Tag Archives: co-workers

On the road…again.

On 11/10/10 at 11:05 a.m. J writes:

So I’ve been on the road again a good bit this week, but not really on the road, which means that I get my food stipend and can eat in places that I normally wouldn’t, because, well, I’m cheap. So food trucks serve a special niche for me because of their low cost goodness.

And before everyone starts to get all upity on me, you should know that some very highly placed journalists and industry PR people have enjoyed food trucks as well, so smoke on your pipe and put that in, or whatever.

This week though I was taking some out-of-town friends and colleagues out for a Philadelphia cheesesteak. They said they wanted the authentic experience, which, of course, as we all know, means Pat’s, Geno’s or Jim’s. We eliminated Pat’s and Geno’s because it was 30 degrees and while I do have fond memories of eating a cheesesteak from Pat’s at 3:00 a.m. when it was 12 degrees out, with my friends and I all saying various versions of, “YOU GOTTA WANT IT!!!” I think I might have been drunk at the time. So my memory might be cloudy.

Anyway, we went to Jim’s. Jim’s is the cheesesteak place on 4th and South. It has pictures of famous people and it sells T-shirts and hats. I’m not ready to call this an iron-clad rule yet, but if you are selling hats and reminding people that famous people once ate there, presumably before veganism and vegetarianism became morally superior, you really aren’t thinking about your food anymore.

We got to Jim’s at around 6:00 p.m. on a Sunday night and the line was out the door. There were people from Germany, Montreal and what I assume were other foreign countries because the line moved in an orderly non-disruptive fashion, so it’s unlikely they were all from Philadelphia.

My companions and I kept in good humor as we waited in line at the cheesesteak stand. By the time we got to the grill, I had in mind what I wanted to order. Whiz with extra whiz. My female companion behind me said she wanted the same thing, and the other dude ordered the same thing without onions.

We managed to find tables upstairs surprisingly easily given the crowd in the lobby, but while I enjoyed the company, the food was a total disappointment. I had paid $.70 for extra whiz, and I was left wondering what a normal whiz steak would have looked like. Part of the charm of a Philadelphia cheesesteak is when the whiz drips out onto the wrapper and you can sop it up with what’s left of your roll like a biscuit. But on this cheesesteak I couldn’t even taste the whiz.

In fact, all I could really taste were the onions, which were piled on top, rather than grilled into the meat like they are supposed to be and not quite cooked right. The bread was cold.

I paid $10.50 for the experience; money wasted.

On Tuesday night I wound up working late again and walked through the Gallery Mall. There’s a steak place there called Charley’s Fried Steaks, which gives out excellent samples on days when you are lucky. But here’s the thing- the actual cheesesteaks you pay for are not nearly as good as the sample.

I ordered the chicken club, which was supposed to come with cheese, bacon, tomatoes and lettuce. They grilled it, and didn’t put any bacon on it, which was my first disappointment.

Then they sent it down the assembly line to a surly little man who stood in front of the fixings bar. He stared at me. Not, with a “what would you like, sir?” smile but with a “what do you want?” look that didn’t have a question with it. I was going to say just put on what it’s supposed to have on it, but since they had already screwed up the bacon, I didn’t have much hope that they’d get the rest of the sandwich right so I proceeded to make my own creation.

And it didn’t work out. The combination of swiss cheese (yes, swiss cheese), ranch (I choked) and hot peppers (again, another mistake) made the whole sandwich a disappointment.

Equally disappointing were the cheese fries, which I had paid a premium for and which, well, wound up being far too soggy.

I paid $11.67 for the experience. Money wasted.

From now on, I’m just sticking with the food trucks.

Now who wants pie?

My Favorite Thus Far

J writes via e-mail on 10/3/10 at 3:28 p.m.

I remember years ago when I first read that airports were going to start offering higher end restaurants, beyond the typical McDonald’s/Burger King fast food fare. Comedians and commentators had a field day. Airport prices were already sky high, so who was going to pay even higher exorbitant prices for a nice meal?

Well, me. Yes, that’s right. On my last day of an eight day stretch on the road I was on the hunt for a nice restaurant in the Miami International Airport. When you don’t have to spend your own money, you tend to be hungrier than normal. On my own, I might never spend $25 for lunch, unless it was a special occasion, but that’s what my per-diem is for lunch, $50 for dinner, so I went looking for a place where I could burn through $25.

I found the something Grille, it’s exact name escapes me now. I suppose I could go looking for a receipt, but I’m really tired. What I did know is that anyplace called Grille with an “e” is usually pretty high end, so I figured what the heck.

Well, I’ll tell you it’s just a damn good thing that I can’t remember the place’s name because it stunk. I mean it really stank like that garbage that was left overnight in the office I was working in at the hotel (yes, N, before you got there this morning I went apeshit on the poor custodial staff for leaving the stinking hummus sandwiches out overnight–it was a bad scene and not one I’m proud of).

In any event, the selection on the menu should have clued me in from the beginning. This is Miami, famous for what kind of food I don’t know, probably fish, but I know they do not know how to make a cheesesteak. Yet, there it was, a Philadelphia cheesesteak with peppers, mushrooms, and SWISS CHEESE!!!!!!! Now, I get that some people like peppers on their cheesesteak; I’m not a fan of mushrooms, but I can accept their existance. BUT SWISS CHEESE???? Are they not aware that John Kerry basically lost the 2004 election because he asked for Swiss Cheese at Pat’s King of Steaks in Philadelphia??? I should have known right then and walked out, but like I said, I was really tired and, at this point, almost delirious.

All I had to drink was water, which I think pissed my waiter off because not only did he say, “fine,” when I ordered it in the same tone your wife might use the day after she caught you sleeping with the maid and you asked how she was doing today, he never refilled it either.

I started my lunch with a Caesar Salad. I have always liked Ceasar Salads because they really don’t expect much from me. Ever noticed how sanctimonous people who eat salads can be? Yes, I’ll have “just” a salad is a phrase you hear often usually from someone who is looking down their nose at another someone who ordered deep fried meat with cheese. Good for you, honey. Go ahead and take your salad and shove it up your smaller ass.

Here’s my thing on salads. Some salads come with cheese, others do not come with cheese. I like to eat the ones that come with cheese. If even after you put bar-b-q sauce on it, it still tastes like the ground, I’m not going to eat it.

But often I’m at restaurants where everyone else orders a salad, usually a “house” salad, which is another problem. I’m at a restaurant; why do I want to eat something called “house?” If I wanted to eat something called “house” I’d be eating it at “home.” I’m out; I don’t want “house” anything.

So I usually ask if I can have a Caesar Salad, to which the general response is “a couple of dollars extra?” To which I almost always consent so I don’t have to eat a “house” salad and so I can eat a salad with a lot of cheese.

Cheese is just one of Caesar salad’s virtues. The other is a lack of extraneous vegetables. House salads tend to come with a lot of things like tomatoes, cucumbers, and carrots, which just have the effect of sucking up the dressing, the only good part of a salad. Often I wind up picking them off, and losing some delicious blue cheese in the process, but with the Ceasar salad that’s not expected or required. It’s really the perfect salad for those who do not like salad but who feel guilted into ordering it–maybe that’s why it’s more expensive.

But there is a rule. That is, the dressing needs to be tossed with the salad so that each sprig of lettuce is covered with Caesar dressing. This restaurant put the dressing ON THE SIDE!!!! And it wasn’t enough. I wound up munching on a bunch of dry lettuce. I may as well have had the house salad.

For the second course I had chicken parmesan. Chicken parmesan is American comfort food–I’m sure no actual Italians eat it. Whether you order it in the high school cafeteria or at the highest end of high end restaurant chains, it’s always the same deep fried meat and cheese concoction with a red sauce of unknown origin. And it’s always pretty good.

So the chicken parmesan didn’t disappoint, except for the fact that my shirkey waiter who was already pissed at me for ordering water brought out my chicken parmesan after I had taken no more than two bites out of my Caesar salad. By the time I got to the chicken, it was cold. This, I suppose, was my own fault, but I should point out that I was eating cold chicken parmesan while sitting about 20 yards form one of those fast food Italian stands, La Famiglia, that would have likely served me the same thing at 50 percent of the price without all the attitude. So I felt like I was missing out on the full experience of it all, or maybe that was the point.

I finished up with a Key Lime pie. I’ve eaten a lot of key lime pie this week. It’s one of my favorite deserts and while it’s not exactly rare it’s not served everywhere. The Key Lime pie was passable (I ate a really good slice this week at Grill Fish, a nice restaurant in Miami. So good in fact that when my friend K–I can call her my friend because I just said yes to a friend request on Facebook. While I do like her very much, I only see her once or twice a year and then only because she’s married to one of my colleagues who I likely wouldn’t know except that we work together and who, while I also like very much, don’t talk to very often. In a normal society this would hardly qualify me to call her a “friend,” but Facebook has changed the social rules almost overnight for all of us, and ain’t that grand?).

Where was I?

Oh yes, the pie.

 

Mmmmmm...pie.

 

This key lime pie was so good that when my friend K offerred it to my colleague M (who is also a Facebook friend, come to think of it, and also someone I’m quite fond of, but I don’t want to go through that whole thing again) she immediately stopped eating her creme brulee, pronounced the key lime pie the best thing she had ever tasted and left the creme brulee on the table looking lonely. Please note that K shared her pie with M. I ate my entire slice myself; you all know how I feel about sharing.

I did offer N a piece of my steak, but let’s get back on topic, and stop being distracted by the pie.

The pie at the airport restaurant was not near as good as the one at Grill Fish. It was sort of the jello pudding version, and nothing against Jello pudding, but there’s a reason why we feed it to our children while they are still pooping themselves.

The disappointment was made worse by the fact that my waiter had taken my fork and brought a spoon with my pie. I don’t eat a lot of pie with a spoon, but I guess the waiter was conceding wordlessly that the filling came out of a mix, so why keep lying to each other and pretending that this high end airport restaurant was anything else than overpriced?

At the end I sat there with my empty water and a strong sense of disappointment while I waited for the check.

And here came the coup de grace.

Wait for it.

Wait for it.

The check came with a 15 percent “service charge.” Gratuity, in other words, was automatic. Perhaps this whole exercise was a social experiment in what happens when waiters don’t have to work for their tips. In short, they don’t refill water, they don’t stagger courses and they bring out improper utensils. And they do it all with a shirkey attitude.

But hey, at least it was expensive, which I suppose in the end, is the definition of a nice restaurant.

P.S. Sorry that this post was ridiculously long, but it’s been a while since I submitted anything to N for this growing blog. N is the blog’s manager and in many way’s its inspiration. That is, the whole thing started when I kept sending her random e-mails about my lunch hour and other pointless ramblings that for some reason she found funny.

Ladies, if you laugh good naturedly at a man he will only continue his behavior, and thus the blog was born when she decided my humorous musings needed a wider audience.

For the past week, we’ve been sitting three feet from each other running an offsite office and when I had something I thought was funny I would just say it, she would laugh and that would be the end of it. I didn’t have the energy to write it most of the time.

Sorry you’ve been left out of all that, because some of it was quite brilliant, particularly our conversation about documentaries where we both congratulated each other on being smart enough to enjoy being bored while the rest of the world insisted on being entertained.

Rest assured, N and I are now separated again to go on and live our mostly separate lives, thus correcting the balance of the universe and getting back to the really important business of keeping Cake in the Conference Room up to date.

Stay tuned.

Pre-eating

Via email at 3:53 p.m. yesterday, J writes:

When your blog is about food at an office where you do a lot of talking about food, you often get requests to blog about something you are talking about. I’m truthfully not sure if the people who make these requests are actually interested in the topic or if they just want me to shut up and go back to my desk.

Nevertheless…

I tend to pre-eat before business lunches and dinners. I do this because I’m a big eater and I don’t like to talk with my mouthful. If this is a lunch or dinner where I have to be “on,” that is either lead the conversation or make a presentation, I’m not going to get a lot of eating done. So I eat before I go.

There’s also the issue of I may not like the food being served. This was the case when I went to Nabu in Las Vegas with a couple of clients for my job at the time. Nabu was a nice restaurant (Ivanka Trump was sitting two tables away; no I didn’t get her phone number), but it serves sushi. I normally don’t like sushi, so I ate some nachos alone in my hotel room before we went out. Ironically, I actually enjoyed the sushi so I went home feeling quite full despite the fact that I had to do a lot of talking. It has basically ruined sushi for me since, as you might imagine, any restaurant that caters to a Trump has much higher quality food than my favorite Chinese buffet that serves all you can eat sushi, among other items, for $10.95.

Frankly, a lot of restaurants are not designed for eating. Some serve heavy hor dourves, which are nice, but always leave me wanting more, which is supposed to be the purpose of hour d vors. They are not supposed to be a meal.

Or Tapas. God help me but if I never see a Tapas restaurant again I’ll be just fine. Tapas is just a fancy word for expensive food on little plates and leaving hungry. There has to be a lot of sharing. Again, if I have to do a lot of talking, those who are less required to do talking will wind up taking my food. Or maybe they won’t, but they could, so the risk is there and so I pre-eat.

Ironically, food is our main social venue, but it also inhibits conversation. Seriously, notice it the next time you go out. Conversation will be lively until the food arrives at which point everyone will start eating. Then someone will make a funny comment about how we’re all hungry and the food must be good or something like that and then the conversation will start again, but it won’t be as lively as before because people will be alternating between food and conversation. If I don’t have to eat, I can still talk. So I eat before I go.

It’s actually a good idea. Try it sometime.

By the way…

Via e-mail at 3:24 p.m.
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J writes:

…you’d be proud of me. I had a chicken cutlet sandwich for lunch. It had broccoli rabe on it. I ate the first half of the sandwich with the broccoli rabe on it. Not the second half, but the first half I did. It’s growth man, growth.
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I respond:

I AM so proud!

Could you even taste the rabe? Or was it a texture thing?
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J bounces back:

A little of both. My previous experience with broccoli rabe was that it was almost inconsequential. It was small flecks of green stuff that claimed to be broccoli, but I couldn’t tell. More importantly, I couldn’t really taste broccoli, so I just went with it. This sandwich had huge broccoli florets that were impossible to avoid and, well, tasted a lot like broccoli. The problem was this sandwich had the sharp provolone cheese melted on top of it, so you couldn’t just pick the broccoli off without losing the cheese. On the second half of the sandwich I cut my losses.

Actually I spent most of the lunch distracted by the bread crumb in R’s head.
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I retort:

Are you one of those people that doesn’t like broccoli? Or more accurately, one of “those people” that despises it?

Because I love Love LOVE broccoli. It’s one of the only vegetables I have liked all of my life. However, I only like it fresh (not cooked).

So I can see how broccoli rabe may have been a challenge for you as far as texture goes. But taste…mmmmm, broccoli tastes delish.

In regards to the cheese on top of the broccoli, I don’t understand why restaurants put cheese anywhere on a sandwich but directly on top (or on bottom) of the hunk of meat the sandwich is built around. I really don’t. This is why Taco Bell confuses me. PUT THE CHEESE DIRECTLY ON TOP OF THE MEAT.  It’s like they don’t want the cheese to melt.

But regardless, I am proud-very. Is Indian food up next?

Also-who is R?
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J writes back:

I don’t like broccoli. If that’s wrong, then I don’t want to be right. I don’t even like the look or the smell of it.

Your point on how cheese must be on top of meat is valid and well taken. The thing is though, with this sandwich, the cheese had melted on top of the broccoli, but when I attempted to remove the broccoli I managed to save most of the cheese, because as anyone who knows about cheese will tell you, provolone does not melt well.

It also didn’t help that R had ordered a vegetable sandwich; that was two points against her from the start.

I’ve had Indian food. Didn’t I tell you about my adventures at the Indian food buffet?

R is the new ***** ****** person in the ** office.
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Don’t Be Lazy, k? Thx.

Via e-mail beginning at 1:40 p.m.
________________________________________________________________________________
J writes:

I hate to be the one to stand athwart the cultural wave and shout, STOP!!, but can we please stop abbreviating the words thank you in our e-mails? E-mail has already proven to be an incipient time waster, robbing us of any ability to have complete thoughts as we rush to every ping or blip only to discover disappointedly, or perhaps not, another ad for HOT GIRLS.COM.

More communication crime has been committed over e-mail than any other medium, even if the volume of e-mails relative to letters and phone calls makes the whole comparison skewed. How many times have you sent an e-mail, pissed someone off because they inferred a tone that wasn’t there, and then spent the rest of the day apologizing for what might have never happened had you gotten off your fat ass and had a face to face conversation with a person who works three feet down the hall? Thought so.

I’m hardly an erudite, but the abbreviation of thank you is the last straw for me. I have received so many one word e-mails this week that simply had thx or thanx or some other variation of Thank You. Yeah, thanks for taking the time. Just like nothing says I put no thought into this whatsoever than the gift of a paper-weight (very many wind storms in your air conditioned increasingly paperless office?) nothing says I need to acknowledge you but can’t find the time than abbreviating the words Thank You. Our culture has already eliminated thank you notes; this is just a bridge too far.

Thank you for taking the time to read.
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I concur:

I AGREE.

I like abbreviating words for comedic effect (like profesh, pretensh-got that one from a co-worker, abbrev, mome, etc) but HATE when people say thx (where’s the “N”?) but even more so, “thanx.” Really? You couldn’t spare ONE EXTRA KEYSTROKE to properly type the “K” and add an “S”?

That, is the epitome of laziness.

Also-I hate when people say drop the “G” off the end of a word BUT ADD AN APOSTROPHE.

Any time you may have saved (oh and how presh your time must be!) in order to eliminate that keystroke is completely wasted by adding the ‘.  I mean, really? If anything, you probably added EXTRA time because everyone knows that typing anything that isn’t a letter adds like, .10 seconds onto your typing speed.

Nah’ mean?

Doughnuts: With or without holes?

Via e-mail, beginning at 2:54 p.m. today
___________________________________________________________________________
J writes:

I almost bought a dozen donuts on the way to work this morning. I had no intention of eating all dozen donuts. I was going to share them with my co-workers in the communal food cube, where I am known more for my withdrawals than my deposits, but it didn’t happen. I hope the thought will count. It probably won’t.

Donuts are a tricky thing anyway. When someone says they like donuts, they are really saying they like a particular kind of donut, not donuts in a general sense. I like Boston Cream donuts, which as far as far as I know are made only by Dunkin Donuts. If you went and got a dozen donuts and didn’t include a Boston Cream I’d think you had totally wasted your time. You’re probably the sort who buys plain donuts and thinks they are getting the full experience.

And speaking of the full experience…

I have never understood why a glazed donut, or a chocolate covered donut, costs the same as the Boston Cream or a jelly donut. Glazed donuts, as we all know, have these giant holes in the middle where the jelly donut has delicious jelly. If you buy the Glazed Donut you basically paid for a worthless air pocket.

And you’re an idiot who didn’t deserve donuts in the first place.
_____________________________________________________________________________________________
I respond:

Wait a minute; I disagree about this hole (get it?) doughnut thing.

Are you suggesting that we be charged more for cream/jelly filled doughnuts?

Also as a fan of cream-filled doughnuts AND plain/glazed, I have to say that there are varieties of doughnuts for a reason; sometimes you’re in the mood for something a little less sweet that you can dip in your coffee, and sometimes you want an inside-out cupcake. Different strokes for different folks.

Finally, as a fan of doughnuts in general, I have to say that the BEST doughnuts are those purchased from a bakery or from the Amish Farmer’s Market on Route 45. Quality-plain and simple. Better ingredients, better price, best taste.
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J replies:

Nice pun.

No, I’m not suggesting we be charged more for cream/jelly filled donuts. I’m suggesting we pay less for donuts with the holes in them. Or at least, refuse to buy donuts with the holes in them on general principle. We should refuse to pay for air, unless we’re radio advertisers.

I’ve heard the argument about different strokes for different folks, but there are some things that are intrinsically better and we shouldn’t be afraid to say so. If you want to have something to dip in your coffee, maybe you try a biscotti, but don’t waste a perfectly good donut. Plus what the hell are you doing dipping things in your coffee anyway? Just drink it like a normal person.

Amish do everything better. If you buy a house built by an Amish person, you can rest assured that your grandchildren will be able to live in  it. If you buy a house made by an American contractor, you better hope it lasts the next windstorm.
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I retort:

STOP IMPOSING YOUR FOOD PURITANISM ON ME.

There are days that I like non-cream-filled doughnuts. I DO drink my coffee like a normal person; I just like to dip doughnuts in it sometimes. Surely, the fact (?) that Homer Simpson dips a plain doughnut in his coffee should change your mind.

Though you do have a point about not paying for “air.” I’d be down with doughnuts essentially morphing into bricks of dried dough (no holes).
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________
J counters:

It’s not food Puritanism. It is a recognition that some things are just wrong.

And Homer Simpson does not eat plain donuts. Never has. He has donuts with sprinkles and I’ve never seen him dip it in coffee.
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I write:

Okay, maybe you’re right about Homer.

But how can holes in doughnuts be wrong if that’s what a doughnut IS? They’re not; you just don’t like them.  Though I don’t have a problem (like I said previously) about doughnuts being big blocks of fried dough like the image below:


_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________
J:

That is what a specific kind of donut is. Not all donuts. Not all donuts are created equal.
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Me:

But the TRADITIONAL doughnut is one with a hole in it.

Besides, would there be munchkins if there weren’t holes in doughnuts? I don’t think so. I don’t know if the marketing ploy towards “filling the doughnut hole” would have been tried if there wasn’t a conspicuously large portion of dough “missing” from the center of doughnuts.
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
J:

Actually the munchkins are just part of the corporate greed that ruins most of the food industry. Munchkins are just the part of the donut you throw away when you are charging people for air that they get because they are not smart enough to order a cream filled donut. Dunkin Donuts said, “hey what do you want to do with this trash? Can we sell it? Sure, we’ll call in a munchkin.” Boom.
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Me:

Some people like munchkins more than regular doughnuts though. I only really like the chocolate ones. But even then I’d rather have a whole doughnut-that’s just me.

Also, munchkins are better for sharing and food-cubing. That way you can pick slowly at them all day long instead of feeling like a fatty for eating two doughnuts; they’re a brilliant means of self and other-deception.
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________
J concedes:

Both good points

(and then writes to me via e-mail 20 minutes later…)

This came to me while I was on the toilet playing Texas Hold ‘Em on my Blackberry.

The problem with Munchkins is that we are essentially paying for what by any rights is garbage. This doesn’t bother us because it’s unique to the American culture.

Garage sales?

Anyone every notice there’s a one letter difference between GARAGE sale and GARBAGE sale? Even walk by someone’s house during a garage sale and wonder if they didn’t start taking out their trash, get bored halfway down the driveway and just start smacking prices on everything.

Yet garage sales continue because people spend money on crap.

And munchkins are crap.
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I confess:

Have you ever trash picked doughnuts out of the Dunkin Donuts dumpster?

I have.  I didn’t eat them but went around and peanut buttered them and stuck them over the cars of people I didn’t like (along with some friends) in high school.

I bet you could eat them and be fine though. They only throw them out (tied in plastic bag) because they get “stale.”
___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
J concludes:

Point N.
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What about you readers? Do you have an opinion on doughnuts with/without holes? Munchkins? What qualifies as a doughnut? What about apple fritters or bowties? Are these doughnuts?

Icing, Food on the Floor, and Coke

Via e-mail at 3:13 p.m.
_____________________________________________________________________________
J writes:

We’re living in a society people…can we agree on a couple of things…

it’s OK to eat icing straight out of the can. We all want to, so I’m giving you permission to do so. There is a lot of white cake being made unnecessarily (chocolate cake has its own special merits) so that people can frost it with all manner of deliciousness. This flour could be put to better uses like solving world hunger.

…eating food off your own floor is OK. This only applies to certain food. While it may be fun to see if you can fry an egg on the sidewalk, I don’t recommend eating it if you do. But if you drop a cheese puff on your office floor, go ahead and eat it. You’ll regret that you didn’t later. I mean, you might not admit that you regret it, but you will.

…Coca Cola can solve a lot of the world’s ills. The 80s were a simpler time, when we all had a Coke and a smile. Coke, as we all know, was originally made with cocaine, which was one of the main psychiatric drugs of the late 19th century. Made people extremely happy, at least until they died from heart attacks caused by the cocaine. Now we don’t use cocaine to treat psychiatric disorders. People are miserable and, oddly enough, they are still having heart attacks. So maybe we over-reacted. I’m just saying.