Normally we spend Sundays relaxing and preparing for the start of a new school week, but this past weekend was a little different. Waking up just after seven in the morning, Kerri and I had to get ready for a TV interview with the local Fox News station here in San Diego. While viewers at home would get to see us in our kitchen and in our garden, the fantasy of the televised world would give no indication that my day actually started with picking up dog poop in the backyard.
In my pajama pants and flip-flops, I worked my way through the muddy terrain that has become our dog's private outdoor park, thinking of what to say during the interview with the reporter. Would she ask us to cook a sample meal? Did she want to know what inspired us to eat on the cheap? How could I make this opportunity one to advocate for better food stamp allocation policies in our county?
With one hand in an old newspaper bag, and the other holding the handle on a grocery bag, I continued groping through the calf-high clovers that had sprouted up due to the recent rain. I wondered if she would end up coming back here with the camera crew, and if they would appreciate the prep work I had done in order to prevent an unfortunate misstep.
Upon her arrival we were surprised at her youth, and by the fact that there was no camera crew, or sound tech, or anyone else with her; she was on her own. While we worked our way through the niceties that are required for these accelerated relationships,I could see her trying to figure out how to tell this story about the couple who ate on a dollar a day.
Checking her Blackberry for the press release, she hot-stepped through the landscape of related questions: "Why does an orange cost the same amount as a tablespoon of salad dressing?", "How many people are currently receiving SNAP benefits (food stamps)?", "Was it hard to do this?" One by one I responded to the questions, misspeaking at times, and hoping that she would know what to clean up.
After letting her get footage of the inside of our cupboards and refrigerator, it was time to go out to the backyard so she could get shots of our garden. After my morning poop-patrol, I felt confident in letting Kerri lead her to the beginnings of our humble vegetable patch. Once she had shots of us pulling weeds, and showing off our rainbow chard, she packed up and informed us that the story would air both that evening, and on Monday's six o'clock news. When we finally saw the finished video online, we were thankful not only that we had tidied up for our guest, but for the time she had taken to tidy up our story to share with others.
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Christopher Greenslate and Kerri Leonard are high school teachers who live in Encinitas, California. Greenslate founded the school district's social justice program as a forum for students to act on important current issues. Leonard was named San Diego/Imperial Valley Speech and Debate League Coach of the Year in 2008. On a Dollar a Day: One Couple's Unlikely Adventures in Eating in America is their first book.
Books mentioned in this post
Christopher Greenslate and Kerri Leonard is the author of On a Dollar a Day: One Couple's Unlikely Adventures in Eating in America