Ruth and I collided as I pulled ginger snaps out of the oven. “Oh my goodness, Erin, I’m sorry,” she said. We both creak over to pick up the mess of recipe cards scattered across her kitchen floor.
“Ruth,” I say patiently, because Ruth sometimes needs a little patience. “Recipe cards? Why not punch cards? Or better yet scrawl some symbols on slabs of stone or papyrus?”
“I like to be able to pick up any card for any time to get cooking at a moment’s notice.” She looks at me a little shy. Like she isn’t 64, hasn’t cooked for 7 grandchildren, and hasn’t ever seen anything as confrontational as a cranky granny who owns a cookbook software company.
“Ruth,” I say, maybe a little less patiently. “I can’t even make out some of these, scrawled out in pencil and nearly rubbed out with butter and grease. And how long does it take you to find a card? It takes a moment’s notice to stuff a card in that old box, but how long does it take to find it again?”
“But I just like blank recipe cards. You take a blank recipe card and you can write anything you want on it. A blank recipe card is like a new day. Anything can happen.”
Ruth is a romantic. Romantic grandmas can be very stubborn people. But she’s only 64, still young and impressionable. So I put up my best argument.
“If you use my software to print your own recipe book, all your recipes will always be in alphabetical order every time by recipe type. All your cookies will always be with all your other cookies. All your soups will be with all your other soups. And when it gets so warn out that you are embarrassed to show it to your best friend–ahem–you can just print another copy. And print out a copy for her too.”
She flinches a little. “But the blank recipe cards, Erin! I love the blank recipe cards!”
I knew I had her. “So you can still use the blank recipe cards. Write on them all you want. But then staple them to the blank pages inside your recipe book. That way they stay organized. A cookie recipe card gets stapled to a cookie page in your cookbook. Once a year, type all the cards into my software, hit print, and just like that you’ve got an updated cookbook.”
She stayed silent, and I knew it was only a matter of time before I had another customer. She may have only been 64, and a romantic 64 at that. But she was old enough to see a little reason.