THANKS FOR READING, PLEASE LEAVE A TIP

On this beautiful day, let’s participate in a quick thought exercise. It won’t be hard, I promise. And I don’t break promises, so from the almost nothing you know about me, and that statement, there’s zero reason for you not to trust me. Ok, let us wander down memory lane to a time when you could buy things, anything really, and simply pay for it. List price plus any sales tax. That’s it. You pay for it, and then you grab the bag and leave feeling satisfied. How far back in time did your mind travel? 

Actually, pause, I think we should address the question in your head. Was I supposed to go far back? Technically, I gave you no real instructions other than a time you spent money, so I guess not. My bad. But, if you think about the last time the custom additional payment line was added to a receipt, it may have been a while. That’s right, I’m talking about tipping! And America, I believe we have a tipping problem. Not the tipping you experience from consuming maybe one too many adult beverages. No, I’m talking about the tipping that comes from your wallet. The tipping that you have to do math to get to. The tipping that is optional, but mandatory. 

Are you picking up what I’m leaving on the table? When was the last time you weren’t asked to leave a tip for someone? It’s getting consistently more difficult to find examples of plain old pay and walk away. We tip for everything now. Not just when eating out, back when that was a more mainstream, and safe, adventure, but we’ve gotten to a place where almost every business feels it’s acceptable to ask you for a tip. You can count on it with any food adventure. It’s almost guaranteed for any type of experience you participate in. Don’t think that retail isn’t trying to hop on this bandwagon either. Where did we go wrong?

Since this is an opinion based blog, I would like to take some time and dive into my thoughts about being asked to make additional payments on things I spend money on. If this is your first time realizing there are zero factual backings to any of these posts, I apologize. But, also, we may need to discuss your ability to interpret sarcasm. Anyways … moving on … tipping! Or robbing, you decide. I think there are limits to the number of “services” that can acceptably ask me to spend more money than my receipt says.

If you give me a fantastic tour of a distillery, then of course I’m going to tip you – excellent service pays off. If you’re refilling my drink before I even know it’s getting empty, then of course I’m going to tip you – hard work pays off. If I order food and you drive it to me, then of course I’m going to tip you – not being lazy pays off. If I, however, pick out all of my own groceries and place them on the conveyor belt, then why would I leave the cashier a tip? You’re just doing your job. And I did all the hard work, so, what is that about?

For starters, why not just factor my tip into my bill? Then I wouldn’t care. Make me calculate it, though, and all of a sudden it’s an extra expense (and an annoyance). Use mind tricks with people – make us believe that was always going to be the total. Basic math equations aside, if I do all of the work and you simply are working at the register, what on earth is making it acceptable for you to ask for a tip?

Don’t get me wrong, tipping is not something that I see as an employee problem. In fact, I actually support adding extra money so they don’t have to make whatever absurdly low hourly rate their business has decided is appropriate. The main problem is that we still have places paying people less than half the minimum wage and banking on the fact that tips will push them, on average, to the federal minimum. How horrible would it be for you to start their pay at minimum wage and allow them to earn much more than that for their hard work? Why is that like asking for the moon?

Second imagination station train of the day. If you’re at your job, and have a meeting with your manager, what do you think their reaction would be if you asked for a tip / bonus for meeting the basic requirements you were hired (and are already paid) to do? You may be job hunting the next day. You may get laughed off as a joke. You may get the silent stare of terror. You may get a snarky comment. Small chance you get a tip, though. I feel like that should be no different in the consumer industry, but maybe that’s just me.

Alright, jumping off my pedestal for now. If you know someone who would enjoy this post and want to share it with them, that would be awesome. Sharing is caring, after all. Don’t forget to subscribe to get these in your inbox twice weekly and follow TRP on Twitter for frequent musings. Thanks for reading!


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HULU’S COMMERCIAL ALGORITHM: THE ULTIMATE TROLL

Hulu has crashed onto the streaming services scene and has really been making waves. Offering a live TV option. Giving you the fastest access to current seasons. Beginning to rival Netflix’s quality and quantity with their Hulu Originals. Having one of the best color schemes in television apps. Green is honestly superior to red. It’s the color of money for one. And half of the Christmas color scheme. Supposedly, according to my BIF (best Internet friend) Google, our minds associate it with life, nature, energy, growth, freshness, safety, and ambition, among other things.

Despite all the good things going it’s way, though, Hulu has a dark side. Some might think that’s their default advertisement tier. Those people would be partially right. I mean, sure, there is the option to pay for Hulu with no ads. But who has that kind of frivolous spending in their budget? It’s twice as much. And then I would lose my built in bathroom, and snack, breaks. In other words, for more of my money, I would physically have to pick up the remote to pause what I was watching to take a break. That feels backwards. A little unfair, honestly. Thus, I am but a Hulu peasant living with their commercial breaks.

Side tangent aside, the commercial breaks are a necessary evil in my current lifestyle. If you’re living the 1% life and don’t have the basic plan, then you may not be able to relate to the one major downside to Hulu. Which, of course, is their commercial algorithm troll. During my PH years – that’s pre-Hulu in case it was unclear – I thought I was kind of an average, normal-ish millennial. Sure I had my quirks, but overall believed I was in the same general range as my peers. From a lifestyle and preferences standpoint.

However, after leveling up to multiple streaming services and adding the big green H to my TV apps, I’ve realized that I am both a middle aged soccer mom and a lonely college student. I am neither a mom, nor am I middle aged, nor am I lonely, nor am I a college student. At least, I didn’t think I was. Enter Hubert the Hulu Troll. In my mind this algorithm is an angry old man, so I figured Hubert best fit that analogy. Hubert made me realize that I’ve basically been living in some weird dream as a mid-twenties millennial. 

I’m no algorithm expert, but I know that at a basic level it takes your viewing preferences and suggests commercials based on what category it thinks you fall into. Oh, and obviously your smart TV, and any other devices with your Hulu app, listens to your conversations and throws out commercials based on your conversations. So it takes the data it has, steals data from private conversations and stereotypes you. How fun is that?! 

If it feels a bit creepy, that’s because it is. I’ve been talking about adopting a new puppy since the fall. Simply talking. And texting. With my friends and family. On my phone. Which doesn’t have the Hulu app. Yet, guess who keeps getting Petfinder and Hill’s Pet Nutrition commercials? Correct, yours truly. Although, if we’re being honest, it could have been a much worse topic for them to take from my non Hulu related activity, so I guess there’s a silver lining. I get to see adorable dogs on my commercial breaks. On the flip side, though, it also thinks that I have children. I get a disturbing amount of Pull-Ups, minivan, and Hornitos tequila commercials. If Hulu is listening, please just send me more puppies.

Like all good technology, it doesn’t always get it right. Occasionally I get commercials for Meow Mix and I know you don’t know me, but I’m not a cat person. I don’t own a cat. I won’t own a cat. Stop trying to sell me on the impossible. I also find it funny when I get whiskey commercials since I hate whiskey. And all of my private conversations would indicate that. Maybe my significant other is whispering sweet nothings in Hubert’s ear to try and get me on the brown liquor train. But I will stand strong. 

My favorite part about Hubert, is that for a while I naively believed it was just random placements of ads to the highest bidder. Then my siblings, one who is in college and one who just graduated from college, informed me that they got Trojan, Tinder, and Tito’s commercials. At which point I realized that Hubert genuinely believes that I’ve outgrown my youth. I have not received a single commercial for any of those products. And I love a good moscow mule so what’s up with that?!

Alright, jumping off my pedestal for now. If you know someone who would enjoy this post and want to share it with them, that would be awesome. Sharing is caring, after all. Don’t forget to subscribe to get these in your inbox twice weekly and follow TRP on Twitter for frequent musings. Thanks for reading!


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HELLO, MY NAME IS [BLANK] AND I’M ADDICTED TO CHEWY CHIPS AHOY

Everyone has that one food that they can’t resist under any circumstances. You could be coming straight off a Thanksgiving dinner for the ages, but if someone asks if you want to eat blank you’ll be like yep, let’s do it! Because it’s the one item where you have no control and don’t even pretend to. Your go-to cheat day meal. Your motivation while working out. The subject of your deepest, darkest food fantasies. Your food bae, essentially.

You know what I’m talking about. You can pretend like you don’t, and that’s a lie that you’ll tell yourself. For some people it’s something salty. For other people it’s something sweet. For yet others out there it’s a straight up entree. Probably a very specific entree from a specific restaurant and the same order anywhere else simply won’t do. For the rest of the population that doesn’t fall into one of the above categories, it’s either a drink or something healthy. Both are questionable options for a fantasy food, but you do you.

For me, that food is Chewy Chips Ahoy cookies. Not Chips Ahoy, those are only ok and I think one of these days I will go deeper into the correct way to make a cookie, which, of course, is chewy, but today is simply not that day. Chewy. Chips. Ahoy. What?! Yes, I’m talking about the ultimate store bought cookie. The absolute God of drunk party food options. The all day, everyday, ultimate dessert option. I love these cookies so much that their serving size and the amount that I can fit in my mouth at one time are equal. It’s the one food that I don’t even think about calories with. Because everyone knows that when you’re in love, calories don’t count anyways. 

I bet a good majority of you are wondering, why? I talk a lot about Chipotle, and Oreos, and food in general, so why an overly processed, half baked, commercialized cookie? Well, it’s not a totally invalid question. But that judgement, though! This is a safe space! This is the one food I can’t resist, it doesn’t have to be yours. Especially if I have had any sort of alcohol. Doesn’t even have to be a lot of alcohol. I could have sniffed a bottle and I would be immediately in the mood for the cookie crack that is Chewy Chips Ahoy.

Walk with me, for a second, into imagination island where we will encounter the beautiful world of cookies. I think most people enjoy cookies in some shape, form, flavor, size, baked level, etc. I’m going to say something very controversial, but, I personally prefer cookie dough to baked cookies. It’s clearly superior. It tastes like how I imagine the clouds in heaven would taste if I were up there and could eat them. It’s sweet. It’s soft. It’s chewy. It’s slightly tangy. It could be chunky, if you added stuff to your cookies. It’s an explosion of goodness in your mouth.

Unfortunately, raw eggs are not in style at the moment. Salmonella was a thing, and now we have PTSD and remain skeptical of what our chickens have been doing prior to us cracking their unborn children. All the best parenting and lifestyle blogs are anti-cookie dough with dairy in it at the moment. Which is understandable, I can’t deny that. It does make your standard chocolate chip cookie dough unsafe to bring as a snack anywhere. You can eat it in your kitchen and only in your kitchen unless you want Internet trolls to shame you. 

Enter Nabisco. Who, like geniuses, thought about baking this cookie dough just enough to kill the salmonella evil spirits. Half baked cookies. Mind absolutely freaking blown. Now you can enjoy the cookie dough texture without any fear of dying. Win. Win. To the max. What more could you want from a cookie? It’s clearly superior. It tastes like how I imagine the clouds in heaven would taste if I were up there and could eat them. It’s sweet. It’s soft. It’s chewy. It’s slightly tangy. It’s mildly chunky. It’s an explosion of goodness in your mouth. 

Alright, jumping off my pedestal for now. If you know someone who would enjoy this post and want to share it with them, that would be awesome. Sharing is caring, after all. Don’t forget to subscribe to get these in your inbox twice weekly and follow TRP on Twitter for frequent musings. Thanks for reading!


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EXTREME QUARANTINE: GLASS HALF FULL OF EMERGEN-C AND A SUNNY ATTITUDE

Life is uncertain right now. Probably the most uncertain it’s been in a very long time. How long is this going to last? How long will I not be able to leave my home? How long until I can travel again? Go to work again? Take the daily my-life-is-better-than-yours selfie again? Sit down in a restaurant again? Go to the gym again? Well…that is not a corona issue. More of a life choices issue.

Point being that no one really knows. We can guess. Guessing is great on tests, but not so great on life-threatening diseases. In no way am I trying to belittle what’s going on. It’s very serious and I do think that it’s important everyone come together and do their part to help knock this out and move on. I’m merely here to give you great suggestions on how to fill this blessing of free time that has been given to you by nature. Some people don’t like free time – if you feel blessing is not the correct noun here, then you would fall into this category. 

Personally, I’m not a huge fan, but it would be a shame to spend the next month (hopefully that’s it?) in fear and complaining about not being able to get away from your family / roommates / evil cat / etc. That is a recipe for broken relationships. So, to avoid the “I used to know that person, but now they’re dead to me” feeling, you have to be prepared. Specifically you need enough activities to keep everyone happily occupied for the duration of the quarantine period.

Get All of the Streaming Services

One is not enough. Two is not enough. Three is probably not enough. Give yourself plenty of options because everyone has different content. You can only watch so much Baby Yoda before you need some disturbing Locke & Key up in your life. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Disney +, HBO GO, ESPN +, etc. This is not the place to decide that your monthly spending needs a makeover. This also isn’t specific to the Corona quarantine…it’s just helpful to have for all those lazy weekends and “sick” days.

Deep Clean Your Home

LOL, I could barely write that without laughing – do something that makes you happy! If that happens to be cleaning, well how much do you charge because I, for one, do NOT like to spend my time cleaning.

Have Plenty of Food

Specifically limes, because limes make Corona better. When you start feeling that cough come on, grab your bottle of tequila, cut up a lime, and find some salt. You’ll be good as new in no time. Even if physically you’re not, mentally you’ll be feeling great. Stock your pantry with non-perishables and your freezer with everything that can be frozen (which is a surprising amount of things). Milk and fresh veggies will be great for a few days, but 30+ days is a long time so buy things that last…like chocolate.

Download Every Single Delivery App

You may not be able to leave your place of residence, but that doesn’t mean you can’t open your door. Besides, the apps are free to download so why not have UberEats, Grubhub, Postmates, Amazon, DoorDash, and any others you like ready in case of emergency. Someone will be delivering for when you inevitably run out of food (because, honestly, who knows how to grocery shop for a multi-week supply?!).

Loungewear FTW

If you’re not going anywhere, you don’t have anyone to impress. So get those sweats, hoodies, and any other oversized clothing you have washed up and ready to go. Comfort is the key to survival.

Find a New Hobby

There’s no better time to finally learn guitar, or to become a foodie, or a TikTok star, or a professional Fortnite player, etc. then when you literally can’t leave your home. Plus, there are no haters to crush your spirit. Unless you tell people, in which case, proceed at your own risk.

Order Your Summer Suit

The weather is usually on some wacky cycle, but this year is taking the cake. It’s only the beginning of March, but it’s basically summer – at least in the South. With summer comes bikini season and it’s never too early to start on the base tan. Order your summer suit so you can lounge on the porch / patio / balcony / deck … whatever you have to soak up all the rays that will be on display the next few weeks. On second thought, no one is outside anyways, underwear will work just fine. It’s also a great way to avoid people that are getting on your nerves and to remember what the freedom of the outdoors feels like.

Live Stream for Social Closeness

Obviously, our lives are the epitome of fascinating right now. So it’s only proper to share every single thing you are doing with your family, friends, co-workers, acquaintances, follow back peeps, etc. through a live stream. Stream yourself cooking, eating, playing with the dog, getting married, having a party (by yourself because the six foot rule is very real), doing karaoke, working out – literally anything! Well, except for tanning because that might be NSFW. Options are endless.

Alright, jumping off my pedestal for now. If you know someone who has been affected by the coronavirus, send them your love and hope for a full recovery. For everyone else, be prepared like a Boy Scout about to go on a camping trip … but an indefinite one. Thanks for reading!


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I WINE, YOU WINE, WE ALL WINE FOR A REFILL

I’m not a scientist, but I’m pretty sure that wine is what fuels the Earth’s core and keeps us happily rotating around a bright, hot ball people call the Sun. After all, sunlight helps plants grow, such as a vine. Which, last time I checked, looks a lot like a plant. It has a brown stick looking thing and some green leaves. Green leaves that also happen to produce juicy, delicious little orbs in multiple colors. If you carefully handle the vine, retrieve the orbs of goodness, gently place them in a barrel, then smash them all up it gives us the syrup of the sun: wine. Seems to me like a perfect lifecycle. In summary: wine makes the Earth go around the Sun, who in return for our never-ending presence, abundantly continues to produce the ingredients. Science.

The Sun is surprisingly human in this theory. It doesn’t want to be alone. Relatable? Yes. If you thought no, might I recommend making some friends? Nobody wants to be alone. So like a typical human, the Sun buys happiness and friendship with grapes…for wine. In case you forgot what this post was about. Relatable? Meh, I personally am not rich enough to buy my entourage so strangely enough they just like me. The Sun is a big star though so we probably live totally separate lives. It has over a million Twitter followers. Wait, sorry, that’s a London newspaper. The REAL Sun account only casually has like 13.5K, but follows NOBODY. Not sure how the other planets feel about this…seems like we could be nearing a revolt. Where everyone breaks off to find a better leader. One who follows back. Like a real friend. Although we have established the Sun simply buys planets with alcohol so I guess it’s not super genuine.

Coming back in from the black hole I just fell into, wine! If you don’t like wine, first of all you’re a liar. More importantly, now is a good time to start, don’t let the experts scare you off. Second, I don’t trust you. If I can’t drink two entire bottles of wine with you (one for each of us because I have restraint obviously) then how can I tell you any of my secrets. You’ll remember all of them. Mmm, nope sorry that would be two bottles of something either clear or brown. 

With wine, everything just sounds less serious and adult-y. Plus, wine comes in fun, approachable, warm colors: red, pink, and white. The colors of love. I mean, what else do you want?! You can literally drink love. Feeling stressed? Drink some love and feel better. Going through a bad breakup? Get some love in you. Lost your job? Pour a little love on those tears. I’m calling BS on anyone who doesn’t want more love in their life. So, in other words, everyone is a wine drinker. Even if you’re a closeted wine drinker. When you’re ready to admit that to the world, we will welcome you with open arms and a bottle of wine. 

Now, I will be the first to admit that I am no wine connoisseur. I could not tell you how old it is, where it came from, what the flavor palette consists of, which foods go best with it, etc. Mostly because I don’t care. I have simple criteria:

  1. Is there alcohol in it?
  2. Do I like the way it tastes?
  3. Can I find it on the bottom few shelves at the grocery store?

Apparently there are five steps to drinking wine (five!) and only one actually involves the drinking portion (or, the important part). If you are a well-seasoned wine drinker, then you can skip over this section. For all the blooming grape leaves, here are the recommended steps to enjoying your glass:

  1. See
  2. Swirl
  3. Sniff
  4. Sip
  5. Savor

That seems like four unnecessary actions here. Can I taste the hint of oak in there? No, because, believe it or not, I don’t go around tasting different types of tree bark. Sorry, not sorry that I prefer human food. There’s actually a term for this: barkstripper. I have to be honest, that does NOT sound like an innocent animal that gets its nutritional needs from a tree trunk. If you’re curious, there are seven types of barkstrippers:

  • Tree squirrels – makes sense
  • Beavers – also makes sense
  • Black bears – now I’m lost, just eat the honey
  • Field mice – are they strong enough to strip the bark?
  • Mountain beavers – this is oddly specific
  • Porcupines – I didn’t really think of these are needing to eat, more of just predators, but maybe that’s what the spikes are made of
  • Rabbits – I thought they ate vegetables…

I’m so curious now about what exactly the barkstrippers gain from eating wood. Is it an essential vitamin or mineral? Surely it’s not fat, carbs, or protein? Do they prefer certain tree types over others? Are certain trees the “upscale” bark and do those come at a higher price? Just why? There seems to be a lot of other options available.

Alright, jumping off my pedestal for now. If you know a wine drinker, pass this along so they can appreciate all the wine love. If you know someone who doesn’t (publicly) drink wine, share this so they can stop being ashamed. Thanks for reading!


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