I recently dishonored myself by accepting a few bucks to take part in a taste test conducted by the fine people at Hot Pockets.
If you’ve never been to one of these things, they are truly a strange and artificial experience. Gathered together in a church basement, I sat alongside 30 or so other folks at a precisely-arranged row of tables. As we waited to begin, no eye contact was made and a punishing silence filled the air. All present seemed acutely aware of the shame that they had brought upon themselves. A Marxist might say that we had been coaxed to alienate ourselves from our very selves under the pressures of the foundational structure of capitalism. At the very least, the occasion had prompted all of us to assess the wrong turns in our lives that led us to now eat Hot Pockets for cash.
A group of middle aged ladies in hairnets proceded to set a series of Hot Pockets in front of us. Sitting on small styrofoam plates and under the green-gray fluorescent lighting, the deflated meat pouches looked limp and miserable. We were told to look at, smell, and eat at least three bites of each sample before filling out a unecessarily thorough questionaire. This pointlessly clinical precision and artificiality only heightened my despair. With every obligatory bite I took, it became more obvious that the truth was not in me.
Having said this, be thankful dear readers for the scorn that I heaped upon Sample #319. It was one of the worst things I have ever encountered. If it somehow makes it to market, it should be packaged as “Pepperoni Afterbirth.”
A day later, I have begun to come to terms with what happened. Yes, I betrayed my own human dignity for thirty pieces of silver. Yes, I still can’t get the Hot Pocket prototype taste out of my mouth. But these are the compromises we all must make. This is the life I have chosen for myself. In the wake of my stuffed sandwich shame, I have embraced the sirens of moral relativism and self-loathing.
If anybody wants to see somebody eat out of a litter box for $50, you know who to call.