The Alternative Turkey Hotline

turkey-dinnerBack before the Google, when people needed a phone number that they didn’t have, they picked up their landline and dialed 4-1-1.

The formal name for this service was “Directory Assistance”, but everyone called it simply “Information”. Need to call the movie theater to find out what movies are playing, but don’t have the number? Just call Information!

Well, one day, when I was in college, sometime in November 1984, I was hanging out day-drinking with my buddies, we had purchased a frozen turkey the day before, but we were grappling with the fact that not one among us had any idea how to prepare and roast the thing.

In my drunkenness, I joked that we should call Information and ask. After all, it’s called “Information”, not, more narrowly, “Phone Information”. (These things are always funnier when you are intoxicated.)

Anyway, my joke was immediately met with an uproar of approval and insistence, and, before I could protest, the phone was passed to me, 4-1-1 dialed, and I was on the phone with some gal from who knows where.

Much to my surprise, rather than being met with massive annoyance and summarily hung up on, the operator was delighted and humored me, providing me with her family’s recipe from memory, along with cautions about thawing and a warning not to cook the stuffing inside the turkey.

Anyway, I was reminded of this memory when I saw this tweet today:

I didn’t know about the Butterball hotline back in college, but I’m actually glad that I didn’t. I’ll always fondly remember that directory assistance operator’s act of arguably undeserved kindness.

Just as I’ll always fondly remember this scene from The West Wing:

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Thanks, giving

givingWelcome to the Thanksgiving Infinite Feedback Loop!

Try googling “thanks, giving,” and you’ll find that Google doesn’t know what to do with it:

Showing results for thanksgiving
Search instead for thanks, giving

Click on “Search instead for thanks, giving” and Google asks:

Did you mean: thanksgiving

Um, no, I didn’t mean “thanksgiving,” and the 353,000,000 results you provided — on the history of the holiday, recipes, crafting ideas, NFL football game schedule, etc. — based on my “thanks, giving” query were not what I was looking for.

Switch over to Google Images with the same query and a similar thing happens. Google can’t conceive of any reason why those two words, separated by a comma, shouldn’t be answered by anything other than turkeys, live turkeys, dead and roasted turkeys, cartoon turkeys both alive and dead, turkeys wearing pilgrim clothing, pumpkins, fall foliage, and an infinite number of greeting card-esque platitudes.

But, I did find a way out of the Thanksgiving Infinite Feedback Loop.

Type in “put the giving in thanksgiving” — because, you know, humans love humorous puns, like “he put the fun in dysfunctional” — and with it Google finds all kinds of well-intentioned content on the interwebs titled Put the Giving in Thanksgiving.

There’s been volumes and volumes written on the virtues of gratitude, and there is a LOT of merit and a time and place for the practice of thankfulness.

But, on this Thanksgiving Eve I feel compelled by some awful stuff happening in the world to focus on the second word in the compound word that is Thanksgiving.

Just a few examples:

  • I’ve donated some money to my Native American brothers and sisters to aid in their fight for their rights and our planet at Standing Rock, and I plan to donate more.
  • My band, Sleepy Alligators, will be playing at the local #GivingTuesday event, raising money for the food bank and two youth summer camps.
  • Rather than stressing over all the work involved in hosting and cooking a Thanksgiving meal for our 12 guests, I have reframed it as an act of giving.

It feels good!

If you can, please consider giving as well.

It might be cliché, but it is true: every little bit helps.

Happy Thanksgiving!