Ambush: Roger Ortiz

by | Jan 15, 2017 | Ambush, Meat Cutter's Kitchen | 4 comments

Okay, y’all. This is a pretty special ambush, and I’ll tell you why. As I’ve mentioned countless times before, I am an incredibly awkward person occasionally. And, I guess I should clarify before I offend anyone… particularly my mama. I wouldn’t say I’m awkward as much as I’m an introvert. Perhaps, it’s more that I feel awkward than I come across as awkward. Introverts are not naturally awkward. Okay, now that that’s out of the way, I can continue.

So, previously, I’ve had someone to hold my hand along the way. I’ve had someone set up the interviews for me. And, when I ambushed, I had someone by my side that broke the ice for me. This time, though, is the first time I’ve had to do it all by my lonesome. So, I had a whopping 4 hour drive to pep myself up. I had Katy Perry’s “Roar” on repeat.

“I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter
Dancing through the fire
‘Cause I am a champion, and you’re gonna hear me roar
Louder, louder than a lion
‘Cause I am a champion, and you’re gonna hear me roar!”

Okay, I’m totally kidding. I did not do that. No, no, I swear, I didn’t. I didn’t even listen to it one time. But, I probably should have and would have if I’d thought of it! Anyway, I did rehearse my script for 4 hours.

So, I arrive at Randalls in Katy, Texas. I’m crazy nervous about essentially cold calling a meat cutter. I have my notebook and my gigantic camera ready to go. But, alas, I don’t want to draw any attention to myself walking through the store with my camera and notebook, so I load them into my too small purse. I take a deep breath, throw open my car door, and I’m on my way. I’m totally owning this! I get about half way through the main driveway between the parking lot and the store when, to my horror, my purse strap just gives out. So, notebook, camera, phone, 84 lip glosses, 2 hand lotions, my wallet, checkbook, business card holder, 4 pens, mints, 2 hair ties, 16 bobby pins, yesterdays crumpled up grocery list, and, like, 36 indiscernible receipts from the past 18 months crash to the asphalt. Great. That’s flippin’ lovely. Being an introvert, I am now horrified.

I quickly collect the contents of my Mary Poppin’s bag, shove it all back in there, and just kind of look around awkwardly. Now what? How am I going to get through this store with a busted, non functioning purse? Y’all, that’s what I get for being cheap and carrying an old leather fringe purse knowing FULL WELL it was on it’s last leg. But, I love it, and I’m still mourning its loss.

Anyway, as I’m standing there for what feels like 2 hours although I’m sure it was more like 10 seconds, I notice a TJMaxx a couple stores down. Okay. I’ve got this. It’s time to purse shop. So, instead of going into Randalls, I go to TJMaxx. Have y’all ever been in one of those? Oh lordy… it’s crazy. They have so many lovely things, and I need to look at every. single. one. But, I don’t! I go straight to the purses, peruse a while, and settle on a new bag. $80 later, I’m ready to go. (This time, I only transfer my wallet, checkbook, 2 lip glosses, 1 hand lotion, my business card holder, 1 pen, the notebook, and the camera. It’ll only be a matter of, like, 3 days before all the other random, non essentials magically appear in my bag again. But, whatever.)

Roger Behind The Counter

So, I cruise into Randalls. I’m certain everyone saw my mishap in the parking lot. Nonetheless, I head straight to the meat counter pretending nothing ever happened. And, here, I meet a most gracious man by the name of Roger Ortiz. Thank God for Roger! He was such a gem for my first, lonesome ambush!

I can’t exactly recall what I said to him because I was just that nervous. I’m sure it was some rearranged version of my script that I’d practiced for the previous 4 hours. At least, I hope so. His response: “I’ve never heard of anybody talking about meat cutters.”

Well, Roger, now you have! And, people should be talking about meat cutters. He’s happy as can be to answer my questions. He tells me he’s been in the profession for 33 years, and he started in Florida.

Me: Oh, what brought you to Texas?
Roger: (laughing) That’s a LOOOONG story.
Me: Okay, I won’t push it. (It probably has something to do with a lady friend, right? Haha. That’s just my guess. I guess it could be any number of things.)

With my ambushes, I have a set list of questions. So, I move on.

“Roger, what’s your favorite tool of the trade?” I ask him. Honestly, I’m expecting that he’ll tell me it’s a Forschner Victorinox knife of some sort because, to date, every single meat cutter we’ve spoken to has offered that as their answer. He surprises me.

RogerSHe turns to his work station and pulls out something I recognize though I don’t know what it’s called. It looks like the sharpener my husband uses to make our knives ridiculously sharp thus ensuring I will slice my fingers when trying to wash it. (Yes, that has happened. In fact, my right index finger no longer has feeling in part of it thanks to my very own Forschner Victorinox 6″ boning knife and sharpening thing.) He says, “a steel… because if you don’t have these, you don’t have knives.”

Ah, so that’s what that’s called. I like that. Good answer, Roger. And, isn’t that the truth? I know this firsthand, remember.

We chat a little while longer. He kindly answers all of my questions. He tells me his very favorite part of the job is the customers. “We work for them. When they tell me that’s a nice cut of meat, that’s the best feeling!” And, honestly, that answer doesn’t surprise me. Roger seems to be the type to enjoy helping others. His warm personality and willingness certainly put a little wind in my sail. Roger just being who Roger is gave me the confidence to go on and ambush two other meat cutters that day. I could not have had a more perfect encounter (minus the part before I actually made it into the store). He’s a special fella, and I would encourage anyone in the Katy, Texas, area to go see him. Tell him the crazy lady talking about meat cutters sent you!

ROGER ORTIZ

ROGER ORTIZ

Randalls | Katy, TX

The Nitty Gritty

YEARS IN MEAT CUTTING: 33 years
FAVORITE TOOL OF THE TRADE: Honing Steel
BATTLE SCARS: 
“In 33 years, never. I use my gloves all the time. The company makes you wear them now, but before that, I bought my own. Safety, you know?”
FAVORITE CUT OF MEAT:
“Flank steak. You can cook it so many different ways. You have to know how you’re supposed to cook that.”
DO YOU LIKE TO COOK? 
“33 years… it’s all I know.”
EVER HEARD OF DAVID LETTERMAN’S “KNOW YOUR CUTS OF MEAT”? 
No
WHAT I LOVE MOST ABOUT ROGER: 
He has a super great attitude! He certainly put a girl at ease!