On ham, being a ham, and why I love surveys

Less than an hour ago, Ben and I got out of the car to head into Giant, a local grocer.  We had the intention of using their Wi-Fi.  We’d been sitting in the parking lot, talking to my mom on speaker phone about wedding plans, and we’d gotten disconnected.  I needed to go to the bathroom really bad, so we decided to head on in to the store and wait for Mom to call back.

Or so I thought.

But that was before the ham.

Whence upon entering the grocery store, both of us lugging our laptops (because I hadn’t brought the carrying case), a grocer waiting at the doorway asked me a simple question.  It went something like this,

“Would you like to take a survey?”

Unfortunately for Ben, he was still in that section of the grocery store that has the mat and usually the carts, and sliding glass doors separated him from stopping me.

Already in the star-dazzled I’ve-been-asked-to-take-a-survey daze, I asked, “What’s it on?”  Or maybe she just volunteered the information.  It happened in somewhat of a blur.  😉

She said something like, “You’ll get to try two kinds of lunch meat ham and answer questions about it.”

Now, let’s back up for a moment.

I do not usually eat lunch meat.  Lunch meat, as a general rule, bothers my stomach.  Furthermore, I do not like the taste of most lunch meat very much.  If I do, rarely, eat lunch meat–unless it’s at a work function and I’m temptingly hungry–I only eat natural or organic.

Furthermore, I do not particularly care for cold lunch meat ham.  If I did splurge on lunch meat, it would probably be bologna or roast beef or thick-sliced ham.  Not thin-sliced, salty, salmon-colored lunch meat ham.

Poor Ben.

I was whisked away on the adventure of a survey and he was left coming in with a drying umbrella, laptop under one arm, and possibly wondering, What . . happened?

In fact, he said something very much along those lines.  He tried to ask me what I was doing.  But I felt far too important to answer him.  I was, after all, the winner of the prestigious You have been selected to answer regal questions about lunch meat ham survey.

He looked confused.  And a bit frustrated.  He thought we’d both established that we had to go to the bathroom.  He thought we were going to work on our computers for a quiet evening.  He wondered what I was doing as I snubbed him and walked over to a long, royal table with a cream tablecloth and several laptop computers.

As I was heading over, I heard the store attendant ask Ben, “Would you like to complete our survey too?”

Well, he was very fortunate.  Clearly she was inviting him because she’d seen he was with me.

I sat down in a wooden chair in front of a laptop computer with a smallish keyboard and a grocer served me a piece of lunch meat on a disposable plate.

Let’s back up a moment.  Do you remember when the grocer said something like, “You’ll get to try two kinds of lunch meat ham and answer questions about it.”?

Here’s what mattered most in that statement to me: “You get to try blah blah blah blah blah blah and answer questions about it.”

She could have said, “You get to try our new line of pumpkin squid stew and answer questions about it.”  (Although I would have drawn the line at aardvark squid stew.)

The important thing was, she was asking me to TALK!

I LOVE to TALK.

And I LOVE to take SURVEYS.

I love to tell my PREFERENCES (even on pumpkin squid stew or lunch meat).

I love for someone to want to know my OPINION.

My phone began buzzing.  Mom was calling me back.

Under my relationship with God, planning my wedding is one of the most important planned events coming up in my life right now.  It’s a serious responsibility.

But I ignored the call.

Since one of the survey questions on the laptop asked me about the aroma of the ham, I sniffed the ham authoritatively, as if the Food Network camera crew had just dropped me off for the day in front of the grocery store.  Then I chewed the ham.  It was still the way I remembered it.  Salty.  Salmon-colored.  Too thin.  And very lunch-meaty.

I did not rank that ham very high.

At some point, the phone had buzzed again . . and I think again.  I felt guilty, and tried to send a standard message, “Can’t talk right now.  Call you back in 15 minutes.”  There wasn’t a standard message for Doing ham survey.  And I didn’t want to answer the phone and lose the momentum of the importance of this moment.

Under the notes section for the first ham, I wrote what even I did not consider sagely or prose: Ordinary lunch meat ham.

Ben’s phone rang very shortly after my third call.

He said, “Your mom is calling me now.” with a slightly unfriendly tone, I might add, as he was sitting next to me at his laptop survey computer, fully aware that I hadn’t answered my phone.  He had the audacity in his tone to indicate that perhaps I should be answering the phone, perhaps since my mother has been devoting hours to wedding planning in the last several weeks.

I bungled some excuse to him, flustered by the interruption from the ham tasting, about trying to send her a message that I’d call her back.

The second ham was better.  Less salty.  More bland.

Ben at his second ham and answered the questions too fast.  ‘Clearly’, he wasn’t taking this seriously enough.  He finished his survey up.

Under the notes section for the second ham, I wrote in high culinary cuisine that the ham could be improved with a honey or maple or something else smell that I’ve already forgotten.

But we only got to answer questions about two lunch meats.  😦

I did manage to get an extra refill of my little water cup as I took the survey.  The grocers made sure we had enough water, were ready promptly with our ham plates, and one grocer said that if we had any questions, we should feel free to ask.  She was so friendly.

But then the attention ended.  😦 😦

I got a thank-you, a $1 off coupon, and then we had to leave the special table. (Awwww . . I do not WANT to leave the special table . .)

And then Ben (who’d also had to go to the bathroom all along) let me go first (remember we had our computers with us) . . without actually commenting anything about the delay or my regal ignoring of him while I sat down for the survey-by-special-invitation (i.e., by walking through the front door).

Mom got a good laugh when I called her back.  Avoiding talking about why I’d ignored her calls until she straight-up asked me, I did admit to taking a ham survey.

. . Why am I like this?

Why do the words, Do you want to take a survey? sound to me like, You have won a small jackpot!!

I see here in myself something very much like the beauty . . and the fall . . of Eve.

In the beauty, that I want to be loved.  I want to be special to someone.  I want for someone to want to know my heart.

In the fall, that, most of the time, I want to be important more than I want to love others.  I want to be special even if it isn’t to someone, but to something, like a ham survey.

For Eve, it was Satan talking through the serpent that lured her away from the beauty and into the fall.  The serpent talked to her.  He asked her a question.  He opened up her vulnerability to wanting to be special . . so that he could garbage her.

The tragedy was, she already had been special.  Btu she didn’t realize how much so until she took the first bite of trying for more specialness than what God had already fully given her.

The serpent knew that, when Eve fell, it would be her fall, not her beauty, that would define her.

But the talking serpent was wrong.

For shortly after, God gave Eve the hope of a redemptive beauty: One who would crush the head of the talking serpent and bring her beauty back to her.

Tonight, the ham survey reminded me of something.  I am prone, very prone, to coveting importance, in the wrong things.  Like a piece of ham.  And it’s easy, so easy, for me to lose sight of the real importance: that Jesus loves me–already fully.

My life should never be on center stage; the world doesn’t hinge on my opinion.  That spot is reserved for the One Redeemer of Eve (and Adam): Jesus Christ.

And that isn’t just my opinion.  That’s the reality of the only One who could destroy the mouth of the serpent.

I don’t need to take a survey to be special.

I can simply look at the nail-scarred foot that crushed the serpent’s head and remember:

I am loved. ❤

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Romans 5:8

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