Sunday, December 02, 2007

A Step Away from Greatness

“Thank you for calling WGBH. May I please have your first and last name?”

Boston’s WGBH was one of the first pubic radio and TV stations launched in 1951. It was the home of Julia Child’s French Chef. It is now the home of Christopher Kimball and America’s Test Kitchen. WGBH puts on periodic pledge drives, asking for viewer support and contributions. Pledges can be made online, of course, but it seems that a lot of people are really either uncomfortable with computers or they simply prefer the minimal personal interaction that speaking with a phone operator affords.

This is where I came in. This past weekend I volunteered to take a four-hour shift as a phone pledge-collector. It was a slow day. A really slow day. In those four hours I received four phone calls. Two of those were nutjobs and two were very nice (and very ready to spend – one caller pledged $250, the other, $125).

One of the main reasons that I signed on for the job - besides the good karma vibes of course - was the likelihood of encountering Christopher Kimball, a badass in his own right. He really does wear a bow tie all the time, and not ironically. He is also likely the only man who can pull it off. He is wickedly funny. He hates Rachel Ray with a burning passion (and has little respect for the rest of the Food Network).

I was very happy to have the opportunity to sit behind Mr. Kimball’s back as he asked for donations on live television (you just may see me on PBS if you live in the Boston area – I am the nervous-looking blond girl trying to avoid the camera). I had the chance to speak with him and really wanted to, but totally chickened out. I was also completely pinned behind my desk - I had no idea that 40 people could be stuffed into 5 square feet of floor space, give or take. I did find out that America’s Test Kitchen sends recipes out to home cooks for testing, to get an idea of how real people cook and you can sign up to be a test cook on their website, somewhere.

Turns out, there are some very stupid real people. Apparently, one chicken recipe came back with a poor review. In the comments section of the review, the test cook had written something along the lines of, “ I didn’t have chicken, so I used shrimp. It really wasn’t good.” Wow. I really hope he didn’t cook the shrimp 5 minutes on each side as you would with chicken.

P.S. Should I ever actually graduate, I will absolutely look up how to be a test cook. I am a real person. More often than not, a stupid real person, but still... I can do it.


Leena said...

You are so not stupid. Stupid is ringing up a celebrity's chef order wrong in HIS OWN gourmet food store. In front of him. Or so I hear.

Hillary said...

Hahaha, Anna. This actually sounds like fun! Look at you, volunteering and getting yourself out there! I would totally chicken out from talking to Kimball too...I'm just like you in that regard.

JC said...

Hey, I was the guy who called in and said his name was Seymour Butts. Sorry.

Anna said...

Leena - Ok. I think I need the full story on that one. I must have missed your post on it. D'oh. Sounds awesome.

Hillary - I don't know why I got all tongue tied! Well, I do actually. What do you say to the guy who knows all the things you wish you knew but don't?? What do you say to a guy who wears a bow tie... and means it?? I totally chickened out.

JC - That is funny. Although not as funny as saying that your zip code is Weiner. How about insisting on a gift that is not available fo pledges received on that day. Or how about calling up PBS and bitching out the poor volunteer phone operator because the GIFT CDs take too long to arrive in the mail? Not in time for the holidays!! Guess what, lady? You didn't dial QVC. So shut up. Whew. Glad to have gotten that off my chest. You weren't one of them, were you?

JC said...

"My zip code is wiener". Giggle. But it wasn't me. Did anyone ask if your refrigerator was running, or if you had Prince Albert in the can?