd, as no one is buying this tea that, according to comments from the people who’ve tasted it so far, tastes “kind of like dirt”.

I talk to pretty demo girl during a break in foot traffic. She’s quite sweet and also works a full-time job at Macy’s.

The crowds pick up again, so I never get to ask if there’s a true passion that her Day Job is supporting.

In any case, no one can say both of us aren’t out here hustling to make a buck!!!