Thursday, January 31, 2008

My Wonderful Hometown

I grew up in a small town on the outskirts of Atlanta, Georgia. We went to the Varsity to eat every Friday night... and if you haven't heard of the Varsity... I highly recommend it for not only great food, but a Lube job as well. On Friday nights, after leaving the Varsity, my Dad would drive over to the Planter's Peanut shop to pick up a bag of warm, fresh roasted peanuts. They were absolutely the best . If we were good, he would turn around and drive down Fourteenth Street to let us look at the "hippies." God, Atlanta was as big as New York to me in my youth. The town I grew up in was ABSOLUTE "Americana." Kids were free to walk everywhere by themselves, go to the 'East Point' Theater , or the swimming pool alone, with no worries that ANYTHING would ever go wrong. It was a time that one of the mothers in the neighborhood would load up her Ford station wagon with ten kids from our block, and drop us off at Six Flags Over Georgia at ten in the morning, and another Mother would pick us all up at the gate at closing... never with any worry other than we might run out of money and just have to drink out of the water fountain, instead of buying "cherry berries". People were simpler then, times were almost "Leave it To Beaverish." It saddens me to be such a worry wart about my kids... and it certainly bugs the Crap out of them. But the times that I grew up in were times of hard work, Christian values, and morals that still applied to every waking person. Me and my friends would walk the two miles to the swimming pool every day of the summer... get there at ten, and swim until six, when the pool closed... never any calls home, or texts from the folks.. they just knew we would be okay. I cannot imagine letting my twelve year old daughter go ANYWHERE for that many hours , without being in contact with her, and knowing what was going on. I do not ever see that point in time returning, nor can I see never worrying about my kids constantly. That , to me is a very sad statement of the society that we live in today. I truly wish that I could just let my kids go and BE kids, but I cannot. I wish that I could drop my younger children off at Six Flags in the morning, and not have to worry about them until I picked them up at eleven. But I can't. And THAT is what bothers me most about today's times and lack of values. When did people completely lose their sense of what is right and wrong... and how did SO many weirdos come to walk around among us ? Granted, I know many, many wonderful people ; but what disillusions me is the growing number of unstable, totally 'Whacked" out people that walk among us. My kids say that I am paranoid ... and they are completely right. It makes me start to think about what life will be like for my future grandchildren.. Will they be able to walk to the community pool, and spend the day, or will I have to go and watch them every second? I was truly blessed to have grown up in a more secure, loving, knowing environment; and I am grateful for that fact all of the time. Our kids are under tremendous amounts of pressure and situations that I would have never in my wildest dreams thought would come to light. I try not to dwell on it too much, but it is a constant in my mind. Can our future EVER turn for the better, or will all of us live in a state of worry and paranoia? I have begun to believe that... you know what? WE are the ONLY things that can start a change... WE are the only ones that can turn things around. We need to quit living in a scared shell, and start boasting to the world... that we are "MAD AS HELL' AND WE AREN'T GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE!!" How else can we change the world, if not step by step, person by person, voice by voice? Maybe I am crazy, maybe I am a visionary; but I am a MOTHER, and this is a top priority on my list.. Anyone want to join me?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

My Big Bro

As long as I am persecuting my family, I thought that I would include my brother. He is the middle child in our line-up. My sister was the oldest, after; came Chris to be followed by the unexpected surprise of me. He has always been a brain... (maybe he was adopted). I remember my first day in high school. The morning announcements came over the intercom... "Chris Leach... please come to the office." I thought.."how cool is that to have your brother's name called out ..first thing on your first day?" It turned out NOT to be a good thing, and over that year, I heard it called quite frequently. He was in the ROTC program for military, and wore a Nazi helmet when the actual military came to "inspect the troops" It goes without saying , that he flunked military. He also was the instigator in most of the pranks that went on in our school. Pulling fire alarms, taking dissected frogs from the Biology department, and stretching them over the water fountain spigots in the hallway... He was suspended after the first girl fainted. He was suspended again, when he pulled down all the fire doors in the school, and banged on them from the other side " FIRE. FIRE. get OUT !" Of course this was in the seventies, and things were not quite as crazy in the REAL world. I remember when we had a newspaper drive to collect papers. He and a couple of his friends took the wheels off of a cheer leader's car and left it sitting on a stack of newspapers. Needless to say, my parents found out about the local Police Department and their willingness to let let young people go to the release of their parents. ( Thank the Lord he is not growing up in today's times). He was an amazing tennis player( a gift he got from my Dad), and a really intelligient guy. He fluffed his way through high school, and went on to Georgia Tech. After beating one of the tennis team's members.. ( who was royally ticked), and deciding after my mom's death that he was ready for the working world.. He began a career in the freight business. He has climbed every ladder, made every move to another state that they have wanted, and is an envied, respected man in his company. From a GOOF to a boss... and my hat goes off to him for his achievements. His humor is still there, and it is unrelenting. He tortures all of his nephews, and recently his niece, to no end. It can be verbal abuse, or physically tickling them to death, or just pestering the crap out of them. But he is an ABSOLUTE great guy. Every Christmas Eve, he goes shopping for the kids at the ATM, and they are ALL always THRILLED with their present.... Let me add that he is a BIG spender. He reminds me of my Dad so much that it makes my heart ache.. My Dad was the greatest man that I have ever met on this Earth, and my brother is a very close second best. He let's me remember my Dad through him, and see what a totally blessed person I am to have the family that I have.. and although he can be a pain in the ass sometimes.. HEY !! That sometimes reminds of my Dad too !! But I have loved and love them both. My life would not be complete with out them . He is the greatest guy I have ever had the chance to meet and know, and just for the fact that he loves me and my kids... is the greatest feeling that a sister can have about a bachelor brother, that I hope has kids one day; that I can love, abuse and torture like he has mine... but my kids LOVE their Uncle... and I love him too

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

My Sister

I am currently forty seven years old, zooming down the path to forty eight. My sister is fifty "something" (just in case she reads this blog.) She is my best friend (sorry Lisa), she is my mentor, she is my gravitational device on this Earth. Our Mother died when I was seventeen, my sister was in her early twenties. We were both completely lost without our mother.. she was one in a million.. and that is a mild statement to make; especially if you knew our Mother. In the years that have passed, we have grown closer and closer. If there is one thing that I am sure of in my life; it is that my sister will ALWAYS have my back. She supports me, corrects me when I need it, and guides me when she knows I need guidance. She is ABSOLUTELY the most fascinating, inspired, and enigmatic person that I have ever had the fortune of knowing. How she does all the things I admire and love her for totally amaze me, and make me Thank God every day that He blessed me with such a marvelous person as Cin for a sister. She raised two boys as a single mother, helped raise me, and totally took care of my father in his quick decline into Alzheimer's. Without her I would not be even half the person that I am today; nor would be, all the people who's live's she has touched and changed. I hope that every person that reads this has a sister or a relative, or a friend that means to them what Cindy means to me. From the bottom of my heart, and the depths of my soul.. I Thank God every day that I have my sister, and Thank God above the He gave her to me of all people.. I hope that you can be as lucky one day. And Hey Cin... Thanks for loving me !! Till next time... COTTON

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Fat Lip

My oldest son is now 21. He is a handsome, smart, articulate man now... but in his younger days... that is another story. He has always been sensitive. He is my step son, but that has always been a non factor with me. I met my husband when TJ was turning two, and from that point on, he has been considered my son in my eyes and in my heart. He got snowballed into a family of men; my sister had two boys, close to TJ's age, and I had a brother, and my husband has four. TJ was such a "feelings" kind of kid... I remember when I first met him, before he turned two. I was doing my best to impress him with my old cheer leading skills. I did my old stand by regular cheer that we did at the basketball games... " U, G, L, Y .. you ain't got no alibi.. you ugly ... yeah, yeah , you ugly! ( let me comment that I went to a diverse, high school, at the beginning of integrating schools; and the blacks had the best cheers and chants) Let me add here that we were ALWAYS rockin the house. TJ broke into tears after this, to my utter amazement.... It was just a cheer, but it went straight to TJ's soul. He was crushed. Needless to say , I never said "that" cheer again, but it lets you know what a sensitive person was being formed at the age of three. My sister's two boys were rough and tumble types, growing up so close in age. TJ was my only child; had a sister from his biological Mom's side. I remember one of my nephews saying one time to my sister.. " I love TJ, but he's a baby". Yes he was, and he still is my first baby. When he was about five, I enrolled him at a summer camp at my childhood church.. along with my two Rough and tumble nephews, and two of my sister's best friends sons.. two more rough and tumble guys . I remember the first morning that I dropped him off in the breezeway at my old church ...I looked in the rear view mirror to see my sister's friends boy snatching off TJ's hat and making him jump to try to catch it. I thought to myself " try to survive, I'll be back at 4PM to get you." He did survive, and actually had fun at the camp, and maybe toughened a bit. But then when he was about ten, we had another meltdown of his fat lip. ( He has the fattest lips I have ever seen on anyone.. he makes Mick Jagger look tight lipped) . We all went to Florida for vacation.. Me, my husband, TJ, his brother, my sister, her two tormenting sons, my dad, my brother(also a tormentor) and my sister's husband. After a fun filled week on the beach, we all packed up to leave, met at the gas station right down the street from the rental house, and all gassed up. I must insert here that this was before everyone on God's green Earth had a cell phone. (how did we survive without them this long?) Everyone got back into their cars, and we proceeded to the highway to head back to Atlanta. About five miles down the road, I asked my husband where TJ was, and we pulled up to every car in our caravan, making hand signs and motions, like " DO YOU HAVE TJ IN YOUR CAR??" Every car responded "NO", and the entire caravan turned around to travel back to the gas station that we had all gathered at.... And there stood little TJ, with his fat lip out so far that we could have all hopped a ride home on it. He was SOOO mad at us, and more ticked that we all laughed at ourselves for leaving him. HEY!! Who knew ? Thank the Lord, that he created the world wide web and widespread cell phone usage right after we all left my son at a gas station in Panama City Florida !! How lucky were we? Or should I say "how lucky was TJ? " He still to this day, says he has blocked that out of his memory.. standing on the corner, with his gummy worms in his hand, saying "Where in the heck ARE they"? Needless to say... every time we go on a trip now.. TJ is the first one in the car. His lips are still fat, but pouting for different reasons now....Probably because of this latest post... but you are stuck with me as a Mother, and get used to it... you kids are too much material to ignore. Till later...COTTON

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Cat Whisperer

Last Thanksgiving, my whole family loaded up in the car and drove to St. Augustine to spend Thanksgiving with my Mother in law. She is the sweetest, most able seventy year old woman that I have ever loved or met. She has dug and built several ponds on her property.. built a six foot privacy fence around her entire yard for all her animals.. a ten foot high gazebo that is spectacular.. has a vegetable garden that has all kinds of food growing. She is the most amazing woman that I have ever been lucky enough to meet. I told her I was writing this blog about her, and said that I hope she didn't mind if I called her "eccentric" .. to which she said " that means I have money.. so just call me a little crazy ." She has 4 dogs (at last count), and at least 40 cats. Maybe the cat number is extreme.. but it seemed like that many to me. We arrived at 4 in the morning.. dragging in totally exhausted. The first remark my daughter made was " my Mama hates cats." She had her own bedroom made up for me and my husband.. fresh sheets, blankets and fluffy pillows. It was Heaven... She said "just don't touch or pick up the cats and you will be fine." She closed the door and my nightmare began. I turned to tell my husband that I was a little skid dish about the cats, only to see a fluffy tail waving back and forth in my face. I immediately heard a cat scratching it's paws under the mattress, and looked up to see eight pair of glowing eyes staring down at me from the cat walk she had built across the top of her bedroom wall. My husband said " just pull the covers up close to your face. I did that,only to find another "kitty" staring me in the face. I finally said that I was going to open the door to let some of the cats out.. did just that; and two more cats ran in. Needless to say it was a long night... even though we got there at four in the morning. The next day, I walked into the living room to a cat eating out of a pumpkin Pie that she had baked. My sister in law was there too, and we proceeded to help with the cooking activities. When you turn on a burner on her gas stove, a little "POOF" of cat hair ignites the flame . This does not bother Betty in the least. These animals are the most sacred thing in her life.. they are more important to her than her own health or well being. She is the most unselfish, caring and genuine person that I have ever had the honor to meet. Her animals are her family... she cares more about them than she does herself...and I love this woman almost as much as I loved my own mother. These animals that live with her are her being.... they give her comfort, love and feelings of companionship. Isn't that what we all want out of life? I might also add that she is one of the most talented artists that I have ever met.. You know what they say.. artists are aways weird.. but my mother in law is one of the most fascinating and totally perfect people that I have ever met. If she is weird.. I hope that I am weird one day too. Till later COTTON

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Girl who "Text" Wolf

I have a twelve year old daughter. She is the only other female in my house besides me.. except for the one Boxer female. It is tough living with males, but we seem to survive. Probably because we enjoy bossing the men around so much. She is my youngest, born eighteen years to the day that my mother died. That was always such a horrible day to remember, but now it is my daughter's birthday. My mother and God above have turned it into a day that is now sweet to remember. She was born two months premature, and was so quiet for the first 4 years of her life... since then, she hasn't quit talking. She and I are best friends, and I love her dearly. She got a cell phone recently, and immediately began her "texting" career. She is constantly on her phone... a lot of the time to me. I can be at work or the grocery store, or in the shower, and hear that little "beep" and know that Massey has something important to tell me. Usually, it is "can U get Dr. Pepper on the way home?" or "I have a headache, can U Check me out of school?" Sometimes I will text her back and say "get off your phone, and do your schoolwork!!" Then she will respond immediately " I am in the restroom." I will text back and say "DO NOT TEXT ME AGAIN" all capitals to let her know I mean it. Then she rapidly responds "OK" I will type back, "do NOT text me again." Thinking she will get the message. And then I hear the beep....check my phone, and she has replied yet again "Yes Mam" Sometimes, it is "what is for dinner?" or "can I go home with Breanna" ? It amazes me , this new world of "text"nology. How did my mother raise three kids without a cell phone? Granted, sometimes it is a message that I need to hear, but more often,it is a message that just because she has finished her schoolwork, and has been lucky enough to slip off to the bathroom... she feels the need to text me her thoughts.... immediately. I will have to hand it to her though.. she IS my link to all of this new technology. She set up my blog page for me, designed the font, colored the print, and made it "prettyful" That is a big word with her.. kinda like her use of the word "pimpilious" or "smartiful" ( I don't know how crazy I am about that those two) But she is a truly sweet girl, with a heart as big as the Pacific Ocean. She still loves her Mama, and that is a BIG kudo for me. She helps me constantly with my computer, cell phone, and trouble with the DVR. Where and how did these kids get SO smart and savvy with all of this technology? And still they can't seem to unload a dishwasher , or bring their dirty clothes down to the laundry room? But I ALWAYS check my texts from her.. although most every one of them is just "chatting" . At least I know that if she EVER does truly need me.. I am just a "beep" away. I guess by the time she has kids, they will just jump into their space car, and zip over to their Mom's galaxy , or Blink themselves over like on "I Dream of Jeannie" . The future is a scary place for me, but at least still having young kids; I feel a little more in touch... At least I have a twelve year old daughter that still talks to me, hugs and kisses me goodnight and doesn't mind being seen with me in public.... I must be doing something right . Till next time Cotton

Sunday, January 20, 2008

My extended family

I have a wonderful immediate family, a terrific husband, three great kids, a sister and brother in law, and a brother that is related to me whether he likes it or not! I have such an amazing extended family that I do not know what I have done to deserve, but cherish just the same. One of my closest friends at work actually came to me with the idea of starting this blog. It is the greatest thing that has happened to me in a while. Once I finally get published ... she will be my manager...right now, she just manages my life. We are co-"Head Waitresses" at the restaurant we both work at... a title that we gave ourselves; but one that all the other servers seem okay with ...not that they have a choice. They probably all throw a party on the days that she and I are not there to boss them around and tell them what to do. Of course she and I are mothers... and we tend to be the greatest and most efficient bosses in the world (just ask our husbands.) The rest of my extended family is the group of 75 or so that I work with six days a week. I am closer to some than others; but we have a tremendous bond with each other. We work under a huge amount of "pressure" ( that's what we'll call the public in this post). I would call a busy shift "controlled Chaos" at best. The kitchen guys are the best I have ever worked with, the management team is exceptional; and us?? We are just there to try to pump out the food as quick as possible, that people order fast and furiously....nobody wants a cold steak or potato. We all work together as a team, and for the most part do a pretty fantastic job. We have our ups and downs...spats and disagreements...but when all is said and done... We are the LHORN family, and a tighter group you will be hard pressed to find. One recent example. At Thanksgiving, my husband was laid off without any reason or notice. He had just had a great employee evaluation, and been given a three percent raise. It was the first time he had ever lost a job, and the first time in over 25 years that he was unemployed. He and I were both smacked in the face with our reality of living on a server's salary. Every Christmas at my restaurant, we donate to a needy family. Since Christmas was 4 weeks away... The signs were already up at the restaurant...we were helping a single mom with 4 kids. I went to the girls collecting money to make a $20 donation. My friends said no... they said Tim and I had our own troubles, and to keep the money. I told them to accept my money... I am a firm believer in what goes around comes around. Work was really busy this Holiday season, and I had the opportunity to really pick up a lot of shifts for extra money. But with bills still piling in; I started to panic. The Friday before Christmas, when it was time to take the money we had raised to the single mom... I was called to the back of the restaurant by the two girls collecting the money and was handed an envelope. Inside a Christmas card was a heart stopping note from all of my fellow workers... the single mom was fictitious.. they were collecting for my family! I tried to refuse the money, but they insisted it was what they wanted to one of their own. I threw my arms around them and literally sobbed in their arms. It was positively the most thoughtful, sweet and kind thing that anyone has ever done for me. My kids got every single thing they wanted for Christmas, thanks to this group of random people that are not blood related to me in any way; but are as much my family as my husband, brother and sister and my kids. I have never felt more overwhelmed by a gift, or appreciative of the true acts of complete friendship and selflessness that these people showed me. I cried for days; tears of joy, gratitude, and relief. It was absolutely the most wonderful Christmas I have ever had ... Thanks to my extended family. I have always loved my job, but how truly blessed am I that the people at my job love me too? How lucky am I to have come upon this group of people that in my time of need; not only stepped up to the plate, but let me know that they all loved and cared for not only me, but my family as well? I will never forget their generosity and love... and I love each and every one of them as much as a person possibly can. I saved the Christmas card with their sweet note, and each of their names written in it. It will be kept forever (trust me , I am a pack rat... and it WILL be kept) I am one of the luckiest people in the world to have my extended family, and even luckier that they want to have me be a part of theirs. It is not just a job to is a living; made worth while... by this group of people that I am lucky enough to have in my life, and lucky enough to call my friends. And you know what? What goes around DOES come around...Just ask me.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

It amazes me....the public sector

Just home from work again.. after cleaning up where my kids roosted, ate, drank and watched the "boob" tube... I put in another load of laundry, and sat down to type. People can be so very nice, and they can be complete asses. (pardon the expression) I work in a REALLY busy restaurant. I realize that "eatin out ain't cheap" .. that is why my family doesn't do it too much. But where in the "eating out handbook" does it say that you can treat servers like "servants" ? I had a gentleman ( using the term loosely to cover a broad category) at my table one night. Granted, it was a tremendously busy night, and I was on the point of being "in the weeds" ( refer back to an earlier post if you do not recognize this term). I put their steaks down in front of them, said " I'll be right back to check on you" and continued to try to catch up with myself. Before I could get back to the table, the "ole coot" stopped a manager and said that he was appalled at my lack of service.... I did not even offer him steak sauce. Well, we are trained not to offer steak sauce, because we are trained to learn that our steaks are perfect when they hit the table. We put a lemon butter sauce on our steaks when we cook them, and on them once again before they go out to the table. It is a great sauce for a steak.. I actually do it at my house when grilling at home.... try it some time, and you will be amazed at my giving you this little secret. ANYHOOO....... the man continued to tirade ON AND ON AND ON. I live and work on the south side of Atlanta, which I guess I have to say is not as affluent as downtown Atlanta, or the Buckhead area of Atlanta. Well this "dude".... I refuse to call him a gentleman any longer.. just kept on and on with me..using GOD****, a lot, and several other curse words that I felt were totally offensive. All of this over me not offering him steak sauce. When I went to apologize (which I did not want to do in the first place..but I need my job) He told me ... Well all I have to say is that you give typical "south side" service. I was in tears at this point, and his wife gave me an apologetic look, like "think how it is to live with this "A HOLE ". " But you know what? That is the last time a customer has made me cry. Was this idiot worth me getting ALL worked up and upset, and wasting my emotions over a bottle of A-1 ?? Of course my manager had to apologize for me, and act like we had done something wrong. But how on Earth, do people get SO bent out of shape over such a small, insignificant situation? I have waited for several years to see this man out on the street, and to walk up to him, and say " you are the most trivial and mean spirited man I have ever met, and I hope that one day you truly realize the meaning and concept of being a caring and thoughtful human being." Of course it would mean nothing to him, but would give me great joy....and maybe his wife a shot at some happiness. Till next time... Cotton

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

My middle child

My middle child is 15 years old...going on thirty. He is so intelligent that sometimes I wonder who his real parents are! Unfortunately he doesn't like to put forth much, if any effort into his school work. His arguments are vast and varied. Number one: he hates that you are judged by grades and numbers. Number two: All his teachers are mean and unrelenting. Number three: the whole world is against him. I guess that third one goes for most all fifteen year olds. My oldest son was so easy going and sweet at fifteen.... I should have known I had my repayment coming. My son has ADD. He was diagnosed in kindergarten. (his second time through) I always say he liked kindergarten so much, he did it twice !! In third grade he started taking medicine... and immediately started making straight A's. I wasn't really crazy about him taking a stimulant; as he had no hyperactivity, just the inability to concentrate. The next year, a new drug came out strictly for focusing. It was not a level two drug and was not a stimulant. I felt much better about him being on this new medication, and his grades were still high. By the time he hit the fifth grade, the "Rebel" in him began to rear it's ugly head. He said it was his body, and he didn't want to put drugs in it. I thought to myself " I'll remember that when I catch you smoking pot when you are a teenager!" But I thought I'd let him try it his way. It has been a constant and uphill battle from the moment he quit taking his medication. He is so bright and smart; but refuses to use his ability in school. He can tell you about ANYTHING or knows more about history, government, and science than any college professor that I ever had. Yet he can't pass Algebra. Let me rephrase that... he doesn't TRY to pass algebra. Let me give you a small example of his thinking.. even at the age of 5. It was before I took my kids to church. I grew up in the church, and had loving Christian parents. If the doors were open; we were all there. But I slipped out of the habit in my twenties, and preferred to "home school" my kids in religion... usually listening to "Jesus Christ Superstar" booming on the stereo while we picked up around the house on Sunday mornings. On Easter, we were driving in my van over to my sister's house for dinner. My son was in his car seat in the back, and as we passed a church with the three crosses on their front lawn, I commented to him; "you know they put a nail through each of Jesus' hands, and through his feet when they put him on the cross. " To which my 5 year old replied quite calmly... " I thought they hung him with a rope." I was glad he could see me trying to suppress my laughter, and said "no, they just call it hanging from the cross. " He asked me why there were two other crosses; to which I replied, there was a robber on either side of Jesus. I went on with my lesson.. saying, "you know what Jesus said to all of the people that did that to him, right before he died.....He said I forgive you". My son looked quietly out the window, and said " Well, I would have said: I Will GET you." I remarked, well that is why your name is Zachary, and his name is Jesus... and we will all be in church next week !! It just amazed me how his little 5 year old brain worked. He has continued to amaze me over the years with his knowledge; although his report cards hardly show it. My husband said if we can just get him through school, he will probably be the next Bill Gates. Recently though, he told me he is tired of making bad grades, and will apply himself more towards his school work. I hope that he does. His father and I are waiting for him to come out of the fog that he seems to be struggling through, and live up to the huge potential he has. Every teacher he has comments on his intelligence, and great gift of debate.... he would make an excellent lawyer...he has been told this by the principal who called him into his office one time for a chat. I pray for all my kids, and I pray for my sanity almost as much. Kids are the greatest blessing as well as the greatest challenge that life can throw your way. Enjoy them as much as you can, because time seems to go by in the blink of an eye. My oldest is 21, and it seems like yesterday he was watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, playing Tee ball, and still liked me to tuck him into bed at night. I hope I am not aging as quickly as them....unfortunately we all know that I am!!

Friday, January 11, 2008

I work at the Greatest restaurant in the world

I have been at my restaurant for almost ten years. After being in the service industry for 28 years... I know what a good Store is. We always help each other out.. between back-biting and in-fighting.. of course that goes on in my own family just as well. We are very good about caring about our own. One of our servers got a notice in the mail about three years ago. He was in the inactive reserve, and got sent a notice about reactivating his benefits. He freaked out... with the conflict ( I thought that I would be nice and use THAT term) going on overseas. I told him not to worry about it, they would never call him back into service; they want the young guys. At this point , let me say that I constantly forget that I am 47 and EVERYONE that I work with is in their twenties. Of course this was at the beginning of our "TOUR DE IRAQ", and at that point in time, everyone was saying that it would be quick, and over soon. One week later, he got his notice... report in thirty days to Ft. Benning. I was so devastated for him, I had assured him the notice he first received was nothing to worry about, and now he was being sent directly into the line of fire. He was assigned to ride the turret in the Humvee, holding a gun that weighed more than he and I both, and stuck out of a vehicle like a target. I was at that time, an Assistant Coordinator for the after school program at my kid's school ( besides working at Longhorn on the weekends). I got every child in my program to write Kevin ( my soldier) from pre-K to fifth grade. The letters were funny, amazing, some sad, some from kids who had a parent already other there. I decided to get together a small package to send to his unit... just some AA batteries, wet wipes, insect repellent, gum.. nothing but small items. The response from my kids was totally amazing. They brought in DVD's, spices, socks. Two of the boys; precious twins that have Cerebral Palsy, not to mention that their Dad had just died at the age of 43 from a brain tumor, had a yard sale over the weekend, and raised enough money to buy Kevin an IPOD, plus all the accessories. I took the IPOD to Lhorn, and had two of Kevin's closer friends take it home, and they downloaded 400 songs for him, and we shipped it off to the troops, including tampons and cigarettes that I bought without telling the school... Just for the women that I know were in his troop, and for the simple fact that if I was in Bagdad, I would probably want a smoke too. When Kevin (luckily came home from Iraq) I took him up to the school to meet the kids that had sent him not only about 200 letters, but a 70 pound package full of everything you could imagine. He spoke to the kids, answered their questions, and amazingly, called the twins that had bought him the IPOD up to the front of the Cafeteria ( I had told him about them just losing their father, who had been a Sailor). He gave those little boys a Bronze Medal that he had received for pulling soldiers out out a burning jeep that had been hit by a roadside bomb. The twins told their Mother when she came to pick them up, that it was the greatest day in their life. Kevin not only made a difference to America, but to two 6 year old boys, that will never have their Dad back, but remembered another hero as well, and felt so proud to support a member of our Nation's military. Those six year old boys speak VOLUMES for America, their Mother, Father, and the values that those parents instilled in their sons.Kevin is now happily married to a wonderful woman that I know is so totally grateful he is home and healthy, and is still loved totally by our Lhorn staff.. not to mention the entire student population of White Oak Elementary . Later...COTTON

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The "Bread" Cutter

We were laughing at work recently about an episode I had at work a few months ago. I work in a mid priced Steakhouse, in an all too wealthy community. (obviously I commute to work). We serve bread with all meals...and you know if it's free; they ALL want it. It is a multi grain Boulle, served with butter, and the customers eat it up like nobody's business. Actually at work, we like to call it "Christian Crack." It is just a large round loaf of bread that everyone that walks into our store is rabid for. It is served on a little cutting board with a small dish of butter, and a steak knife stuck in the end of it so that you can cut it into slices. Sometimes you will even go up to greet a table, saying "Hi, my name is Kelly", and they will immediately say, can we get some bread?... Like I am withholding something from them intentionally... although actually as a saleswoman, I would like to sell them something first! But I am ALWAYS happy to bring them their "FIX" , and keep the bread "Jonesing" down to a minimum. I had two couples one night; nicely dressed, about my age.. a little uppity for me... but HEY it's ALL good when serving the public for your paycheck! I brought the mandatory first loaf, and one of the women asked for another loaf (of course!) I said cheerily.."SURE, I"ll be right back with it !" Then the other woman spoke up, and said to my utter amazement... "and could you cut it up for us?" Well, if she had been handicapped in any way, or maimed, hurt, or obviously unable to cut up her bread, I would have happily and cheerfully done so. But this woman could have been my twin sister, in great health; maybe her hand hurt from the 5 carat diamond ring weighting down her "cutting Hand". I asked if they were serious, thinking they were kidding, to which I got a haughty reply.."could you? " I said happily.. sure I can, ( hiding a smirk ) and took their precious, uncut loaf back to the bread station. I held it down with a wax paper sheet and hacked it into five or six slices for them, and took it back to their throne.... I mean table. The other woman, I guess noticing my chagrin at having to slice up bread for perfectly competent people my own age; said.. " I think what my friend meant, is that she thought you had some bread cutting machine in the back that could slice it for us ." I think at this point I should have just let it go, but in my 28 years as a server, I have had handicapped people, mentally impaired people , or older people with arthritis so bad they could hardly hold a fork; and this woman found it okay to ask me to slice her stinkin bread up. So when the friend commented about the "bread cutting machine" , I just couldn't help but reply.... "'s just me and a knife!! " People amaze me every day, not only at work, but in almost every instance I encounter with the public. Of course I still love my job, ( and so far haven't gotten fired with my friendly, yet amusing humor...or maybe it's just us employees that think I am so funny!)It is a tough job being a public servant .. they need to find another word to replace "servant", and maybe I would feel better. But all in all, I LOVE my job, I am good at it, and most people love to have me wait on them. Just another thing that I wanted to put out there, and I am sure that millions of other servers can relate TOTALLY. Till next time...Cotton

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

my visit from the girls in the home

One day at the restaurant that I work at, I had the delightful opportunity to wait on a table of 10 women from the Alzheimer's home, along with 2 of their caregivers (two remarkably upbeat, sweet and caring women). They had taken the ladies out to the local Walmart to have manicures and pedicures, and then brought them to Longhorn for a lunch. The first woman that I went to, to take her drink order was adamant that she wanted a Bloody Mary. I wish I could tell you how much she choked, coughed and gagged as she sipped her first spicy drink in no telling how many years. But the caregivers were sweet to let her have it, and I can't blame them... if that ends up to be me one day... I want someone to let me have a drink "for Pete's sake.. I am old enough to drink.. and SOMEBODY bring me one! " Of course they had to tell Edith to inhale... "now Edith...exhale " I thought to my myself... that could be a full time job just to remind this lady to breathe. It took forever to take the order, and at some points, the caregivers would just take over the orders as the women just could not gather their thoughts enough to remember why they were even there. Some of the more agile women would just get up from the table and go wandering around the restaurant, and we would have to go gather them up like hens, and shoo them back to their table. After I got all the food on the table, one of the ladies wanted to go to the restroom...stating that she was 70 years old and could go by herself. After a few minutes, she returned to the table, sat back down in her seat... and proceeded to take her granny panties, that she had removed in the bathroom; and stretch them across her dinner plate, covering the entire plate with the elastic band...totally elated with herself for managing such a feat! The care givers went into tears laughing so hard. They said that after ten years of working with Alzheimer's patients... this was a first. They so sweetly took her back to the restroom to put her panties back on, while I clucked around the rest of the chickens; trying to keep them all in their seats, constantly head counting and remembering to say "Edith, inhale.....exhale " . My hat goes off to those caregivers, their dedication, sweet patience and respect for these women that led totally independent lives at some point... probably raised a house full of kids, had careers and a love life.. to one day be returned to the state of a toddler, having to be under constant supervision and care. It was one of the most remarkable and memorable days I have ever had .. waiting on these sweet, totally unaware women. It made me think of my Father who was in the beginning stages of the disease when the Lord so mercifully took him home to his well deserved glory. He feared losing his capacity to function... and I do not blame him one bit. But these ladies were lucky enough to have excellent care.. a day out on the town.. manicures, pedicures ( I would like to have been witness to THAT experience!) It made my day to have the honor of waiting on these women, let them enjoy the outside world, and be treated like the absolute queens for a day... that each and every one of them were. It was one of my most satisfying days as a server, and I hope that someone takes such good care of me; if I ever find myself in their shoes. God bless the ole folks... if not for them, we wouldn't even be here !! Till next time.... Cotton

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Well, another night is upon me, my 15 year old is upstairs having his guitar lesson, the dishwasher is running, the husband is in bed, my youngest is asleep, my oldest is out running ( I don't like to think about what he may be doing) Actually, my youngest son is upstairs introducing his guitar teacher to "Rock Band" ..Thank the Lord he has already had his lesson, because "Rock Band" seems to be all the craze these days. If they had as awesome a game as Rock Band when I was young, I may have never met a 'SLOE GIN FIZZ". How in the heck did we drink that stuff? I can remember nights in Underground Atlanta when we were young... Thank the Lord that my kids don't know about it. Times in the seventies were SO different from today. Back then we were worried about getting caught by our parents, lying about where we were spending the night.. today, you worry about your children getting molested, or raped and killed by an absolute FREAK of nature. It amazes me that we have progressed SO far, to only find out that there are so many FREAKS, and PREDATORS that will just come swooping into your life, only to snatch away the one that you hold dear. A man was arrested in North GA. for killing a young woman in her twenties...WHY??? he could have gone to almost any street corner in America, and found a woman for sex for absolutely free. It terrifies me for my own daughter, and makes me wonder about the lawsuit recently submitted about lethal injection being painful to the inmates. Did their victim feel no pain? Did their family feel no pain? Why should we worry about the state that they are in as they pay for their crimes? Just one more opinion of mine, which are to be followed by hundreds. Now that I have this outlet, and people that may read, agree, or disagree with.. I feel a relief of great proportions, and a feeling that this may be the greatest thing I have ever done in my life.. always feel free to add to my rambling, because I will always feel compelled to add more, hear more and learn more from every one of you. Till tomorrow... Cotton

Monday, January 7, 2008

Let me know what you think

I am ALL excited about my new blog.. believe me, I have TONS of crap, stories, and situations to share with you.

I'm in the Weeds !!

Well, here we go. I Have been a server for 28 years.... ever since I got out of college... getting my PHD in BS , and putting it right to it's best use...waiting on the public sector. My stories are varied, sometimes unbelievable, and mostly humorous and relating to every person that has ever eaten out. I remember the first job that I DIDN'T get fired from, a Pizza joint, (the owner's were from Syracuse) ... we had the distinction of having the only place in town that sold pizza by the slice. We were right by the highway entrance, about 8 miles from downtown Atlanta. An older black man came in , and said "gimme a couple of slices of pizza to go " ... my response was " What's the magic word? " And to my utter amusement, he looked at me and replied inquisitively... "TWO?" There begins my career of having the most amazing job of the study of people, their ups and downs, and the demands that they make on the working class. I worked for the Pizza shop for 15 years, then moved on to a Steakhouse.. Lhorn Steakhouse..I get SO tired of people calling it LHORNS ... it is kinda like saying you are going to Krogers.. How many Kroger stores are you going to ? " I'm In the weeds" will be recognized by ANYONE in the service industry. It is a phrase that means you are so behind, so busy, and so befuddled that you feel like you are marching through a ten foot patch of weeds that you will never be able to come out of alive. Five minutes seems like an hour, and people get SO pissed off at you about a steak not cooked are they going to react when a doctor tells them they have Colon cancer? Is a steak really THAT big of a deal ? We had a promotion one month for two types of shrimp appetizers.. one fried, one broiled.. I tried to sell them both to my customers, and the husband finally said to just surprise him... so I replied " I am pregnant with your baby!!" He agreed that I did indeed surprise him. We have what we in the industry call "secret shoppers" the company sends people to eat in our restaurant... they rate, judge and tell the corporate office all about their visit. The first time I got shopped... I remembered it when the report came in , because the customer's cup of chili was not hot ( the steam table that keeps it hot had run dry) , so I replied to him.. "that's why we call it chilly" They obviously liked me because I did not get fired... at least not yet. I have about a million more stories to share with you, so let me know if you are interested. It is a hard world to work in, relating to the public, and my sympathies go out to every person that has to put up with the petty and sometimes ridiculous attitudes of the public. But there again, are my regulars, people that come in to wait for my table to be open, and compensate me beyond my wildest dreams.. people that enjoy my banter, my quick wit, and my dedication to superb service. Let me know about YOUR tales of success or woe. Believe me folks, I am just getting started.