crate

Stop procrastinating and start your own food business
by Lucie Britsch

That was the name of the course. Stop procrastinating and start your own food business.

Ok! I will! I thought, and I might have even punched the air, but no jumping

I hadn’t realised that was what I was doing but who was I to argue with this guy. This guy in his plaid shirt with his rugged beard holding a wooden crate on his shoulder like he knew that was exactly what I had been doing and now he was going to show me how to stop it and start doing something. And not just anything but a food business! Who’d have thought!

From his picture I would have assumed he were a lumber jack or craft beer guy but maybe he was Ben or Jerry. Or a fisherman if that was still a thing. Maybe there were fish in that crate. I mean he could have been wearing waders but you could only see his top half. Maybe he would teach me how to fish or how to pull off a plaid shirt and grow a proper beard. I already had so many questions for this guy Geoff. Geoff! I had a feeling Geoff and I were going to be firm friends. Here’s where you think I’m going to say Geoff took out a restraining order on me but he didn’t. Or hasn’t yet.

So to say I was excited about meeting Geoff and hearing what he had to say and see how he was going to fix my crummy life was an understatement. I had this new spring in my step. When I finished making the online payment of just a mere $99, which seemed a small price for having my life fixed and meeting my new best friend, I felt so accomplished that I spent the next 3 hours looking at plaid shirts I might buy once I had my new food business. I was sure Geoff would help me pick out the exact right one though, one that would make my eyes pop as they say, but there was no harm in looking.

There was quite a turn out for Stop procrastinating and start your own food business. Turns out a lot of people want to stop procrastinating and start a food business. Who knew? Geoff. Geoff Knew.

There was a fancy big Steve Jobs screen on the stage that read

“An inspirational evening class with Geoff Crogan, founder of Geoff’s Iced Coffee, with advice on everything from working with suppliers to marketing your brand”

When he appeared on stage I was not disappointed. I had to use all my willpower not to jump up and whoop or storm the stage. Just grab him and get him in a bear hug and drag him off to my condo so I could have him all to myself. The woman next to me looked like she had a similar plan.

Ok so he wasn’t wearing his trademark plaid shirt, the one he’s wearing in his picture, and he didn’t have a crate with him, but I figured it was in his car or he was saving it for later or maybe his assistant would bring it out towards the end and he would demonstrate how you carried it on your shoulder and then maybe if we were really good he would let us see inside it. Maybe we’d each get a turn to hold it ourselves, see if we were really cut out for this game, whatever it was. Maybe when we graduated we would each get presented with our plaid shirts and I needn’t have worried and wasted all those hours looking at them online the night before.

Geoff didn’t stand a chance though. Seemed we all had the same sorts of questions. Every time he tried to get on with teaching us something about starting our food business, which I now suspect none of us ever actually intended to do, someone would raise their hand and ask him what the deal with the shirt was. After the third question about his shirt he put his notes down and said this wasn’t about shirts and if we could kindly stop asking about his shirt and get on with what we were there to do.

And here was the problem

A guy behind me stood up. Your marketing brochure says and I quote “You don’t need a background in the food industry to launch a successful comestible”

Yes but you do need to actually want to do it Geoff said

It doesn’t say that the guy said scanning the brochure to see if it did indeed say that

What’s a comestible? Someone asked

Geoff continued, undeterred. What a hero.

In 3 years I went from this, he showed a picture of himself in regular clothes, no plaid shirt or beard in site, to this, he showed the picture that bought us here. Well me. And I’m guessing the woman next to me. In 3 years I went from a nobody with wild dreams to a successful food business owner whose product is stocked in major stores across the country. I can show you how you can do the same.

I think he expected a woo of excitement here but nothing.

I decided then that I had better read the brochure. Just so I could back Geoff up if needs be. But Geoff was one step ahead of me and was now directly reading from his marketing material, as if to see where he’d gone wrong.

Ask Geoff Crogan, founder of Geoff’s Iced Coffee brand, which in three years went from being a home experiment to a recognised, celebrity endorsed brand stocked by Trader Joes and Whole Foods he read. Now, at this inspiring event, Geoff explains the basics of setting up a food business for the novice entrepreneur. This lively evening explains, in plain English, what to expect when setting up a new foodie business. You’ll learn not just how to find suppliers and stockists, but also how to deal with them, what to expect from them, and what questions you should ask them. All aspects of starting a business, from building a brand to marketing your products will be explored, with the benefit of Geoff’s personal experience and vast reserves of enthusiasm. Come along and find out how a bit of elbow grease can make the impossible easy to achieve.

The room was silent

He continued. This course is for you ifYou have an ambition to launch a food product but don’t know where to start

I have ambition and don’t know where to start the guy standing up said

I’d forgotten about him and admired his strong leg muscles

But the food bit Geoff said

What about it

It’s the central idea

It doesn’t say that the guy said waving his brochure

So what you’re just taking the beginning and end of that sentence and ignoring the middle? Geoff said

Yes

Undeterred, Geoff continued to read from his material

So you’ve already developed a food product you think is commercially viable, but find bringing it to market a daunting prospect

I swear he looked directly at me then, as if to say please god help but the guy standing wasn’t done

Well here’s the thing Geoff, I do actually truly believe that everyone has a food business in them

It’s not like a novel I wanted to say but kept quiet

You know everyone has some special sandwich they make that everyone who knows them knows is there special sandwich and they think everyone should try it or you know how people eat things completely differently, like I think the way I eat an peanut butter cup is the best way right and the world needs to know

I didn’t think the world needed to know but I was so confused he might have been on to something

None of those things are products or commercially viable Geoff said bringing me back to sanity. Geoff!

Oh but they are the guy said you just need the right branding, the right celebrity endorsement

I think you’re misunderstanding Geoff said

I don’t think I am the guy said. I came here to procrastinate and that’s exactly what I’m doing, I’m even helping you do it, when it’s actually your job, being the teacher

I didn’t know Geoff was a teacher a woman said

I think we’re all a bit confused Geoff said

There was a sea of head shakes and chorus of no’s

What they guy said, about the procrastinating, that’s what I’m here for another guy said standing

More head nods and noises of agreement

It was all getting a bit Jerry Maguire for my liking and I sensed Geoff was hoping for a more Cocktail result, what with that being about some plucky guys starting a bar.

I think these testimonials are bullshit a woman said

These were his testimonials

His charismatic manner kept me engaged throughout the entire seminar.

Fun, interesting, inspiring, a joy to listen to!

Vibrant, informative, ‘real world’ information. Excellent!

I swear these are things people have said, people I have helped start their food businesses, Janet, tell them

Geoff looked to his assistant for back up but Janet, his assistant, had already crept to the back of the room and was eyeing the door

Janet?

And they’re all still going? A man said, referring to the food businesses Geoff had helped start

Yes he said defiantly and I was proud of him but then he wavered, I think so; I don’t keep in touch with everyone

My heart sank. Geoff! What are you saying?

But what he didn’t know at that point was that we were all doing what we were there to do. Procrastinate. It was him that was letting the side down.

I swear I really tried to focus on the food business thing and what Geoff was trying to say but I was mostly just daydreaming about Geoff.

Oh if I were Geoff I would have no trouble never doing anything, that beard, that glorious beard, why he must have all sorts of combs and oils. He could twiddle it this way, twiddle it that way. He could it tie it or braid it or just wash it and go aux naturel. And those shirts! I imagined he had a whole wardrobe just for his plaid shirts. Being Geoff would give me so much more to do than just being me. I wouldn’t have time to worry about the food business I was supposed to be starting. I was only supposed to be starting it in my own head anyway, as a way to not start whatever it was I wasn’t starting. Of course there was always the option of just starting the food business. Actually just doing something for once. Was it possible? If it were then Geoff could be the one to make me do it. If he couldn’t well I would just give him a bad review. I probably wouldn’t though. I wouldn’t do that to Geoff. Geoff!

Geoff ignored what was happening and tried to get back to his script.

Working with suppliers he said reading the heading of his next topic. The room wasn’t interested though. He had no idea how to work a room.

Luckily for Geoff this wasn’t my first rodeo, that and there was no way I was going to let Geoff fuck this up for me.

I had taken a How to write historical fiction course when I had no idea or inclination to write regular fiction. I had taken a finish your screenplay course without ever starting one. That one I at least did have the inclination to start back in college but it was just a vague idea about some guys going on some sort of road trip and one of them losing something or looking for something or they were being followed. I can’t quite remember but I definitely thought I might write it all down someday. Maybe if the food business thing didn’t work out I could dig out my old note books. Only I was pretty sure I didn’t have any.

Wait! Something was happing in the room! Geoff seemed to have cottoned on to our collective condition.

There seems to be some confusion Geoff was saying

How many of you here actually want to start a food business?

The room was silent

Ok so how many of you are here because you want to stop procrastinating?

He was suddenly getting it, suddenly seeing us as for the apathetic time wasters we were.

The entire room including his assistant put their hands up

The course title was a bit misleading, you have to admit, a man next to me said

I want a refund a woman at the back yelled

A lot of people wanted refunds it seemed

An angry mob had suddenly formed and Geoff was their Quasimodo

So he did what anyone would, he fled

Does this mean I’m not going to learn how to start my food business one man said standing up

Everyone looked at him with disgust

Poor guy

The angry mob dispersed when someone noticed there were donuts

I followed a few people outside

What is it you’re not doing a woman said to me handing me her cigarette without even asking if I smoked

Why hadn’t I thought of smoking before! Surely smoking was cheaper than all these adult education classes. And this girl was doing both! Maybe she was my new Geoff. Her shirt was disappointing though.

Me, I’m running from the existential void that lies at the heart of all existence, human anyway, animals I think know what they’re doing or they don’t but they don’t care because they haven’t put all these bullshit rules and regulations and language constraints on their lives, you know she said

Oh I know I said taking one drag of her cigarette just to be polite then passing it back. I wondered if anyone had any weed. Surely that could save us all, even Geoff.

So, what is it?

I really just think I might want to start a food business I said trying to convince myself that was my true purpose in life and all roads had lead me here and to Geoff and not letting on that I just wanted to be able to pull off the lumberjack look that everyone was pulling off but me because then I might feel like a real man instead of what this was. What was this? I wondered if she might know, she seemed pretty clued up.

Just when I was about to ask her a woman in a pastel leisure suite came running up to tell us that one of us better go in there and do something or she would have to eat a donut and she had resisted them for 3 years 2 months and 12 days

That will be you then the girl with the cigarette and the existential hole said to me

I can do this I said jumping to action, suddenly feeling like maybe this was it. My true calling. Calming angry mobs.

You should probably find Geoff first the woman in the pastel leisure suit said

Ok, you stay here and share her cigarette instead of having a donut and talk about your food businesses while I go find Geoff

You know we don’t actually have food businesses right she said

I know, but you could, for Geoff

For Geoff I shouted as I dashed off to find him

He hadn’t gone far. I found him crouching behind a bin round the back trying to get a cell phone signal.

Geoff I said

Hi he said not sure if he knew me

I just came from your thing I said

Oh right, yeah, the guy who doesn’t have a food business

That’s me, but I could, and the others, they’re totally up for it, if you just come back

I don’t know, I’m thinking of getting out of this game. I think you’re right, I think I’m just procrastinating, the business is doing great, I don’t need to be here, my wife has been talking about starting a family you know and I wasn’t really ready so I started doing this

Oh I said

Sorry, I guess I’m just not the guy you thought I was

No, you are, look I said showing him the photo of himself in his plaid shirt holding his crate of not fish

Look at that guy Geoff, that’s you

How about if you taught the course for me, I mean you know a lot more about procrastinating that I do, and that’s what those guys want, right? The other stuff, if anyone really wants to know, you know about the food stuff, I can teach you, or you can just have my notes

He tried to hand me his notes

I refused

Me? Teach your course?

Why not?

I, err, I don’t have the right shirt for starters I said

I can hook you up, no problem

And I’ll need a few weeks for beard growth I said

Sure sure, no hurry. But you’ll think about it? I mean it’s perfect for you, till you work out what you do want to do, right?

I just want to be like you Geoff I thought but didn’t say because I knew it was creepy

But then he said you already are man and I knew it was written all over my face or maybe I had actually written it on my hand in marker be more Geoff and had forgotten

Oh Geoff. Geoff Geoff Geoff. With your glorious golden beard I thought as I headed back to my new flock. If they’d have me.

Turns out they would have me. I promised the shirt and beard were on the way but they didn’t really care. They just wanted somewhere to be that wasn’t where they were supposed to be and if they did actually get a food business out of it at the end then that was a bonus.

Maybe one day I too would pass the Geoff baton but for now I was happy teaching a course I knew nothing about to a bunch of people that didn’t really care as long as I looked like my photo and let them hold my crate.

Lucie Britsch: Brit writer of weird shorts and weird novels forthcoming, doesn’t take herself too seriously, essays in The Millions, more nonsense in Tincture Journal, Split Lip, Barrelhouse, Catapult, Tammy journal and Five 2 One soon.

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