January 3, 2004
This morning I got up early and ate a bowl of Total, not realizing how lucky I was to have made such a decision without the benefit of foresight or research. Not ten minutes after finishing the last bite and drinking down the milk—a habit I’ve kept from childhood—I saw this commercial on TV about how many bowls of other cereal would equal the nutritional benefits of one bowl of Total. I’d have to consume three bowls of Grape-Nuts and more All Bran than you’d ever want to eat in your life.
Realizing how much time, effort, stomach cramps, and bowel movements the makers of Total had saved me, I decided to phone the home office and thank them. I called their 1-800 number and followed the instructions on the automated menus; I listened to some sort of what I suppose you’d call music, though it sounded more like Mozart by way of the Armpit, Mississippi Glee Club. I finally connected with Judy, a customer service operator.
I told her that I was calling to thank the General Mills Corporation for the valuable services they had performed in my honor. I told her that I couldn’t imagine eating three or four bowls (I had forgotten which) of Grape-Nuts, which taste like artificially produced hay, and that I was very happy with their method of providing so much daily nutrition. I finished my speech by assuring her that I would buy Total as long as they continued to produce it at high levels of quality and consumer commitment.
Judy hung up on me. I stood in my kitchen, still tasting milk and small particles of Total underneath my tongue. The empty bowl gleamed dully under the phosphorescent light.