Chili Cookoff Memories


Image courtesy of Jramspott. Licensed under CC BY 2.0.

I tend to think of myself as not particularly memorable–I’m quiet, average height, and brunette, and none of those things keep me fresh in folks’ minds. As such, it’s always kind of startling when someone does, in fact, remember that I attended something.

Earlier this weekend, I spent a few hours passing out shirts at the Atlanta Pride Festival, which was great fun. The Pride crowd are a friendly bunch, and everyone loves free t-shirts. Unfortunately, our popularity meant that our most-loved swag items (hats, this time) went quickly.

One of the folks who missed out on a hat knew what was up with the Atlanta festival scene, and asked us if we would be at the Chomp and Stomp. chili cookoff. We assured her we most likely would be, and she should be sure to come and see us–and our fresh batch of swag–there.

Chomp and Stomp is pretty much my favorite Atlanta festival, as it focuses on my favorite general part of festivals (food) and is in an utterly charming residential neighborhood named Cabbagetown. (I’ve always assumed the name was a slur towards an ethnic group, but the truth of that has faded to history.)

I had previously heard two versions of last year’s festival.

The first was mine. I was there with my parents, and I had just a week or two before applied to work at my current company. When we passed the swag booth I was delighted. It seemed like a good sign, and I was worried since I hadn’t heard back from them yet.

My mother, given her more-or-less complete disinterest in technology companies, was not familiar with what this company did. I was excited to be able to point to something else–a whimsical hat–for her to think of it as a real thing, and brought her over to the booth to explain that that was the company I’d applied to. She had (at least in my memory) just started losing her hair, and I thought she might like a hat. I was tickled, and couldn’t believe they were giving the hats and stickers out for free. I don’t know that I ever saw her wear the thing, but I was glad that she had it.

The second was a coworker’s. When I was hired, a couple of months later, I saw an email inviting folks to come help out at another event. I mentioned that I had seen them out at Chomp and Stomp, and how much I had enjoyed it.

The coworker who sat next to me perked up. It turned out that he had been at Chomp and Stomp, working the booth. He had only been working there for a few months at the time, and (I think) was pleased to hear that the table had made a good impression. I joked that clearly their efforts paid off, since they’d gotten me out of the deal.

I told both versions of the story to the woman I was working the both with today, at which point she looked surprised.

“Oh my god,” she said, “I totally remember you.”

It turned out that she had only heard part of what I’d said to my mother–that this was the company I’d applied to–and assumed that I had been rejected.

“It was so awkward. I felt so bad..”

I laughed, and assured her she didn’t need to. Clearly, it had worked out. (And the delay in the hiring process meant that I got my “you’re hired” call on New Year’s Eve, which was a pretty excellent way to end the year.) But it was funny to think that I was remembered from that event at all, and that–potentially–I might see some of the faces from today on the floor with me in the future. Atlanta is a tiny town, sometimes.

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