Saturday, June 23, 2007

that time i fought back and won

Do you remember that show Fight Back with David Horowitz?

I think I was 10 or 11 years old and at the time a gigantic fan of shrimp Cup of Noodles. When I was allowed to have it I would lovingly prepare the water, steep the noodles, and wait impatiently for those three long minutes. Then I'd carefully eat the noodles and leave all the shrimp till the end, a sort of last course hurrah. But one day there was no shrimp in my shrimp cup, and the dismay, Oh The Dismay.

So my father, a consumer advocate and writer of letters encouraged me to write the cup of noodle people and let them know. I sent the letter off, wounds still raw and still unable to believe there is a world where shrimp flavored noodles arrive in your home without any shrimp. A few weeks later to my undeniable joy I received a huge box from the good people at CON. Inside was every product imagineable. Boxes of shrimp noodles. Boxes! And other flavors! Wonton soup! I didn't even know what that was! I hoarded that huge box, it lived in my closet and every so often I'd pull out a treat and lovingly caress each package, thoughtful in my decision of which to sacrifice, conscious that the box was slowly emptying. My younger brother would beg and plead and I'd eventually give him one or two packages, the vegetable flavor of course.

My father then suggested writing another letter, this time to David. So I wrote Dave a letter complete with purple flowers and mailed it off. A little while later we got a phone call. David Had Seen My Letter! I Had Fought Back And Won!

They aired the segment one ordinary weekday night, long before common folk had VCRs. My family crowded round the set, a scene right out of the 50's, mom and dad on the couch, the children getting radiation poison right up close. They showed my letter, purple flowers and all. They read my name and told my story, boxes of noodles filling the screen. And then David said the magic words: Jenny Talia Fought Back And Won!

Oh, The Fame!

The next day at school a classmate came up to me and said she saw my letter on TV. I remember being so proud. So proud. My words made something change. Pen and paper. It mattered. And I learned from the small but important lesson: our words matter. We can change things for the better by speaking up. So I've kept writing, sometimes successfully and other times not. But I learned we have a voice. A say in the matter. We can Fight Back. Noodles or Women's Rights or World Peace - we can stake our claim and have our voice heard.

38 comments:

Julie Pippert said...

Oh that rocks! There is NOTHING like finding that you are not powerless and that sometimes words do matter adn you can make a difference! Clearly it stuck with you. I hope to help my own daughters find their voices.

Love this story!

Tabba said...

I always wondered the how's and the where's to how you got your "start".

Tabba said...

no, make that *hows* and *wheres*.....

I'm brain dead.

Blog Antagonist said...

What a fantastic story. Your Dad sounds like an amazing guy and you are so fortunate to have had someone to show you that we can make a difference. "From humble beginnings...." right?

Aliki2006 said...

That's incredible! And your dad was great to push you to fight back. I can see where you get your spirit from.

Christine said...

Can i just say how much I used to love cup o noddles as a kid.

And, dude, you fought back--awesome!

You are so right--our voices can be heard.

thailandchani said...

I've always thought words are our greatest tool. It is the best way we have to exchange the truly important things and that's what changes the world.


Peace,

~Ch

mamatulip said...

I do remember that show! That's AWESOME that you Fought Back and Won! Rock on!

Oh, The Joys said...

Remind me to show you the "poem" I wrote when I was 11 or 12 to the country of Iran. It was published in the local paper. It RHYMED, dude.

"The Shah, The Shah,
Is he so bad?
Does he make you steaming mad?"

...and there's more of course.

Mrs. Chicky said...

Viva la Ramen!

I've never known anyone who actually liked the Shrimp flavor. How amazing this internet thing is! Bringing Beef and Chicken flavor Ramen lovers together with Shrimp lovers.

Kyla said...

What an awesome story. I can't imagine anything more exciting as a 10 year old. You were famous!!

painted maypole said...

Good for you! Keep writing those letters... and sometimes write them when things are exceptionally good, too. I've sent letters to praise employees when they've clearly gone out of their way... I figure management gets so many complaints, that it must be good to hears something good, too.

slouching mom said...

I love that you did that, jen.

You might like (if you don't already know) The Lazlo Toth Letters.

flutter said...

This is where it starts, isn't it?

The Expatriate Chef said...

I used to believe I was going to help save the world with writing. I guess if some stubborn neuron banging around up there didn't still believe, I'd have quit. Thanks for the reminder. :)

alejna said...

Yes! I love it. The noodles. The writing. The story. You keep reminding me to stick to it, and write about things I care about.

Dude.

Z said...

Canny PR, too. If they had apologised, sent you a replacement, there wouldn't have been a story for you to write in with. Overwhelming you with a fabulous apology more than mollified you, it empowered you and gave them a damn fine advertisement into the bargain.

So, is the lesson not just to complain, but to complain in a way that the other person can put the problem right, and get something out of it too?

Joker The Lurcher said...

fab! my mum and dad were both writers to people. not long ago my dad (now 80) wrote to the marmalade people when the bits had all sunk to the bottom and they sent him a voucher for another jar!

this experience obviously set you on the road to what you do now - go girl!

mitzh said...

w0w!

You have a very wonderful dad..

I agree pen and paper are powerful and words simply makes it more stronger...

Jenn said...

Who'd have thought; from noodle warrior to blogging queen.

Cause that's totally what you are.

Queen.

Beck said...

That's a great story - it's so funny what ultimately inspires who we become...

kristen said...

I love this story. I often joke with my husband that when he's in his doterage our basement will be full of boxes of cereal and other dry goods, because he likes to write the letters.

Sober Briquette said...

sweetly inspirational for me as a person and a mother.

Or should I say "saltily?" The sodium in those? Dude.

Gill said...

Very inspirational. It's brilliant that you had a Dad who showed you how, instead of doing it for you - so empowering. I've tagged you on my blog, so if you have a moment...

Karen Forest said...

Wow. Your dad sounds great. How wonderful that he showed you how powerful you and your words could be.

"the vegetable flavor of course." I love this!

NotSoSage said...

I love this little glimpse into the young you. My parents were much like your Dad.

It's always interesting to me to see that, as we age and realise that our parents are fallible, we can still appreciate the lessons that they gave us that stuck and that we can be sure of.

Hel said...

You made me smile and smile.

At the risk of repeating myself, you have to write that book. It is your destiny.

Seriously

Magpie said...

I do so love to complain. Especially when it gets tangible results, like a box full of noodles. Or new shoes. Or my money back. Too bad complaining about the Bush administration hasn't done any good.

KC said...

What a sweet yet empowering story- well told. I love your little touches of wit and humor. I can see you with that box of goodness!

I remember writing to Judy Blume to tell her how great I thought her books were, and getting a letter back! (albeit standard fan club fare, but still)

It's amazing to realize that sometimes people do listen. Unfortunately, this has never worked for me when dealing with health insurance or moving companies.

Susanne said...

Wow. Great story. And maypole is right. We should also write when things are good. Not only to complain.

Your dad sounds amazing. My parents would have told me not to complain. That there aren't always shrimp in the noodles.

meno said...

The beginning of knowing that there is much power in words. Right on!

Lawyer Mama said...

That. is. FABULOUS! How empowering for you to discover as a girl. Words do matter. They matter so much.

Lawyer Mama said...

Oh. Forgot to mention that I love Cup of Noodles. I hardly ever eat them because they're so high in sodium (sometimes I hate being an adult) but now I'm craving one!

QT said...

MMmmmmm - Cup O Noodles. As a backpacker, dude, they are pretty much a gold standard out in the bush.

I love that you wrote. And are still writing.

carrie said...

Well said, written, dude!

Just catching up on your past few posts and couldn't help myself! :)

Carrie

luckyzmom said...

Much better than letting it seeth inside of you.

ewe are here said...

Great story - and your dad sounds great.

Ally said...

You've got me drooling like Homer Simpson, thinking of the salty goodness that is a Cup O Noodles!

I give you a resounding A-MEN for this post, reminding us all that our words do matter. I am dreaming up a scheme to make our collective words matter just a little more when it comes to issues like this damned war, and the abuse of our environment. Stay tuned...