This Might Explain Why I Don’t Camp September 24, 2014

Filed under: Humor — aniederkorn @ 7:13 pm
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I don’t camp. In the immortal words of Ms. Karen Walker of Will and Grace, the only stars I’m sleeping under are five stars. Unless you’ve got a big RV or a camper of some sort, there’s a safe bet I won’t be joining you in the middle of the woods.

My husband, on the other hand, wants to hike the Appalachian Trail someday. In case you were wondering, that would require about four months straight of tent sleeping. When he asked me if I would join him, I could only answer after my five-minute long laughter attack.

“Yeah…we can’t even flip a mattress together without things getting into a fight. I don’t think we want to test the waters with mosquito-infested trails, steep mountains, minimal showers and actual tent camping. For four months straight.”

Okay, to be fair…yes, I would join him and visit him along some points of the trail (preferably the flat-terrain parts and the part where I am only 40 miles from New York City). So it made we wonder…where did I get this aversion to camping? It’s not like I’ve even tried it that much. But then it hit me.

Jellystone Campground.

That is my earliest (and last) camping memory, and I’m not sure it was entirely positive. And I even have photographic proof!

Exhibit A: Here I am at Jellystone Campground, merely one year old, innocently getting a backpack ride with my Dad (clearly rocking that 70’s mustache).


All seems cool, right?

Exhibit B: Cut to five minutes later, when I encounter this dinosaur-sized, menacing bear!


Now to the outside world, Yogi is just this normal-sized bear. (Well…normal-size bear costume.) But to this day I still remember him as this giant grizzly, ready to come down and snatch me away from my dad.

So apparently sometime after this tragic meet-and-greet, I decided I wanted to run around a bit and not stay anywhere near my family. Frankly I think I was suffering from some post-traumatic-stress symptoms from encountering the giant bear. Either that or I was in my terrible twos and just wanted to run away. Constantly. I don’t know, you decide…but anyway, my parents must have gotten a bit tired of chasing me, so they tried this creative solution.

Exhibit C: 1970’s Child Restraint


Yup, that’s me in the family car. (Was it a burnt orange Maverick? I think so). One end of that rope is tied around my waist, and the other end is tied to the steering wheel. I look pretty happy to be playing inside the car. I must have then started doing something wrong (beeping the horn, perhaps?) because later I was then banished outside the car, where I could still roam on my leash…at least within a 15 feet radius.

I can only assume that these traumatizing events had a direct effect on my distaste for camping to this day.  Oh, and maybe the fact that I like daily showers, a comfortable mattress and a bug-free room. I’m no dummy…in fact I may be smarter than the average bear.


Here’s Why I Will Never Understand Engineers September 1, 2014

Filed under: Humor — aniederkorn @ 5:44 pm

My stepson just left for his first year of college. He wants to study engineering. At least for now. As I hugged him goodbye, I told him that it’s okay if he ever wants to change his mind. The most important thing is that he’s happy, after all.


Plus there’s the fact that I can’t understand engineers.


I first realized that engineers’ brains worked very differently from mine when I was in a marketing class for my MBA. There happened to be a lot of engineers in the class, and it kind of amused me how much they struggled. They were looking for black and white answers, and when they were tasked with putting together marketing strategies and such, they quickly found out that nothing was that cut and dry. There were no magic formulas to help them explain their answers. As someone who had painfully toiled through math classes, it gave me a bit of guilty pleasure to watch them squirm. 


But then they just started to annoy me.


Enter the team project. I understand that classes nowadays (and back then – ten years ago) put great emphasis on team projects so that everyone could learn how to get along. And after all, teamwork is often necessary and important in many jobs. But I admit, sometimes I wish I could just do the project myself, especially when someone was a horrible writer…or an engineer.


But I joke. Sort of.


I was paired with an engineer and two research scientists. Fantastic. Three completely logical, left-brained people along with me, the right brainer they will inevitably drive crazy.


The project consisted of this: We were to pick a line of products that our company manufactured (the class was all in the same company) and then we were to go visit an area retailer several times to study how our products were displayed. We’d then write about product positioning, issues with the store in general, store layout, how our brand was perceived, etc.


The company I worked for manufactured consumer products like tissues, diapers, toilet paper, paper towels, and feminine hygiene products. My team decided to go rogue and pick the unpopular choice: feminine hygiene products. I guess I should also explain that when you work for a company who manufactures such products, you grow a little too accustomed to them. The plants that made feminine hygiene products would often have big bulletin board displays with a bunch of different maxi pads stapled to them. And nobody really blinked in eye; it was just your business.


I didn’t realize just how normal this business had become until my team and I made our first store visit. We had decided to visit a big box store, and we made our way to the health and beauty section and finally found all the pads, liners and tampons lined up against a back wall. If you are a woman, you know that it’s pretty overwhelming. All you want to do is grab your normal kind, hide the box under other stuff in your cart, then go on your merry way. However, manufacturers have made this pretty much impossible because there are so many varieties and shapes and wings and scents and thicknesses and lengths and packaging materials. Will I be able to go horseback riding with this one or not? Was that in the commercial? I can’t remember…it’s kind of exhausting. Some previous visitor to that section must have felt the same way because she left an empty nacho container on the ledge next to the tampons. Hell, that chick was there so long she needed sustenance while she made her decision! (Side note: When we visited the same store a week later, the same empty container was still there. Ewww.)


So there we are, four dopes studying the feminine hygiene displays, studiously taking notes, and along comes a woman. As predicted, it takes her a bit to study everything. She is standing there for over a minute when one of my team members – you guessed it, the engineer…who is MALE – casually says to the woman, “So, are you having trouble finding your kind?”


Ah…always the researcher, that one.


Needless to say, the other two teammates (who were women) and I and I looked at each other and openly cringed. He did not just do that. He did not just ask a complete stranger if she was having trouble finding the right maxi pad. And we all got the feeling that he would have gone on with more questions if the woman had not grabbed the closest box and sprinted away.


If I were a less tactful person, I would have blurted out something along the lines of, “What the hell were you thinking? This isn’t a lab at work! You are a creeper  who is asking a stranger about her feminine hygiene habits in the middle of a store! Don’t you see anything wrong with this picture?”


But he’s an engineer. So he didn’t.


And so I won’t ever really understand engineers, and that’s okay. I’m glad there are people who actually care how things function, because I never was that person. I just want it to work.


Period. (Pun fully intended.)