RichGriese.NET Enjoy life... eat out more often!

Eat out more often!

Here’s why the tag line of my site is “Enjoy life… eat out more often!”

The actual words come from a west coast restaurant supply company called S. E. Rykoff, and the phrase appeared on the side of their trucks as “ENJOY LIFE! EAT OUT MORE OFTEN!” I’ve adjusted the capitalization, and replaced the first exclamation point with three dots (I love the whole three dot pause thing). And since I used to deliver coffee to restaurants, I noticed the trucks all the time. I’ve always like the phrase, and over the years I’ve actually used it to build an entire philosophy around.

All this was back in the 1990s, and this phrase was the third phrase that I remember liking, and feel has had an impact on my life. The first was the Nike phrase “Just do it”… yeah… how can you not like that one? I’m probably not the only person who liked it, and often thought back to it when making this or that decision. The second hit me much later. I’m not even sure if it is a slogan or just the name of the company. No Fear was/is a clothing company, and the slogan or company name caught my eye on t-shirts. These two slogans I considered “my favorites”, and thought of them as a set… my set… of values, or motivational reminders.

So to that dynamic duo, I added “enjoy life…”. It’s not one I started saying, or thinking of when making decisions right away, it was more like something that stuck in my head, like the theme from the Brady Bunch. When I started actually saying it, it was a sort of “good bye” expression. Like if I was leaving a friend I might say “And remember… enjoy life… eat out more often” and walk out the door. Seemed snappier than “see ya”.

So… cut to years later. I’ve always done a lot of thinking, perhaps too much thinking (but that’s another blog post) and a few years back I was thinking about society, the internet, and community… and was stuck on this idea I had that, sure the internet is awesome for communities, but one of the problems of the internet was the whole anonymous troll thing. I’m gonna wiz past and throw out some crazy shit here cause I want to keep to the “enjoy life” phrase thing, but… I was thinking out how one might build a social network based on real identities. How one could have a forum where folks could talk together, but to get access to it you would have to go to some location in a town like a church or the library to get a login to the group. That way, you could have a sort of town social network and everyone in town that wanted to participate could do so. I tried to find some place in town that I could start a sort of weekly or monthly group, where I could give out logins, and combine it with a sort of club where folks that understood the web could mentor folks that didn’t understand it that well… a sort of monthly mixer where word would get around, and within a few months folks interested in technology would start showing up. I was never able to convince any group with a appropriate building to try the idea. But… as time went on and all the obvious locations like churches, and the library became no goes… I started to think about Starbucks, and later restaurants, and these food centered locations combined with another what I’ll call “community” thought I had started to turn this idea into more of a personal philosophy.

At the time I was going to a lot of churches. I had moved back to my home town after being away for years. I had studied the history of Christianity for many years at this point, but was never a church attender. I thought one way to get to know folks in town was to start going to churches, and meet others, and they’d love that I was actively interested in Christian history, and we’d talk about it in person and online. At one point I was going to all the Roman Catholic & Mainline protestant churches in town somewhat regularly. I never actually found anyone in any of the churches that was interested in the topic, but as a result of now attending these Catholic Masses & Protestant services I started thinking about them from a sort of “re-engineering” stand point. I was analyzing them thinking… the homily/sermon could really be a blog or podcast that I consume when I wanted not at a particular meeting time, the music could be watched/listened to on YouTube, a bible study could be done via chat or a forum… and found that I broke things into two types; “content & contact”. All the content could be delivered and consumed over the web, but contact with other human beings at coffee hours & dinners could not be truly replicated over the web.

I started to look at the world as content and contact events. Church stuff, football games, trustee meetings, 4th of July fireworks, golf, concerts, plays, street fairs, book clubs, etc… Everything I looked at and thought about I tried to break into “what’s the content element?” & “what’s the contact element?” And I found over time I was seeing three behaviors in society. There was the content, and there was contact, but the contact was broken further into two main types; (1) eating together and (2) doing some activity (golf, yoga, running, etc…) together. But almost always a activity followed an eating together relationship or event. People planned their activities over coffee at Starbucks or dinners together. Sure… people also texted & called to do this, but, more often than not if you are going to get together to go to a concert, you have already met & eaten together with that person sometime prior to that.

I began to see the critical physical social event was eating together. When people eat together they talk to each other and build relationships. Since they are sitting at a table together it’s a handy time to exchange mobile numbers, email addresses, USB sticks, a hug, and anything that requires a physical presence. I began to see that if you combined something like a monthly banquet lunch or dinner with an online forum / chat you could build a really awesome town centered social network.

And it’s then that I reached back to the old S.E. Rykoff slogan to sum it up in a single phrase “Enjoy life… eat out more often”, or, since I was going to lots of churches at the time, I would try to explain to folks in churchy language that when Jesus is reported to have said “Do this in memory of me”, the “this” he was talking about was getting together with friends and eating together. The last supper. I even joked and said, I could probably build a whole religion around the eating together at restaurants thing… after all… in the gospel stories Jesus did pretty much the same thing.