March 2003 and Mother was on the mend. The hospital work was calling so I sailed back over the North Carolina mountains and back to the salt mines. I can’t say my job was terrible. We had a good CEO manning the Mother Ship who believed happy employees made a good hospital. Sandwiched between the usual periods of work, there were fun things going on. Being out in the boonies wasn’t the best place for being included in the happenings but someone made sure we weren’t left out.
There was a salsa contest with prizes. I’d never made salsa before but I figured I knew what tasted good so I set to work when I got home. I chopped, minced and mixed until I had something I felt was worthy of entering. The next day, I loaded it up into a quart jar with a blue plastic lid and took it in. Each container was assigned a number and there was a master list to show which one belonged to which employee.
The time came for judging. All the entrants gathered in the cafeteria. Four judges were called in from who-knows-where. I certainly didn’t know any but one and she was a nursing home resident. They were given samples of each of the containers along with chips to shovel it in. They seriously contemplated each mouthful and finally got the top ones down to three. Third place wasn’t difficult at all but the other two were tied. The judges couldn’t come to a clear decision. That’s what comes of having an even number of judges.
Just then, one of the doctors walked through. Someone grabbed him and asked him to break the tie. The people conducting the contest surreptitiously put some of the salsa out for him to taste. I watched closely and—one of the containers was a quart jar with a blue plastic lid! I caught my breath and felt like everything was moving very slowly.
He loaded a chip with first one, then the other salsa. It didn’t take him long at all to indicate which was his choice. I couldn’t tell if it was mine at that point but I was hoping.
Third place was announced, then second. My name hadn’t been called. I held my breath. The prizes for second and third were nice but nothing special. Then first place and it was ME!! I went up to collect the prize—a DVD player. You could have knocked me over with a feather. My first attempt at making salsa and I won!
All of the salsa entries were lined up on a table with plates and bowls of chips. The employees ate salsa and chips to their hearts’ content. I felt like a celebrity. People were asking me for my recipe and I gladly complied. The fact that it was “a little of this and a little of that” made no difference.
I went home to Twinkle bearing my empty jar and my DVD player and she didn’t care for either one.
As I so often did, I consoled myself for her disdain by eating. My favorite meal was fried potatoes and onions with scrambled eggs, toast and avocado. Fat City. And the weight kept piling on.