Show Prep: Sneaking a Foot in America’s Door

Notes scribbled on over two dozen 3×5 index cards cover my kitchen nook table. Discussion points for my brief–less than 10-minutes–morning talk radio interview. Each card tells its own China Ate My Jeans-related story. Some stories I’ve touched on in this blog, others are yet to come. How to choose…? I listen to the show on the radio while waiting for my interview. A promo / teaser says “Tina Polito has written a book called China Ate My Jeans.” The 28 cards do look like chapters. And I’m always telling friends who are new to this site to go to the first post “and just read as if it’s a book.” So maybe it is. Back to the cards:

China Ate My Jeans / Dog Ate My Homework / No Excuses / Time to Buy American

Dad tribute / family man / patriotic / idealist / Hollywood: “worked above & below line”

N Y Eve / Toshiba / TDK / Japan / Times Square

Fair Packaging and Labeling Act 1966 section 500.5 needs to be updated

CA Unemployment 12.4% = 2 million (2010)

US Unemployment :steady @ 9.6% (= lost middle class jobs= lost captial)

43 million Americans in poverty

Jan to Nov trade 2010 imbalance w/ China $252 billion

Our exports to China: $82 billion China’s imports to US: $333 billion

Population US: 300 million Pop China: 800 million

Does China play fair? Can we buy property there? Can we buy companies there? GNC

Nephew / electronic show / Vegas / Chinese guy taking pictures of iPad

China devalues Yuan–is that fair?

Foxconn / doubled workers salaries to $300 month / suicides

Disposable (crap) v. Reusable (quality / green)

Don’s Mom’s Kelvinator going since 1949 / Michelle’s microwave last 2 days

Hyundai / Tennessee / 100,000 applicants / 2500 jobs

Last GE factory shuts down: Sept 2010 (200 lose jobs)

Entrepreneurs respond if there are buyers for American products: Levis / Brooks Bros

Disconnect: consumers and manufacturers / does GE stand for anything anymore?

Desperately seeking made in USA: microwave

Sunbeam/Oster/Emerson/GE/Panasonic: Made in China

American Apparel / vertical integration / Dov Charney / Kiddie Porn

Amish

Lesotho

Urine Gone!

Earthquake survival tool

Titleist golf balls

I have moved the 28 index cards around; a card shark trying to fool the eye. I need a magic trick to fit all this stuff into a 10-minute interview. Plus, since it’s a morning drive-time talk show, there’s banter. Banter, when our trade imbalance with China stands at a quarter-trillion dollars? Banter, when poverty in the U.S. is higher than it’s ever been? Banter, when I haven’t had a Trader Joe’s Goat Cheese Pizza in a month? When my stash of USA-manufactured items can be counted on one hand: “Earthquake Survival Tool,” “Chapstick,” and a bottle of “Urine Gone”?

Five minutes until interview time. My sister’s here to help me run through the most important points. She sounds good. “Can you do it for me?” I ask her. I like being holed up with my Foxconn-made laptop, hammering out my thoughts. Speaking them aloud to a pair of radio talk show hosts is an altogether different animal. A beast. Growling. Attacking. Sister stops my thoughts, as if she can read them. “The guys are hysterical. Just relax and have fun. I can’t believe they’re talking about Charlie Sheen and porn right before your turn. It’s kind of funny, though, right?” I nod. Weakly. “Should I mention Dov Charney and American Apparel? Kind of fits with the whole Charlie Sheen grossness.” My sister shakes her head. “I don’t think so. Just take your lead from them.” Earlier, when Don left for work, he kissed the top of my head and said, “Just be light. They like to have fun.” He listens to this radio show four mornings a week at the gym, running on the treadmill.

Relax. Have fun. Be light. But the 28 index cards in front of me beg for attention. My sister’s left so she can listen to the interview in the car. I’m alone. I close my eyes, wait for the phone to ring, and in that moment, I think of Dad. I picture him watching, encouraging me to go ahead and give it a try.  

The interview lasts maybe eight minutes and it’s over–like having minor outpatient surgery. I can’t remember much. I remember saying something about Charlie Sheen, trying to be funny and keep it “light.” And other than that, I didn’t have time to touch on any of my ridiculously complex 28 talking points, which may have saved me from myself.  Except  I mentioned Foxconn and kids jumping out of windows. Not exactly “light” or “fun.” Why didn’t I write “Goat Cheese Pizza” on one of those index cards? Sigh.

And as soon as it’s over I’m wishing I could do it again. I’d sneak in a couple of statistics. Hey, it’s a foot in America’s door. It’s a beginning. For those who might be interested, here’s the link to the radio interview (If you want to skip ahead to my part of the show, it’s at 29:55).

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4 Responses to Show Prep: Sneaking a Foot in America’s Door

  1. steph james says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I heard about your blog on Armstrong & Getty and I love it! My mom (naturalized German citizen for 50 years) will ONLY buy American, and now it’s really getting hard! Even in the produce aisle! Because of her I constantly watch for made in USA products. Keep up the great work and fun blog.

  2. Great job!
    I had actually decided, about a week ago, that I was going to do exactly what you’ve undertaken. We must be onto something.
    I do have a “cheater” way out, though. I consider the purchase of anything used as being okay, as the money stays in the country, at least. Okay, so it might enable the seller to buy more imported junk, but that’s their business.
    One question I have for you is, what do you know of any retailer programs to highlight Made in USA products on the shelves? Remember how, when Wal-Mart was a family company, they used to have those little red, white, and blue stars by Made in USA products? Is anyone doing that today?
    If not, I think that’s a good first step – pushing for a retailer, even a grocer, to put those stars back up and get people thinking. Helps people to make their choice right at the point of sale.
    Great work on your project, and I agree wholeheartedly with your sentiments!

  3. Hope Williams says:

    I also embarked on a buy in the US journey this year, I have had to modify it also, if I can buy it at good will or used its ok and if I have no other alternative I can buy it locally (Rhinelander, WI) where I live. But, not from a big box store-needs to be a local, independantly owned store.