Friday, August 05, 2016

Doin' Time at Costco

I recently worked a demo booth at my local Costco for two weeks. For reasons. 

It wasn't on the first draft of my list of Things to Do This Summer; but neither was swim with an alligator, lip sync Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy or have an ongoing inner dialogue about the pros and cons of breaking up with Facebook – yet I managed to fit all of these things into this season! I guess I was just feeling productive. 

I've worked trade shows numerous times … but this was different. This was Costco. Here are some highlights of two-weeks worth of observations. 

If you stand in Costco long enough, the entire world walks by. 

98% of that world already owns a Bosch Mixer. 

80% of those who own a Bosch Mixer will yell at you, “I love my Bosch!” Most likely in an attempt to stop you from trying to sell them one. 

We live among people who will eat Costco pizza at 10:30 AM. 

There are a lot of people at Costco not dressing their truth. (Extra points if you get this reference.)

It takes three days of eating samples of pot stickers before you get sick of them. 

You can eat endless samples of Brazilian cheese bread, grass-fed beef, and Belgium waffles with Nutella and never get sick of them. 

The quickest way to reduce people to animalistic, post-apocalyptic behavior is to offer free samples. 

People offering samples don't care how many you eat, from a supply point of view. But they will judge you for the sheer amount you consume. They quietly judge you with their eyes. And sometimes not as quietly, with their words. 

If you're working a booth, and you don't offer samples, you're a leper and you should be ashamed of yourself. 

A genuine smile and “hello” from somebody passing by will absolutely make your day. You will have to exercise the greatest level of restraint to not leave your booth and hug that person and ask them if they'd like to chat for a few minutes over some grass-fed beef. 

Standing for 11 hours in one spot is not natural. Your body will hurt. In weird places. 

If you walk by a booth and the person working it doesn't at least engage you in eye contact, it is because they have just farted and don't want you to come anywhere near them. (They have to stand there for 11 hours! Cut them some slack! Let's see how YOU do after devouring 11 pot stickers!) 

Get your heads out of your phones, guys. Our country's greatest form of entertainment is other people's children. Adorable babies abound in Utah County, yes. But my favorite was the four-year old who had clearly skipped nap time (since the Tuesday before) and, through tears of rage and screams of inhumanity, was using both hands to pick up every item in the cart and hurl it at the floor as fast as he could, while the parents made a bee-line for the front doors, suddenly losing interest in actually making any purchases. I don't know the back-story of what was happening here, but something tells me it's a tale as old as time. 

Speaking of back-stories. I made one up for somebody. My first day on the job, a gentleman rolled his cart over and started asking me some genuine questions about the product I was selling. We talked for several minutes, and I observed the number of items already in his cart. He eventually wandered off. “Nice guy,” I thought to myself. About 10 min later he swung by again and let me know he'd talked to his girlfriend, and she wasn't interested in the product I had. Fine. About two hours later ... he came by again … I was intrigued. What in the world was this guy doing, loitering in a Costco for hours upon hours in the middle of a work week? And then it dawned on me. 

He's casing the joint. 

I wondered if I should tell management about this shifty dude, late 40s, Lindsey Buckingham look-a-like, that's clearly looking to move some real merchandise from this place. 

Then, several hours later … he came by again. This time, with completely different things in his cart. Like, he had put stuff back (or stolen it) and now had a fresh load of goods in his cart. That's when it dawned on me. 

He's a widow. 

He lost his wife and has become quite reclusive. He suffers from anxieties and the only thing he really does that makes him feel normal is venturing out to large, busy retail locations. He can strike up conversations with people and act like he is just your average citizen with a “to do” list. Then it occurs to me. My gosh. This man is me. If I were his age and I lost Katie, this is what I would become!!! My heart broke for this guy. I wanted to invite him over for dinner. 

Then the next morning … I saw him again. And he had a Costco name badge on. And I realized he was shopper security. And then I was embarrassed. So I decided as long as I was embarrassed, I might as well go binge on Belgium waffles with Nutella until somebody shoos me away. 

Aside from people I didn't know, I also bumped into a crazy amount of people I did know. Well over 100. 

I saw a girl I dated my freshman year in college, 1989. We laughed, played “do you remember the time,” and realized we both had 16-year olds that should go out sometime. (Because, you guys, 16-year olds love nothing more than for their parents to get involved in their love life.) 

I saw the parents of a girl I dated in 1993. The mom hugged me. She was always so kind. 

I saw … 

A guy I became friends with in the LDS Missionary Training Center who I hadn't seen since 1990. 
Young adults I knew in Las Vegas who now live here and are getting married. 
Missionaries I knew in Las Vegas who now live here but aren't getting married. 
Good friends who would visit with me for long stretches of time and act super interested in my mixers. 
People I used to work with. 
People I used to perform improv with in college. 
My good friend Matt? His mom. 
An old LDS mission companion. 
A guy I used to play racquetball with in Las Vegas. 
Neighbors, old friends, new friends.... you get the picture. 

That was really my favorite part of the Costco experience. Seeing people from my past and present, and visiting with them. I know some really wonderful people. 

Of course, visiting with them also made it so that I had to explain why I was working a booth at Costco. The real reason was boring and required a longer explanation than I cared to dive into. So I got pretty creative. 


“I'm just filling in for a friend who's on his lunch break.”

“I recently bought the company and I'm interested in discovering public opinion on my own.” 

“It's always been on my Bucket List to do this, and I know a guy.” 

“I'm just doing some consulting and this is a weird part of the gig.” 

“I'm actually a secret shopper.” 

“This is just my day job.” 

“Why did you come over here? Didn't you notice I wouldn't make eye contact with you? No, I don't know what smells vaguely like pot stickers.” 

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas in 2015!

2015. Let me ‘splain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up. 

I had the privilege of playing the Bishop in the beloved Once I Was a Beehive! I love the friendships that came out of this amazing experience. The producers also sent me to Las Vegas to introduce the film and do Q&As. To see so many friends come out in support reminded me that a part of my heart will always be there. And no, being in a movie hasn't landed me any stalkers. I don't even have my own table at Burger Supreme! (That's my barometer for knowing I've "made it.") 

Other highlights: Working at Food for Health, serving in the bishopric, finding grey chest-hairs. 

Katie turned 40 and we had a party, with amazing performances and tributes!

I got to be the emcee...and give the final tribute. 

Our friend, Patrick, who composed an amazing, original birthday song for Katie.

Katie's sister, Rachel, giving us "Katie's Hairstyles Through the Years."

Jonelle, paying a lovely, moving tribute like only she could. 

Katie and Lisa, improv-ing what their Provo-based talk show would look like. 
It's a crime that this show doesn't exist. 

The Craig kids, performing their dance interpretation of Men in Black. 

Eric D. Snider, performing one of Katie's favorite songs from his vast library of hits.

Other Katie highlights: Year 12 of homeschooling, serving as Primary President, had a BYU Freshman Roommates reunion. It was adorable, you guys. 

Also, Katie and I celebrated our 20-year anniversary! 

This 5-minute video represents those 20 years. How do you condense 20 years into 5 minutes? You make a hard and fast rule that any clips must involve dancing or dance-like manuevering. 

Other highlights: Katie and I also went back to our roots – where we first met – performing improv! A couple of times a month we perform at Comedy Sportz! 


We also starred in this Doritos commercial, which did NOT get selected for the Super Bowl [sad trombone sound], but thank you all for the support, anyway. We loved making it. 

Abbie is 18. Graduated high school and started college at BYU, moved onto campus, and got a lead part in a main stage production at BYU! She also sent us this video of her and her roommate, Sariah. 


Garren is 16. Driving, dating, and working at Comedy Sportz! He sort of makes me feel embarrassed that I ever thought I was cool at 16, because he is absolutely nailing it. 

Connor is 14. I'm telling you right now, this was his highlight this year. You can read about it here. Constantly creating - either in his mind, on a sketch pad, or with tools. I'm jealous of his creativity.

Roxanna is 12. She is officially a Beehive. She loves the cello, her baking skills are off the chart, and she is a smiley soul. (Pictured here with Grandma Fillmore.)

Tanner is 10. The Force Awakens blew his mind; and him venturing out into the Pacific with his little sister on a paddle board blew mine. 

Becca is 7. Loves the violin and has fully recovered from a traumatic head injury this summer. I still don't love talking about it.  


Lucy is 4. She makes up the best songs and is at my favorite age - where they say whatever comes to their mind and assume all their observations are completely accurate. 

Hillary is 2. She is speaking in full sentences. Her favorite one seems to be when you urgently ask her to do something and she answers, "Hold on a minute." 

Biggest Adventure This Year: We made a trip to southern California, where I lived growing up. 

What it looks like traveling in our van. With Garren driving. 

When I made all of us pull over in the Joshua Tree National Forest 
so my sons and I could re-enact the cover of U2's album. 

Santa Monica Pier

Hollywood's famous Pink's Hot Dogs. Also, if you look closely, you'll see the cutest thing ever captured on film. 
20-month old Hillary pulling Becca's face close to her for the shot. Can you stand it?!

That's the Hollywood Sign behind us. Objects in photo are closer than they appear. 

Touching the temple! The L.A. Temple, to be exact. 

At the beach. I loved this day. 

Stopping at my parents' house for a quick selfie. Don't they look amazing?! 

Visiting Katie's parents, on a mission in California - almond and pistachio farms. Delicious. 
The fields were ripe and ready to harvest! HAHAHA! I'm funny. 

Sailing and seal watching!

This is my cousin Lisa. I hadn't seen her since I was probably 10. We got to catch up on the last 34 years! 
I adore her and her husband, Mark. They are generous and kind, and I love claiming them as family!

Other highlights:

Stake Pioneer Trek at Martin's Cove.

Inspired by our incredible friend, Matti. 

First Portugal Lisbon North mission reunion in 20 years! 
We waited too long to take the picture, most people had left. 
Great to visit with some incredible friends. 

Halloween: Craig Wax Museum

Thanksgiving dinner. 

When I look back on the details of 2015, I am able to immediately recognize how much would not have happened without the influence, love, and help of so many. I feel my Heavenly Father's love manifested by the people He places in my life. I am blessed to have extraordinary family and friends play an immeasurable role in the good that surrounds me. I love this time of year. I am grateful for the Savior, Jesus Christ, and all that is available through Him. Merry Christmas! Thank you for being my friends! 

Sunday, August 30, 2015

A Moment in Time, Part 2

Katie and I recently celebrated our 20-year anniversary. We were married August 17, 1995. It was a Thursday. 1:00 p.m. Salt Lake City. It was hot, and it was inconvenient for almost everyone. And it was the best day ever in the history of days. Truly. I polled *everyone. (*Katie and myself.)

As part of our celebration, I made a video for Katie – narrowing down 20 years to 4.5 minutes. This was achieved because my brother, Dehn, who is a master with film production, suggested I just select a theme, and whatever footage doesn’t fit with that theme doesn’t get in the video. No matter how cute. That made it easier for me. I chose the theme of dancing/performing. Here it is:

On the night of the 17th, when I got home from work, our kids had set up dinner for Katie and I. They had turned the kitchen into a restaurant. Abbie had prepared the food. Garren and Connor were our waiters. Roxanna, Tanner, Becca and Lucy provided the music. Hillary was the loud drunk at the next table who insisted on wandering over and sampling our food. Especially dessert.

We loved it.

Katie and I had gotten engaged at The Underground, a restaurant in Provo that no longer exists. So the kids called this “restaurant” The Above Ground. They printed menus, with most of the meals being inside jokes. Example: “The Hot Pocket, with a side of Pepto.” (Jim Gaffigan reference.) Garren would say things like, “Are you celebrating anything special this evening? Oh! 20 years?! Well, at The Above Ground, all couples celebrating a 20-year anniversary eat free.”

When Katie and I had been married only a few weeks, both still students at BYU, we were going to bed one late evening when she said, “I can’t wait until we are done with school. We are going to be so wealthy.” Surprised and excited, I said, “We are?!” She said, “Yes, of course. You’re so talented, it’s just inevitable.” She fell asleep, and I stayed up, so happy and flattered in her confidence of our imminent wealth, and plotting all the ways we would spend this abundance. Well ... It’s 20 years later, and I think I can safely say … the joke’s on Katie.

Kind of.

We are not, by any definition, frolicking in piles of cash. (I believe that's officially one of the barometers of wealth, correct?) But when I look at our children and this life we’ve created together. When I look at where we live. When I look at the people who have played such intricate roles in our life and influenced us for good. When I look at all that is still before us. And when I look at Katie and see that she still has that same confidence in me that she did 20 years ago – the same confidence in us – I would absolutely use the word "wealth" and “abundance” to describe this extraordinary ordinary life.

Friday, August 21, 2015

A Moment in Time, Part 1

This is us. The Ken and Katie Craig Family. This is a #familyselfie taken last Sunday, on the eve of mine and Katie’s 20th anniversary. We took it to capture a very precise moment. A moment that is fleeting. A moment that I wish were more...still.

It’s the last moments of having my family all under one roof. And I kind of love this moment.

Don’t get me wrong. I am super excited for my oldest, Abbie, who will move into her dorm room on Saturday, the 29th. (Go Cougars!) I believe in her, and I have all the confidence that she will take over the world and create the greatest happiness in her life. And I want her to do that. That’s what Katie and I had in mind 18 years ago.

But that ushers in a whole new era. The era where most of my very favorite people and best friends start to not live with me anymore. Yes, you’re correct, it will be 17 years before that era ends. And yes, I’ll be 60 years old by then, and yes, whenever I think about that, it makes me kind of want to take a nap. But yes, our family dynamic is permanently changing, and my feelings about it are all over the place.

Abbie speaking at her graduation. And Hillary offering moral support. 

Speaking of emotional moments, August has provided a bumper crop of them at the Craig house. The first being the fact that Abbie turned 18. Katie and I both spoke at a graduation ceremony we held for her in our backyard, and I - because I apparently like to fall apart in public - took the opportunity to read and give Abbie a letter I had written to her just two days after she was born. After I wrote it I had then put it away with the idea I would give it to her "some day." And that day turned out to be on her 18th birthday.

I won't post the entire letter, but here is an excerpt.

August 10, 1997

Dear Abbie,

I wanted to let you know some of the things that I felt prompted to bless you with when you were given a name and a blessing on August 10, 1997. I don’t know why. I guess I just figured that at some point in your life you may be a little curious as to my impressions of you when I only knew you for a couple of days. I mean besides the fact you were the cutest baby ever sent to this or any planet.

It’s funny. By the time you are old enough to read this, and maybe appreciate it, I will seem like a pretty old guy to you. But if you could see me now, writing this. I feel so young and naive and unsure of my abilities to be a good dad. To be a good parent. I haven’t learned enough about the whole thing to be wise or even knowledgeable. But I’m not scared. I love you so much, I think that will drown out the insignificant mistakes, and maybe even some big blunders.

I blessed you to be a light to those you come in contact with. Even though I have only known you for a short while, I sense your personality is one of this nature. One of the greatest gifts we can have in this life is charity. The way we treat others means everything. To be able to lift others by being yourself is a great accomplishment and it means having the Spirit with you.

I love you very much. I’m glad I’m your dad.

I never would have imagined fatherhood to be what it has been these last 18 years. I am a better person because I get to be Abbie's dad. She is a light to those who know her – including, and maybe especially, to her family. She loves goodness. I have always appreciated the way she assumes the best about me. It makes me want to be better.

I will miss her being present in our home everyday. I will miss her piano playing being in the background of Sunday afternoons. I will miss her telling detailed stories of daily events. I know Katie will miss her being her right-arm. But we are so, so excited for her. This is really her moment, too.