Pitmaster Shane D Blog

The Price of The Pictures

In the world of Social Media where everything looks perfect in every picture it's easy to assume that everyone has their shit together and everything they cook or do is as it is presented....perfect.

It's a lie.

Don’t buy the lie.

Don’t fall prey to the seduction of the illusion.

In a few words it's......fake, staged, misleading, untrue, fallacious, distorted, inaccurate, fictitious, counterfeit, fraudulent and deceptive.

The food that looks so perfect....isn't. You don’t see the stuff sitting just outside of the frame. In fact that perfect rib you're drooling over. It’s a single rib cut out of 5 different racks and then resauced to have better color in the picture.

The relationships that look amazing and perfect with the couple still holding hands after 20yrs together.....they have their problems just the same as yours and they move forward daily hoping to make just another day, week or month together. They work their way around each other (line borrowed from Bittersweet by Big Head Todd and the Monsters) in hopes of avoiding the fight that ends it all. They love each other, but its not perfect. It's not what ends up on Instagram.

The new gear from sponsors that just randomly showed up...no one talks about what it took to get it. It's never really free. It comes with ties that bind and if you aren't careful the hand that holds you up, becomes the hands that hold you down. Sponsors are the lifeblood of events and teams, but know they can be the trap that ends your run.

All those hashtags proclaiming a huge list of accomplishments intended to show how relevant the person is....no one talks about how old those accomplishments and awards are. Those in the industry know that you're still talking about a show you did years ago, but still #topchef #worldchamp #top10intheworld. I get it, you did those things but if you constantly have to shout those victories even years later are you really representing who you are now? The real champions and winners aren't reminding people how relevant they are, they are working hard everyday for the next victory.

Let's be clear, anyone who posts on SM is guilty of these slight distortions of daily life. I am. I proclaim that I'm so real and raw and unfiltered, but I'm not. I have my stack of skeletons in the closet. I struggle everyday to be a good husband, dad, son....human. I fail constantly. In some way I let everyone around me down each day. I'm so busy trying to build something that I fail my wife and my sons constantly. I'm a cheater, charlatan, calculative manipulator, addict, and way ward soul. That's real. That's raw. That's unfiltered.

I don't say any of this looking for absolution or sympathy. I am who I am and I have to deal with that. What I do hope though is that maybe we all start being a little more real with each other. Maybe we stage the pics we post a little less. Maybe we just read all those accolades with more skepticism. Maybe, well maybe we just forgive each other for those trespasses and transgressions and we just agree to do better. I don’t know, I wish I did though.

So what spurred this randomness? It's funny where thoughts come from. This picture was posted by Gunter Wilhelm today as part of SM post. I took this picture....but I thought immediately about what was happening when I took it and all the hardship to get this one picture and how it had been heavily edited to look "perfect enough" for SM.

Please understand I have nothing but praise for Gunter Wilhelm. They are a great company with fantastic products that I fully endorse and recommend. Their use of this picture was 100% authorized and I am glad they used. This is more about how there is always a story and more than meets the eye in this world.

That picture was taken at a Nascar event at Chicagoland Speedway. I was there to support Grilla Grills and promote the brand by cooking tons of samples and talking to potential new customers. I invited my dad to go with me as a benefit since I was offered tickets to each of the three races that weekend. I knew I wouldn’t have time to see the races, but at least he could enjoy them.

To attend this event I had to miss my youngest sons belt promotion to orange belt in karate. So needless to say, that wasn't ideal. Yet again it was another thing my wife had to do without me and I got to see via pictures and videos. For her it’s the same story over and over and over again when it comes to my travel and this crazy bbq thing. Needless to say, she picks up the pieces time and time again while I'm out of town. It's unfair to say the least and complete BS at its worst. She puts up with far more than she deserves in every way you can imagine and frankly is all but a single mother sometimes due to my travel schedule. If it wasn’t for her, my mother in law and my father, I have no idea how anything would get done with the kids. They all endure more than they should for me to run around and cook.

I digress though, so I can paint the picture of the event itself. Showing off the grills at the event was a great opportunity for Grilla for sure. It was a grueling weekend though. I had gotten up at 4:30am that Friday to drive the 6hrs and change to Joliet, Il. I drove straight through, got to town checked into the hotel, headed straight to the track and started working. We worked until 1am that morning since we got a last minute request to cook 18 pork butts for Gold Star family members. If you don’t know, Gold Stars are only given to families who have lost service members on active duty. It's an award you don’t really ever want to get. So without hesitation we agreed to cook for these folks and do whatever it took to get it done.

We went back to the hotel, took a nap and got up and went back to the track around 8am where we started cooking again for samples. We did pork ribs, pulled pork samples and lots of sausage. Of course if you start handing out ribs and the like to Nascar fans and the line quickly get's long and everyone is more than interested in whatever you are selling. This carried on into the evening and it was blazing HOT outside. Late that afternoon I got a text from my very close friend Dylan Lipe and he just said he was having heat issues and the medics were there. He and I traded texts and calls where possible but long and short he ended up in the hospital due to the heat.

This was not good to say the least. I was stuck on one side of the track and couldn’t get to his side of the track to help him in anyway. I didn’t have the proper credentials to even leave the area we were in. This sucked....bad. There are few feelings I hate worse than the feeling of helplessness. Sadly all we could really do was trust he was in good hands and keep on keeping on while trying to get updates. Once the race was underway we packed up our gear and left the track. We got updates from Dylan and got some food and prepared for the next day.

Sunday came, we got to the track super early. I got to the side of the track where Dylan had his trailer and all his cooking gear. Everything had been left as you would expect it. Exactly how it was being used when he started having issues. I spent an hour loading up all the grills into his trailer and the coolers into his truck and cleaning up what and where I could. It was the only thing I could do. I was the only thing I had at hand to combat the feeling of uselessness and helplessness in the situation. I was mad at myself the whole time for not being able to do more and frustrated at the whole damn situation. I just wanted to go to the hospital....honestly more than that I just wanted to go home.

Once I finished feeling inadequate and small in the light of the situation it was time to go and do what I do.....just cook. We got the food on and prepared for the biggest crowds of the weekend. I found a few minutes to walk a lap of the large VIP area just to clear my head and try to regain my composure about the whole weekend and resolved to make the best of it. It was in that time that I realized I had been so busy I hadn't taken a single picture that I had hoped to for sponsors.

So once back at our pop up tents I grabbed a cutting board and GW knife. I cleaned them both up and I took this picture. It was about 95 degrees outside. The lighting was terrible. I only had some very dirty grills or a plastic table to use to sit the cutting board on so I tried to get in close knowing I'd crop out what I had to later on. I used my Pixel 3XL phone and just did what I could with what I had. Once I took the pic I sent it out with a few others to the sponsors for their use. I never really thought it would get used for much, but at least I felt like I had fulfilled at least one thing I set out to do that day.

Fast forward a couple of hours and as we were scrambling to pack up since the race had started a huge storm formed in the distance. It was dark. It was ugly and I knew it was TROUBLE. I wasn't wrong unfortunately. Strong winds and lightening caused the stands at the track to be evacuated. We got rolling just as the strongest winds rolled in and the heaviest rain I've driven in came shortly thereafter. I don’t say that last part lightly. It was the heaviest rains I've seen out of no where. People for miles pulled off the road because it was B A D. We slowly made our way to the interstate hoping that if we got turned south it would let up. Murphy kicked our ass here again...as the storms moved southward with us for 2 straight hours. It was crazy and it quickly reminded me just how damned tired I was from the previous two days.

We eventually made it home. I was exhausted and knew what was waiting for me there. A frustrated family who wouldn’t understand any complaining about the previous events, so very little would be said about it. I had missed out on key events in their lives....again. I had left my wife holding the bag for taking care of everything....again. I smelled like smoke and looked like hell....again. It all looked great on social media while me and my family felt the weight of the cost.....again.

There is a cost associated with everything we do. Every choice we make. That includes what we post on social media. That price is high and I understand we always want to show the world just how much we are winning because we don’t want to be left behind. But the world isn't what it seems and everyone is being left behind in some fashion since we self censor anything that doesn’t look perfect. In the age of the Kardashians we are becoming less. Less gracious. Less humble. Less forgiving. Less understanding. Less real.

Be more human friends. Be more real. Be more than I am able to be most days. Until next time..... Love, peace and pork grease friends.

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