Sunday, May 4, 2008


after a hiatus existing for much of my life, I've been eating oranges recently. sometimes orange juice gives me heartburn so I avoided oranges. recently I started eating them and I'm really glad I did. I tend to snack a lot, and at least if I'm snacking, an orange isn't that bad.

only problem, I have no idea how to pick an orange. an apple? that's easy because you can see the bruise and I know the texture of a "good" apple. a potato? no problem, just look through the dirt to see if the skin is green. I was in the grocery store the other day and there's the guy stocking fruit so I asked him how to pick an orange. in a nutshell, he said

lets pause here for a minute and talk about people. grocery store people. I respect people that work in grocery stores. it's ... a public service. I know it's easy to joke about people who work at grocery stores or pet stores or any "service" industry... but there's just something about grocery stores. it takes a complicated persona to take people's BS and still politely carry groceries to their car. some of these people, those at the register anyway, interact with a wide variety of people - much wider than many of us do as part of our daily journey. they see families arguing and alcoholics and ring up groceries for people on food stamps. do they silently critique what they see others eating? I would.

There's a complicated something, a good thing, that it takes to do that job, and a certain undesirable thing as well - a level of comfort with people being rude to you, to your face. I don't really participate in the rude thing, and try to express appreciation at the register when I see someone who "gets it". obviously I'm only talking about the GOOD people that work at the store. jerks, religious zealots, close talkers, dummies, chews-with-their-mouth-open or has-stuff-in-their-teeth, corporate propaganda machines (may I have your phone number? what about your email address?) or message force multipliers (link, link, link), and others of their ilk are not included in my positivity and well wishes. they can go scratch.

I was buying dog food recently and they asked if I needed help carrying it to my car. I said no since I didn't, but was curious - so, asked how many customers take the offered help. "about one in four of five customers" was the response, which was a bit astonishing. twenty to twenty five percent of people are having the workers carry their 50 pound bag of dog food to their car? the dude and chick behind the counter were like "whatever, it's part of the job, no big deal". that's really cool! I'd be so annoyed by carrying around bags of dog food for strangers I think I'd kill myself.

I remember working at a fast food place as my first real job. we'd have to bring cases of burger meat and chicken and french fries from the walk-in freezer to the kitchen. unfortunately, the walk-in freezer was in the basement, and all that stuff was really really heavy to carry. the fries were about 35 pounds for a healthy sized box, and you'd carry them stacked two or three high, stacked just so and clutched to your chest. and they were freezing, of course, and you walked into the freezer in thin pants and a polo shirt and when you exited under the load of seventy to one-hundred-five pounds of frozen french fries then of course your glasses would fog up because of the temperature change and then you're left with the choice to walk while not being able to see or wait for your glasses to clear up. so you stand there with a hundred pounds of french fries clutched to your chest, then walk as carefully and briskly as you can all the way to the other side of the floor where you'll have the privilege of climbing a 32-step staircase with no breaks (hey, don't slip!) and maneuvering around whatever spilled between the top step and the reach-in freezer on the main level, and all this because your manager told you to bring up six cases of fries and two trips are better then three, or six. then of course it's back down for the burger "meat" and all of this JUST AS FAST AS YOU FUCKING CAN THERE'S TEN CARS IN DRIVE THRU and when is clint back from his break anyway?

why is it called a "service industry" in the first place? to me - in the parlance of our times - it means "YOU service ME" and comes with raised eyebrows and that's the best you could do, sugar? on the side. I think we got it wrong, the whole thing. I think "service industry" is supposed to be about "CUSTOMER service". I don't, however, expect this revelation that I've just let you in on to change the industry much. oh well, we do what we can with what we've got, right? sigh.

so, how to pick an orange. remember that? here we go.

according to the guy in the grocery store last week, is to focus first on the WEIGHT of the fruit. more weight = more juice. also pay attention to the skin, as smooth skin = thin skin and thin skin = more fruit & less peel. when asked about color his attitude was "meh" = not particularly important.

I'm now purchasing my oranges with these principles in mind. if you have any orange picking tips & tricks please leave them in the comments. cheers!


cheyenne said...

Well, I don't eat oranges very often either but I have gone through a lot of limes in my lifetime... Picking limes is very similar: go for smooth skin (weight is less indicative for limes imo) and never pick one with any brown spots (fruit is turning inside--bleagh). Eureka lemons are harder because the skin is always so thick and bumpy; here I do the weight thing and hope for the best. Meyer lemons, however, are a dream and I just pick out the most beautiful one.

I also just wanted to say how much I enjoy your blog--particularly at, say, 4 in the morning when I am up with my little monkey :)

Reese McG said...

i've never had a eureka lemon but i love meyer lemons. i wish the weather was warm for long enough here so that we could grow a lemon tree in our yard.
thanks for the citrus picking tips!