Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Rise,
The Fall
and The Neverending Story:
A musical and philosophical
exploration in three parts

I wrote OXO last night, when the stifling air per a storm-that-never-came begat a thirst for nostalgia and cantaloupe.
Dear good people at Oxo,

I first fell in love with you over your Oxo Steel Swivel Peeler, which I bought over 5 years ago when I first moved out on my own and suddenly needed kitchen implements.

I admit, 5 years later, the blade isn't as sharp as it used to be and though I haven't had a lot of luck finding replacement blades up here in Canada, I can't bring myself to throw it away and buy a new one. Something about it's firm yet squishy utility begs me to hold onto it just a little longer.

I also own a Steel can opener, whisk, ice cream scoop and lemon zester. I love them all, though perhaps the lemon zester just a little less. My weak wrists necessitate me keeping a death grip on my lemon with my left hand, while my right hand forms a fist around the zester's handle, usually with my thumb up near the zesting part for guidance. Perhaps if you rotated the zesting part a quarter turn it would work better? Or maybe it would just work better for me.

The whisk is the best whisk I've ever used, bar none, and I've worked in several commercial kitchens. Holding it in my hand, I can't believe no one had thought of it's design before you geniuses (no exaggeration). And while its turgid profile does lend itself to many a dirty kitchen joke from my dinner guests, well, that just adds to the joy of using it.

Accolades aside, I'm writing this e-mail to you as a child of Filipino immigrant parents longing for a taste of the old country in a hot Canadian summer.

When I was child living with my parents, my mom would sometimes make me a drink with shredded cantaloupe, milk or water and a bit of sugar. Very simple and wonderfully refreshing. Mom used a tool she brought here from the Philippines and available at some Filipino markets, like the one on the left in the top picture of this page.

Melon shredder, Market Manila

While it worked well enough for it's purpose, I couldn't help noticing how she had to periodically adjust and readjust the loops, which would be pushed out of alignment by the force of drawing them against firm cantaloupe flesh. Now, thinking about your wonderful zester (and my mom's developing arthritis): would you consider making a bigger version? Perhaps with 3/8" sized holes?

Though I didn't think it possible, I just might love you even more than I did before.

My thanks,

They wrote me back! I got an e-mail from Rachel Cooper, a marketing assistant for OXO today.
Hi Christina,

Thank you so much for your wonderful feedback on all your OXO products! We design our products with the consumer’s needs in mind, and are always happy to hear when we have hit the mark. We are glad that you are enjoying all of our tools, and putting them to good use in the kitchen.

Understandably, the blades of your Peeler will dull over time and therefore will not work as well as when you first bought it. We’re sorry that you were unable to find a Replacement Blade, but have no fear- as all our products have a lifetime Satisfaction Guarantee. We would love to send you a new SteeL Swivel Peeler, free of charge. Just let me know if you would like me to use the address provided as the shipping address.

We always appreciate suggestions for products from consumers, and take all your comments into consideration. I am forwarding your email (and the link) to our Product Managers to take a look at and consider. Please let us know if you have any further questions or suggestions for our products. We appreciate all your positive feedback and support and are happy to be a part of your kitchen.

Rachel Cooper
Marketing Assistant

I send out these sorts of e-mails from time to time, but I never expect anyone to write me back. I tend to assume large corporations with worldwide distribution, like OXO, don't actually have time for that sort of thing. Well, Rachel, thanks for proving me wrong. And now I get a free swivel peeler! I'll add it to our collection.

(That's the swivel peeler in the middle. edit: Missing is the spatula, pardon...turner that I found hiding in the dish drainer later this evening.)

I had the biggest, silliest grin on my face and was looking for music to play as I wrote this blog when I glanced out the door to the balcony and noticed a police van pulling up to a house across the alley. We live very close to downtown, so I figured maybe someone had "fallen asleep" behind someone's garage. Instead, they walked over to a van that's been parked in one of the driveways, knocked on the windows and spoke at length with the woman who came out from inside.

(Cue Beethoven's 7th Symphony, 2nd Movement - allegretto.)

Trailer for The Fall.

For the last few months, a couple has been living out of a pale yellow van, parked in the driveway of a house across the alley. At times we wanted to call the police, but we figured everyone has to live somewhere, and as long as they weren't scattering our garbage everywhere, or drinking in our driveway (which is another story for another blog entry), well, who were we to judge them. Sometimes, when Aaron and I were gardening in the back yard late into the evening, we'd see the man and woman walking together through the alley and they'd say hello and we'd say hello and everyone would smile and it would be nice. We knew/know nothing about them or their lives or how they came to be in the place they were and, if anything, they probably needed our compassion. And a few cans.

But I can't quite express the relief I felt seeing that van pull out of the driveway this afternoon, and how different the alley feels not having a rusted old van, with bed sheets, clothes and towels lain atop its roof and across its hood, parked in one of the driveways. As much as my heart feels compassion for people in difficult circumstances, it also feels a nearly intolerable frustration at seeing the heaps of food containers, clothes, rags, and general near-domestic detritus that van barfed all over that driveway.

Wherever they are, I sincerely hope their circumstances work out for the better. Maybe someday, with a bit more life experience, I can offer them something more than a smile and hello.

Thankfully, Aaron and I had an excellent evening together. When he came home from work, we went out for a bike ride, and then we took care of some errands before an evening of snuggling and a few episodes of Battlestar Galactica. Overall, this day has been really quite wonderful.

Ah, the never ending human drama. I'll leave you with this video of Architecture in Helsinki's "Do the whirlwind".

1 comment:

  1. I have read this before and every now and again I check and see whats new and always find refreshing to see and read about your work.I am very proud of what you have done and accomplished.You are brilliant...just to let you know.


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