Thursday, February 28, 2008


We have several people at my store that are going to school to be teachers... GOD BLESS THEM!! I worked for our county school system for seven years; And I am here to tell ya. "It ain't an easy job." When we first moved to our current home 11 years ago, they were redistricting the schools at LEAST once a year. I decided to get a job with the best elementary school near our house (which crazily enough we were NOT allowed to attend.) It was unbelievable, we had two really good elementary schools closest to our house, yet we were assigned to travel over twice the distance to a school that had terrible test scores and a racially and economically unbalanced student population. So ole MAMA bit the dust and took the only job at the school that was open... a "lunch lady." I can tell you, until you have scrubbed pizza pans for 800 students, you just haven't lived. I will admit the kids loved me. When coming through the line, they always declined the butter beans, english peas and limas, until I started telling them that we had hidden prizes in some of the beans! Baby, those beans started FLYING out of my serving line! On Halloween, I wore my "BUBBA" teeth, and those were an even bigger hit. It used to kill me when the older women would refuse to give out an extra packet of ketchup to the kids... they only got one... and when you are having hamburgers, and french fries... one pack of 1/2 ounce ketchup just won't get you through a meal. Anyway, isn't it their parents tax money not only buying those tiny packs of ketchup... but paying all of our salaries as well? I was notorious for slipping all the kids extra ketchup, mustard, mayo, honey mustard.... if they had to eat the slop, let them be able to cover it with sauce. I will have to say that we did a pretty darn good job at our school of putting out a decent meal... but HEY... it's still a school cafeteria. I worked with all women who were at LEAST in their sixties... sweet women, country women, but sometimes they drove me nuts. Like when the first group came through, and one of them, seeing the kids lining up in the hall, would say " Here comes the kennygarden class!!" I just couldn't bring myself to tell them that you did not pronounce it that way. After four years of giving out WAY too many french fries, mashed potatoes and ketchup packets; not to mention that I ALWAYS gave them at least four more Tater Tots than I was supposed to; I left the sweet old girls to go back to their previous ways, and got a job as an assistant coordinator for the Afterschool Program. At least I wasn't mopping floors and scrubbing pans anymore; anyway I was doing enough of that at home. I worked for a girl probably eighteen years younger than me...straight by the book kind of gal, that I drove nuts with my crazy, anti establishment, renegade way of doing things. But the kids were happy, and they loved me. The kids were the easy part... the parents were a whole different bag of tricks. Some of these kids had it SO much better at school than they had it at home, that it really broke my heart. One little girl who was so pitifully treated by her Mom, came in after Christmas holidays, and my co worker and I asked her how her Christmas was, "What did Santa bring you?" She said, well he left me five dollars and a candy bar. This little girl's mother came in every day with her acrylic nails done to perfection, dressed a LOT nicer than her daughter, and by her size, was eating pretty good too. It absolutely broke my heart. I went through my own daughter's closest, brought in a winter coat, pants, shirts, socks, shoes... and just told the Mom that they didn't fit my little girl anymore. As hard to believe, there were even worse cases, but we tried to help every kid that we could, and at least on OUR time, make sure they were loved and cared about. Then County "RED TAPE" starting really ticking me off... they dogged us at every turn, wanting to cover themselves "legally".. What a crock. I couldn't trim a kid's nails that his sorry parents hadn't clipped or cleaned in MONTHS... I may harm him. We couldn't let the kids collect pennies for the tsunami victims when it happened.. the county had a fit... but we did it anyway, and collected over $250.00 in pennies, and donated it to the Red Cross. ACTUALLY, we didn't ask the county (Our Bad) but when the picture came out in the local paper with the Red Cross volunteer standing with all of our kids, with the pennies all rolled and on display in front of the students.. the county said we shouldn't have done it.... WHY? Were we wrong in impressing upon these kids how lucky we were to be in this great Country, and not be in a region where hundreds of thousands of people had lost their lives, parents, children, homes and any sense of the existence they had had before the tragedy struck? It just rubbed me the wrong way.. ( RUB # ONE). Then when the war started.. I stepped up the ante. A server from my restaurant ( that I still worked at all weekend long, after working at the school all week) got called back into active duty from the reserves, and was shipped out in six short weeks.I decided to let the kids pen pal with this dear friend of mine. I asked EVERY parent's permission before I let the kids write to him, and the letters were totally OUTSTANDING! I still have copies of every letter they wrote. They were from Pre K students ( usually pictures) up to fifth graders . Some were astoundingly profound, several of these kids had a parent in the War as well. He sent letters back to the kids, addressed in an envelope to me personally, sent CD's with pictures from the war... he rode the turret in a Humvee. The letters he wrote were sweet, always addressed their questions, and answered each one of them. We sent him a care package.. another one of my obviously "Terrible" decisions that I took upon myself to make. I just started with packs of gum, mints or AA batteries. The kids went ballistic...DVD's, spices, sunscreen, bug repellent, socks, cookies, candies, playing cards, poker sets, popcorn, every size battery that you could use... The package weighed 70 pounds. The fifth graders had a bake sale to pay for shipping costs..... and we were own our way to a happy thing done for all too deserving men and women 1/2 way across the planet. I kicked in boxes of tampons for the women in his unit, and a couple of cartons of cigs that the kids didn't know about.... If I was in Iraq, I would probably want a smoke too. Oh YEAH... once again BIG BROTHER was watching... They said I couldn't let the kids write a soldier.. what if he sent them pictures of himself in his underwear? They were talking about a dear friend of mine, that had written these kids for MONTHS VIA me..not addressed to them specifically. Of course I never told my soldier friend about any of this... too embarrassed about how our county worried SO much about the "Legal Ramifications" of writing a grown man that they did not know. But you know what? These kids ALREADY knew him by this point, and ALREADY knew what kind of guy he was. He was their HERO, he was their FRIEND. They were just little kids making a huge difference in not only his life, but theirs as well. We had sent several board games... MONOPOLY, CHESS, CHECKERS, BACKGAMMON... you know what the soldiers did with them? They took them to an orphanage and donated them to those kids in Iraq. Of course after the "RED TAPE LEGAL ARM" came down on me, I wanted to resign immediately. But I love the woman I worked for, and she needed her job, so I bit the bullet and stayed till the end of the year. When my soldier friend finally came home from Iraq, I had been gone from the county almost a year... but he wanted to go meet the kids. I took him to lunch ( not the school cafeteria.... I had heard they were out of ketchup). When we got to the school, my old boss was there, pumping my friend's hand and telling him how proud he was... which I am sure that he was; but why put up such a stupid stink about such a humanitarian effort from a bunch of kids, that now thanks to us.. know an incredible person that has possibly helped save all of us? I could battle the county system no longer. I did my best; I made a difference in over a hundred kids lives, and an entire unit in Iraq. They beat me down at every turn, and threw every roadblock up that they could. The county would never hire me again (not that I would apply) but while I was there... Baby I was shaking it up, and getting some stuff done... and all that matters to me is that the kids were happy, cared about, AND cared for. Then after I quit the county...( I don't know who was more relieved; me or them ). I went back to my full time job in sales and marketing. My middle son is now in high school, and my youngest daughter in the new middle school. She is twelve, and just a couple of weeks ago, I was leaving to go to work about ten in the morning when I received a text from her on my cell phone. She was in the restroom at school, and had just started her very first menstrual cycle. She was so upset, had nothing with her and was scared to even come out of the restroom. I told her I was on the way. When I reached the school to check her out, the secretary asked me why I was checking her out, so I told her. She asked me how I knew, and I told her. She immediately said she had to write her up for using her phone at school, because the principal(a male) had to be informed. It was just us two mothers... she and I alone in the office. I said to her could she please just let it slide. Of course the answer was 'NO", and by this time my daughter had reached the office. Forms were filled out, copied, xeroxed, stamped, and signed by all three of us. My daughter was mortified that the male principal had to "be informed. " After fuming, I took my daughter home and read the notice I had to sign... It stated any student "observed" using a cell phone, except for health reasons of other stated reasons that were in the code the county had adopted, would be written up. For PETE'S SAKE!! Did they not consider this a "health" issue... not to mention she had NOT been observed? I tried in vain to fight yet another battle with the county, to no avail . I think the whole situation was ridiculous on their part, and I told my daughter right in front of the secretary.. "you did NOTHING wrong, and you had EVERY right to call your mother... you did the right thing.... now sign this paper and let's go home. " Good luck you future teachers.. the county, the state and the federal government is going to throw every possible obstacle, form to fill out, and hoop to jump through, just for you to help our kids in the way that you want ; and they way that they desperately need. Kudos to you are better than me... but truly and sincerely appreciated by me. ROCK ON TEACHERS!!! (especially you CHILI, you will be awesome... The county you will work for just doesn't know what they have coming their way.... KICK EM into shape once for me !) till next time...COTTON

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Adios Mi Amigo

Tonight was a bummer at work. My good friend Lewis has been transfered to another store, and won't be part of our team anymore. Hopefully it is only a temporary change... but in our business "Who knows?" I have thoroughly enjoyed working with this manager, and although I love all my managers... we will miss Luis greatly. Not only for the fact that he is always concocting delicious new desserts for us to share, but for the simple fact that he has quickly become my friend, and I think very highly of him. I wish I had known tonight was his last shift with us... I would have loved to do something special for him. But instead, he will get this weak attempt of mine to tell him how much I have enjoyed working with and beside him, learning about him and his wife, and his life in general. He will be missed by many; and I know this for a fact. It was a topic on all of our minds tonight, and still on mine as I sit here and type. I know that to grow and move up in a company, you have to be willing to be flexible... I just hate when the flexibility takes away not only a good boss, but a friend as well. You had better come visit us, and maybe my family and I will come visit you in your new store. Know that we love you and will miss you. Thanks for being such a great addition to our store and to our lives. Te Amos ( I think that's right.... see, I already need you!) Your friend, Senora Algodon ... PS ... Now I'll never know when the Latino cooks are making fun of me.... so come back soon !!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Andre The Giant... "Doofus"

Here comes another one.. the people that I work with are JUST too good of material not to use for my blog. Hopefully this will all lead to my career as a stand up comedienne or a book of essays about my life. Andre IS a giant... at about six foot four , to me he is a giant; and no matter what my height is ... he will always be a doofus to me. My spell check just flagged the word DOOFUS, but if you knew Dre, you would know that spell check was wrong. He started as a server in our restaurant, moved up to a bartender... which in our store is like working in another realm altogether. It is an entire different entity from the rest of the store. Of course with it being a bar, there are people on their phones to their bookies, while watching the games on the wide screen above their tottering heads. The bartenders are probably calculating their own losses, while licking the wounds of the losers with another shot of booze... Thus is the life of a bartender. My Giant is a man that I have always loved and respected.... even though he can be as slow as Granny Smith to get me a drink for my table. He is the ONLY person that the phrase DOOFUS has been been appreciated and laughed at. My husband becomes furious when I call him that... it may be too close to home, or it might just be one of the many things that I do that ticks him off. ... Although I am off only one day a week, on the Tuesday that I come back in to start my work week again... Dre always says... "What did you bring us today?" I always cook for my family on Monday nights, and my co-workers are foaming at the mouth for my leftovers, which I always bring them. I could come in and say " it was rutabagas and Liver" ; and Dre would say "Let's give it a try!" He does so much for our company from service at the bar to contractor skills behind the scenes. He is married to a woman that I admire completely... mainly because She wears his butt out!! But what amazes me even more is that he is SO in love with her... he would probably walk over hot coals for her(maybe he already has). She is cute as a button, and as hot as a firecracker.Our once life long bachelor (and doofus) has been transformed in a husband, father, and provider in one big swoop. He is constantly smiling, always upbeat and willing to lend a hand. He's just such a big, goofy lovable guy, that I am surprised he managed to stay single for as long as he did. As with many other workers at our store, he has recently gone back to school ( I guess he wants to finally dispel the "Doofus" label.) But he will always be my cute, big ole Doofus.... it is one of his most endearing qualities, and one of the many reasons he is just so easy to like and hard to get mad at! He will be missed when he leaves; but will probably come back to visit every Tuesday morning with a fork in his hand... looking for another left over hand out!

Monday, February 25, 2008

The "Dean" Of Our Culinary Arts Department

We have a cook at work; that is probably hands down, the nicest guy that I have ever had the good fortune of meeting. He is absolutely the most mild mannered, laid back UN-rattled cook that I have ever met; in a profession that seems to thrive on giving out headaches, heart palpitations and high blood pressure like candy. I have known him for almost ten years, and can honestly say that I have never ONCE seen him lose his cool. You can ask any favor of him for the guest's dinner, or even a request for something not on the menu for your employee meal... and always receive the answer that you are looking for... "Yeah, I think I can do that." He gives "meek" a whole new meaning.. and it totally amazes me... How can he work in this high pressure, always demanding job and make it look like a walk in the park? He is a consummate professional, on time, ready to work, ready to always go the extra mile. It is truly a pleasure to work with him, and it always makes my day to see him back in the kitchen. He is married to a terrific woman, and they have an absolute "Doll" of a daughter. They all came over to our house on Christmas Day, and it was such a treat to not only have my immediate family, but part of my restaurant family with me as well. He is never in a bad mood, never complains... just does his job to the best of his ability... a tremendous ability, which in my opinion he is WAY under paid for. But you know what? He has a wife and child to support.. and like me, he knows that if you give your best performance while doing your job, the managers will ALWAYS have your back, and treat you with respect. In today's economical times, you have to be grateful that you HAVE a job to support your family with... and his family is most certainly blessed to have this wonderful man to call their own. If anybody I know could hit the lottery, I would want it to be him. Of course he is too frugal, conscientious, and dedicated to his family to ever waste money on a lottery ticket... maybe I will start buying him one every week! He is not only a co worker, but an amazing , pleasant, incredible person to have as a friend. We are lucky to have him in our company as an employee, and even luckier that he is such a terrific guy to have as a friend.... And HEY... his English is impeccable !! I love my Latino cooks too.. actually I love most all of them... from Captain Cunningham to General Norman of the day shift. But I can always write about them too, and most probably will. But this one is for my "Dean" . I just want everyone that bothers to read this blog to know what an incredible person he is, and how lucky I feel to just call him my friend ( not to mention he makes the best shrimp and chicken chimichanga ever made by a Gringo!) I hope everyone I know is lucky enough to have at least one person like my "Dean" in their life as well. Isn't it great to have wonderful people let you be a part of their life? It just makes life so much sweeter and enjoyable , when you are compensated with being surrounded by care, love and friendship in even your workplace environment. If he'd JUST shut up every once in a while.... TOTALLY kidding... his nickname could be "Silent Sam"..... of course working with 30 women, he doesn't have much time for input .. just an occasional nod of the head, and a mental reminder to himself that at least the company won't let him go in to overtime. Forty hours with us, and he gets a 24 hour reprieve. Till next time... COTTON

Saturday, February 23, 2008

"Scotty...Beam me up!"

One of the most important and influential people that I have ever met in my life, is my BIG boss.. Let's call him "Scott." He is probably the most important person that I have ever known in a workplace environment. He is an absolute mentor to me , and an addition to the store that I work for. He is probably the most attuned, consistent, professional boss that I have ever had the honor to work for. He is almost as obsessive as me in regards to the store that he tries to run on a daily basis. His label system, his notes on the wall, and his constant verbal direction; often and frequently fall on deaf ears... I am assuming that a lot of twenty year olds have severe hearing problems. To be an 48 year old woman in a store full of twenty year olds, is one thing.... to try to make them do their job is another. But my boss never waivers, or gives up. He is constantly at the helm, trying his best to influence a bunch of bratty kids that we CAN make a difference, CAN make a profit by being the BEST that we can be. Unfortunately only the Old farts listen or care... But isn't that what is wrong with the entire Nation as a whole? Where is the concern.. where is the conscience... where is the commitment? I know that I am just a server, just an employee, but when have American's forgotten to appreciate the fact that they are living in the greatest Nation in the world, and could always be super-sizing it at a drive through window? All my co- workers... (at least the slack ones) think that he is way too strict... but that is where they differ with me. He is an amazing man of integrity, and a man that actually WANTS to make a difference. Granted he has a small and limited number of employees that feel the same way... But it only takes a spark to ignite a fire... and as long as he has me as the lighter fluid... baby... it is going to be a bonfire. I take my hat off to him , my other managers, and the people that CARE. It truly is a DOG eat DOG world, and if you don't take care of the person that fills your food bowl.. you will surely go hungry.. and the collapse of the whole food chain will certainly NOT work to your advantage. I am so grateful that I have the boss and the managers that I work for... We are all working for the same goal... consistency, value and the greatest output of service that can ever be expected from anyone walking through our doors. "Thanks Scotty" I couldn't love or respect you more Till Later COTTON

Friday, February 22, 2008

"Oh KAY"... here it comes!

As long as I am telling you about my co-workers... let's not leave out a friend that we will just call "Kay." Thank the Lord , she is my saving salvation at work, being just a little older than me. They already probably call me" Maw Maw" at work... but we just call her" A little GOOFY". I can guarantee that when she was younger.. she was a platinum blond. One of the sweetest, dog loving people that I have ever met (and as you know if you read my posts, I am a true dog lover.) She raises and shows Cavaliers.... a fancy smancy type dog that would never make it in MY dog eat dog world... but to her, they are her kids. They even have "kid's"names. I remember when I first started at my restaurant, she had four dogs; Geoffery, , Spencer, Ellie and Gillian. This just sounds like four kids in a Danielle Steele novel to me; but to her, it was her itty, bitty kiddies, and the focus of her life. For the life of me , I don't know how she does it... she is so meek and mild mannered ( A Lot UNLIKE me), that I can imagine her coming home from work to find them all at a poker table, smoking cigars and watching another female Cavalier strip for the boys, who probably already have a bit of a kennel cough from the Cuban cigars a fellow Cavalier brought back from a dog show in Havana. But the most fun I have with her is at work.. and I must admit she is a great sport to take all of my sarcastic humor the way it is intended.. with a lot of love and affection. She is so mild and soft spoken that she is just such an easy target for me.. so I guess in a way it is HER fault. She is on a schedule of her own... not like me who is flying through life(albeit too fast for my own good), but she is more of an "easing through life person", constantly stopping to smell the daisies, and pick up her dog poop on walks.... Her dogs are her world, and probably the luckiest dogs on the face of the Earth. We kid her sometimes at work when she gets flustered... "Come on, pick a direction and GO with it!" and she takes the kidding amazing well... especially considering my sharp , amazingly witty sense of humor( Kudos to myself) . She has many, many talents beyond giving me material for my blog. She is a culinary genius with , I believe a degree in "pastries" ... I guess the dogs went on a cruise, that left her with time to fill. But I always enjoy poking fun at her... HEY.. I am right behind her in age, and I gotta get my punches in while I can. She is wonderful to my kids and me as well, and I have come to love this wacky woman... begun to realize that she is an odd one... ( hence the dog fixation) I could never imagine taking my mutts to a cardiologist, but hers have probably been to one more than she has! Unfortunately she reads this blog, so let's hope she still loves me tomorrow. But you know what? She has never had children of her own; and these dogs are her life, her heart and her devotion. And being a dog lover myself... there are a LOT worse things to be. I hope if I ever get reincarnated , it will be as a pup on her doorstep, and I will be the one that will deal the poker cards out while "MOMMA" is at work, and call all the other mutts over for a visit ... You know what they say.. "While the Kat's away, the pup's will play" ... At least at her house. Till next time.... Cotton

Thursday, February 21, 2008

A Little "Byrd" Told Me...

One of the girls that I work with... we'll call her Byrd for this post... is one of the cutest and sweetest girls that I have the pleasure of calling my friend. She has recently re-enrolled in college to pursue a nursing career, after graduating from the "School Of Hard Knocks" with her ex- boyfriend. ( His loss TOTALLY) She is quiet, sweet....not TOO sweet, and has a heart of gold. She and I are the four o'clock servers that come in and have the whole restaurant to ourselves for about an hour. This is the time that you can really make some money, before the other ten servers get there; and not all the time, but usually we strike it rich. She likes to call me a" table hog".. to which I generally reply "HEY! I resemble that remark!!" I seem to work better when I have about six or seven tables going at once...My Automatic pilot takes over and it just comes naturally to me to be flying around the restaurant at warp speed, doing everything at once. One day she came up to gripe about how many tables I had going... why didn't SHE have that many tables? She went on complaining for a few seconds, when the manager on duty came to the kitchen window and said to the cooks.. " I need some Cheese Fries FLYING!" That means we have forgotten to order them, and need them as quickly as possible. My little Byrd, said " OH &#$@ !!" I forgot to ring those in for table 70 !!" I just laughed and laughed at my little Byrd, and just HAD to say.. THAT is why I have all the tables.... I'm just trying to help YOU out! Let me also say that I am old enough to be her mother, and have been doing this job since before she was born. But I love to pick on her... Like I tell all my co-workers... I only pick on the people that I like, and I like you A LOT!! She is one of my favorite people at work, she has that beautiful dark hair and bright blue eyes... and a body most all the guys would kill for the chance to just admire and dream about. She just doesn't have enough faith in herself, and for the life of me, I can't understand why?! But I can still remember being her age, and not understanding a boat load of things... men, relationships, self worth. But hey! I have my 4 o'clock shifts with her just so I can help shove her down the path of life in the right direction, whether she wants it or not. These kids that I work with are like my own kids in a whole lot of ways. I love them and care about how they are using or not using their potential, and making or not making the right decisions. I don't mind one bit being bossy with the ones that I care about. I have been on this Earth longer than most of their own parents, and just want to help them avoid a few of the mistakes that I made, and help them get to their goal a little quicker. I know she is heartbroken about her recent breakup with the "BOOB" she was dating; if I could only make her realize that years and years from now, he will be such a little , tiny "BLIP" in her memory.... and she will be the biggest regret he ever had, breaking up with her. I remember being young, and thinking that you just CAN'T go own without 'HIM". But you know what? He probably can't go own without YOU, but now he will have to, and you will evolve into the wonderful, caring , smart, savvy person that every guy you meet will fight for the chance of dating and winning your heart. HEY little Byrd, listen to this OLE CROW.... I truly DO know what I am squawking about !! But remember.... I GET MORE TABLES THAN YOU...... "AGE BEFORE BOOTY" is my motto, and I am sticking to it. Love ya my sweet little byrd, you will be happy again before you know it... especially if I or my oldest son has anything to do with it! ( He ain't stupid either.... well maybe a little... but at least he knows a pretty gal ! ) PS.."OH-Kay".. you are coming up in the rotation.... (just a little shout out to more of my friends!)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

"Training" Wheels

Currently I am the trainer at our restaurant for all newly hired servers. Some make it, some do not. When I started at this store ten years ago; I had been a server for 20 years, and thought that I had the job down pretty well. BOY was I wrong. It was the hardest job I had ever begun, and I spent the first six months just expecting to be fired at any given moment. It all came together after about ten months, and I started to feel a little better about my staying power. None of the people that I went through training with are even with us anymore. I know that people (some people) think of serving as a low class, demeaning job; but as I have previously stated... it is ALL sales and marketing. Some of the people that I train, listen to what I tell and teach them.. and end up as great assets to our company. Others... not so much! I remember when I worked for my previous restaurant... an Italian Pizzaria, I was a manager, and also trained new hires. I was training a young girl one night, when she came up to me and asked "Where can I find one of those silver drink trays?" I asked her very nicely, "Do you mean a pizza pan?" Needless to say ... she made it about two days, and said it was just too much work. Granted it WAS a lot of work. We made our own dough, grated our mozzarella, made our pizza sauce, lasagna, meatballs, marinara and calzones from scratch. That seems to be one of the main issues with training young kids.... "DANG, Am I really gonna have to work hard?" Granted, now I work in a town where almost every kid seems to have been born with a silver spoon in their mouth; and a new BMW in their driveway on their sixteenth birthday. I , for some stupid reason enjoy training people ( probably because I am so good at being bossy). Another reason is that I truly LOVE what I do. I make people enjoy and desire to come back to our store over and over again... and sometimes ask for me specifically. I went to college... thought about becoming a teacher... worked for the school system in our county for seven years, and naturally gravitated back to what I love the most. It is actually an amazing job if you do it right and are dedicated to your craft. It is all in the suggestive selling... offer everyone everything you have to offer, and it is incredible what you can sell.. "Oh yeah, I WOULD like some mushrooms with that steak!" Had I never offered them , they would have never bought them. Sometimes I wish we had cars or houses on our menu, because, BABY, I could sell it to some of them ! I was extremely fortunate to have a couple of the best servers we have train me, and I payed attention...and it payed off. I feel bad sometime when servers that I train don't make it, but it is totally up to them to make it or not. Although we are "just" servers... it is a job ( In my case a career) and as with any job, you have to take your responsibilities and duties seriously, or your customers are going to notice, and tip you according to your performance. My sister is a flight attendant... so basically we are in the same profession, except that she is locked in a plane at 30,000 feet with her customers, and they are paying a heck of a lot more for their meal, which happens to be a lot less satisfying than ours, and unable to be re-cooked. We often swap stories about our adventures and mis-adventures pertaining to our jobs.... (ones we both love and are pretty darn good at) . We have bounced around the idea of coming up with our own company ... just to train people the right and correct be cost productive, efficient and environmentally correct. I think it is a good idea, and so does she... but till we get our bills caught up, and our kids out of our hair and bank accounts... we are stuck in our jobs... trying to train others to care like we care... and watching them fall to the wayside when they don't. Like I tell my sister and others when they complain about work... "You could always be Super Sizing it at the drive through window." I know that I am not a rocket scientist, or someone finding the cure for AIDS or the cure for the Republican party. I feel that I am doing the best job that I can , and making a difference to people that I meet, make happy and have asked for me, or waited for my table to come available; and enjoy the experience of me waiting on them and making their visit to our restaurant a good and memorable experience... one they want to come back and have again... Hopefully with me. Till Later... COTTON

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Time marches On... Whether We Like It Or Not

One of my best friends at work has a son who is a sophomore in college. His girlfriend is eighteen, they met at the church he was interning for as a youth minster assistant over the summer. This girl's mother was in the end stages of cancer at the age of 54. She died last week... The funeral was today. I can TOTALLY empathize with this young girl and her current situation. Mine varies a little; my mother was completely healthy as far as we knew. My sister and I were out shopping for clothes with my mom, when she suddenly clutched a rack of clothes, looked totally confused, and fell to her immediate death right in front of her daughters. My sister was in her early twenties, I was seventeen. It was a time when I hate to admit it, but I was sometimes embarrassed by my mom. I used to make her let me out of the car a block away from the high school, and just generally thought she was an idiot. Let me point out that she was the greatest woman I have ever met, and I was truly and completely blessed to have her for a mother. But sometimes when you are seventeen... the world just isn't spinning right, things don't make sense; and you are the only person in the world that matters. I can remember my mom telling me that the older I got, the smarter she would seem. Of course I probably just laughed at her behind her back, jumped into a car with my cheer leading buddies, and went off to live my carefree life for a few hours. But as I have grown older, it seems to me almost prophetic... her words.... she was SOOOO right. Everything she tried to tell me, everything she tried to make me do, was EXACTLY and totally what I needed... I just didn't want to listen. I remember a couple of days before she died, I was at West Ga. College at cheer leading camp with my cronies. The news came over the radio that Elvis Presley had just died. I don't know how old my reader's of this blog are... but that was a REALLY big deal. How could the King of Rock N Roll be dead? At the invincible age of seventeen, death just wasn't in my vocabulary. I was shocked and shaken. I went into a phone booth to call my mother.... something I would have NEVER normally have done. I reached her, told her that I had just heard the news about Elvis. I wasn't that big a fan of his, but I knew people that were, and for him to be GONE... was unreal to my seventeen year old mind. It was the first brush with death that I had ever had, and it hit me in the chest like a freight train. I suddenly realized that no one was exempt from the fate of death, and it truly and deeply scared me. I slumped to the floor of the phone booth, and sobbed to my mother. I told her I was so sorry I had been such a bitch to her, so disrespectful to her and unappreciative of her. I cried like a baby, and told her countless times how much I really loved her. And you know what? She acted like it was nothing. She told me not to worry... She said she had ALWAYS known that I loved her, no matter how I acted , she KNEW how much she meant to me, and she felt the same way about me. She said not to worry about anything... "Know that I love you too, and will pick you up from camp tomorrow, and you, your sister and I will go shopping." I felt so relieved to have gotten all my "Brat"itude out in the open and tell this wonderful woman that I had treated so badly over the past year, that I truly DID love her... and you know what? I got absolutely no attitude from her or condemnation, just an "I LOVE YOU TOO " The next day, she picked me up from camp, and for once in a great long while, it felt almost exhilarating to see my MOM drive up. She acted as if the whole crying jag in the phone booth had never happened, and was just her same jovial self. We rode back to the outskirts of Atlanta, nothing mentioned of my emotional break down ( much to my seventeen year old relief) . The next day, my mom, my sister and I went shopping for school clothes... my senior year started in one week. It was a fun trip, I felt at peace, I was on top of the world. I was in the changing room, needing another size jeans that my mom was getting, when my sister called to me to come out. I went out to see a completely glazed look on my mother's face... she reached for a rack of clothes, pulling it over and collapsing on the floor. She opened her eyes once and looked at me.... It is a look that I will never forget, and sometimes hate to remember. The clerk called 911, my sister immediately started CPR. But you know what? Our mom was gone in an instant... I knew it at seventeen, my sister knew it in her early twenties.. we ALL knew it at that exact, precise moment in time; moment in our life, and now in our memory. My dad was called second after the ambulance... but she never opened her eyes again, never spoke again, and like a flash of lightning ... she was GONE. My sister and I followed my dad who rode in the ambulance with my mom , in Friday rush hour traffic in downtown Atlanta. We met at Grady Hospital... When we got there, my dad was sitting in a small room , all by himself; calling friends to go pick my brother up from his grocery store job, and bring him home. But you know what? It was hard pressed to be called home anymore. It was the beginning of twenty years of getting over my mother's death. But had I not had that emotional, bonding, forgiving phone call with her; I sincerely don't know if I could have lived through, and come out of the experience of her death, with any type of emotional well being. She KNEW that I loved her, she knew it and felt it; I was the one in denial. But that is the most wonderful and amazing things about parents... I have since learned this through my own parenting experience. We know how we have raised you, taught you and instilled values in you. You may act like you hate us, treat us like we are the enemy but WE KNOW!! As my wonderful, fabulous mother once told me... "The older YOU get, the smarter WE will seem!" And Thank the Good Lord above... every word of her comment was true, and has made me not only love her for being my mother, but for making me the mother that I am to my own kids today.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Almost Half A Century Down The Road Of Life

Even the title of this blog terrifies me. It just can't be right! Am I really 48 years old? Where in the heck did the last almost fifty years go? Am I in a time warp? Did someone change the way we measure time? All these questions seem valid to me, and yet no one can give me the answer that I want and need to hear... "NO, you are MOST certainly not 48 years old.... somebody has been using the wrong calendar, and we are SOOO glad that you caught the mistake!" Granted, I weigh the exact same weight as I did in high school ( Thank the Lord frown lines and wrinkles don't weigh much). I guess the fact that I have been a server for 30 years should tip me off to the fact that I am speeding down life's highway like I was on the Autobahn in a high powered Mercedes. Well, somebody please point me to the nearest exit.... I WANT TO GET OFF!!! I really don't feel my age too often. I think working with twenty year olds six days a week, makes me feel like "one of the gang." They probably all laugh at me behind my back, and have some disgusting nickname for me like "ME-ME", or "MEE-MAW", and only use it when I have my day off! Granted I have some ailments that I constantly self-diagnose on the phone with my MUCH older sister at night; when we drink wine, chat on the phone, and I remind her of all the things she keeps forgetting ! Just kidding about that, she is an amazing 54 years young... looks better than me... she just can't remember squat sometimes.... that is why we always sit together at funerals.. so I can warn her who is walking up to speak to us, or remind her who just died.... Just kidding again... I love her dearly, and she is all the Mama I have left on this Earth. We will be talking at night, and I will mention "Ya know, my right thumb has been numb for about a year...what do you think it means?" To which she will reply, "Thank God you have that left thumb that is still fine...don't worry till they both go bad." I will say " You are EXACTLY right!" I have since diagnosed this as carpel tunnel from some of my more informed customers at work... they all had the same symptoms, so I have decided that is what my thumb problem is.. WHEW.. that was a relief, and I didn't even have to pay a Co-payment! My sister and I have pains in our neck and shoulders sometimes... another ailment we attribute to having kids that drive us crazy, and nothing to worry about! Two problems solved, about forty more to go! When you are a woman and a mother... especially a working mother, you just tend to forget about taking care of yourself, and just worry about getting through the work week, school year with the kids, or Holidays with the crazy relatives. Actually, I don't know how I have made it this far. I didn't go the the gynecologist for over ten years, till my sister threatened to take me herself. I made an appointment with a female Doc that I had heard was good, and marched my little 105 lb. frame right into her office like I had been going to her all my life. I was trying not to act nervous or scared... wondering what in the heck I had probably been self- diagnosing for ten years that had already eaten up half my brain or abdomen. The nurse came in, took vitals and blood work, told me to undress and wait for the doctor. I followed instructions, and awaited the "Doctor of Death" to come in and tell me that I was dying or had six weeks to live. She came in, a cheerful woman ( I figured that was her guise...fake me out). I had on my fancy little paper gown... scooted up to the edge of the table, and prepared myself for the worst. The nurse was beside the doctor, ready to assist. The doctor lifted my cute little paper number... stopped, looked up at me, and said " Mrs. Cotton, you still have your underwear on." I had totally forgotten to take them off, so I cracked my best quip... "well, it's been so long since I have been to a doctor, I thought by now you'd have some fancy dancy exray goggles you might wear, or some sterilized tongs that you could use just to move my panties to the side for a peek!" The nurse beside the doctor had to leave the exam room, laughing so hard that I could hear her in the hall . Fortunately everything was fine... except my total humiliation at having to walk out of that room knowing that every person in that office had probably already heard about my little "faux pas ". Needless to say, I am looking for a new doctor.... Hey! I have ten more years to look for one! Actually, I sucked it up and continued to go to this doctor, and needless to add... they remember me when I walk in the door. Even though the fifty year mark is speeding towards me like a tomahawk missile, I feel pretty blessed to still be as healthy as I am, in total control of all my faculties, and somehow making it to work six days a week, loving and enjoying my kids, and having the greatest husband a nutty person like me could ever hope for. Believe me you.. when fifty REALLY gets here... it is gonna be a party to remember... at least I hope I can. Till next time, COTTON

Sunday, February 17, 2008

My Own Sigfreid and Roy

As I have mentioned before, I have three dogs. We are a big dog family...we LOVE our dogs! We originally started with Rosie...our female Boxer. She was joined after a few years by Ham, her male nephew. He is a stud of a dog...massive legs and paws, but a true "gentle" giant. They get along great together, and are better than any security system we could ever have installed. Recently my oldest son moved back home... bringing with him his English Bulldog "Charlie." There isn't a brain between all three, but they make us happy, and they are "Livin Large" at the Cotton's house. They follow me every step I take in the house, and are never far from me. Charlie and Ham are both still pups...only a little over a year old. Rosie is the oldest at seven, and pretty much just keeps to herself, wondering what she did wrong to have these two "Hellions" added to her previously quiet life. The males are a hoot. They play constantly, and are never, NEVER still. I call them my two little gay boys... they lick each other's faces and ears, and frolic about in the yard all day long. They had a few fights at first, before Charlie finally realized that Ham could probably kill him if he wanted to. Since Rosie has been spayed... I guess the two males decided since they don't smell the scent of a female.. they would just take turns trying to mount each other. ( I hope John McCain dosen't read my blog.) It's ridiculous, but at least they take turns... with Rosie quietly sitting off to the side looking at them like they are total idiots (she isn't far off the mark with that one!) My husband and I have come to call them our "Sigfreid and Roy"... prancing all around the back yard, taking turns trying to be the "man" . Of course they don't have a clue as to us watching and laughing at them; but they probably wouldn't care... any attention that they get from us is welcome... and they really are the greatest dogs in the world. I have a king size bed, and every morning the minute my husband leaves for work, they jump right up on the bed with me, and settle in for a nice long snooze. The three of them snoring is like a symphony ( my fifteen year old says they snore louder than me.) We had to put a little step stool beside the bed for the Bulldog, his short stubby legs just can't make the hop up. He has to use it to get down as well. Any time they hear the garage door opener going off, they are off the bed like a shot to see who has come home. One day my daughter moved the step stool away from the bed for some reason while Charlie was asleep on the bed. I was at work, and my husband was in the bed watching TV with the three mutts beside him. When I pulled into the garage, my husband said the two Boxers leaped off the bed in a single bound, and headed downstairs to greet Mama. Charlie went to scramble down his step stool, which was missing, and landed nose first on the carpet with a big "ARFF"! Of course he recovered almost immediately and continued to hustle his way down to see where Mama was. They are almost like a comedy team... actually they ARE a comedy team to me. I love my dogs.. they are right up there with my kids. Dogs are the most loving, responding emotional support that a human can have.They ask for nothing but food, water and a pat on the head; and in return they give you every bit of themselves and a love that is hard to come by in humans, but a reflex and a natural response to them. My dogs are a blessing to us, three beating hearts that love us beyond belief, and are in return .. loved just as much. If you you don't have a dog... you need to think about getting one. Total devotion and love..who on this Earth can't use some of that ?

Saturday, February 16, 2008

My "OCD" " BFF"

One of the girls that I work with, a server with our restaurant since it opened.. is one of the most amazing, determined and goal oriented people that I have ever met. YES, she has a touch of the OCD... maybe more than a touch, but we'll let her slide on that one... for now ! She is two years older than me, which means we are both "OLE FARTS". Recently she has gone back to school. At first she was going for ex-ray technology... which turned out to be two years of core studies before she could start on th "X" ray part. My manager joked to her that by the time she received her degree, X-rays would be obsolete. Her new goal is to be an Esthetician... facials, skin abrasion treatments, and a lot of stuff that rich women want and can afford. (sounds like a perfect job for the town we work in ) She has been at our store since before Jesus was born... well maybe not that long, but it seems that way. The old women love her, the freaks, odd balls and cranky old men will wait for her to have a table open. Her regulars (the freaks) come in asking for her. I have told more than one that she is enrolled in school again, and only works Sundays now. Some of them ask what she is going to school for... and I wittily reply... "she decided to get that GED she always wanted." All the ole women say to me (very emphatically)...GOOD FOR HER !! I don't think any of them have a clue as to the humor that I am trying to use. They all just think that their favorite server is really going out on a limb, climbing the ladder... and reaching out to grab that golden egg... although I make it seem like she is reaching out the window of the "Short Bus" ... and all of us that went to public schools know what a "short" bus means. But so far, all of the regulars of hers that I have waited on, are so immensely proud of "Their Girl" ... that I feel like I just need to leave them to their illusions of grandeur about their favorite waitress. I guess I will have to throw her a graduation party with all her regulars piling up their walkers in a corner, and waiting to pat their girl on the head... telling her how proud they are of her achievement, and how proud they are of her finally receiving her GED... obviously a PHD in their minds. But you know what? She makes these wacky, weird, hard to wait on people happy... and is probably the best friend that any of them have left in this world. They come to our restaurant to see her; and ONLY her. They are loyal(although nutty loyals) that come in to see, visit and just relax with their favorite waitress, and in some instances, she is the only person in the world that they have to listen to them, understand and care about their gripes, concerns and complaints. To me, she is not only a friend... she is a saving salvation to these "odd" ducks... and probably the reason that they get out of bed each day, shuffle their way to our store.... just to see my "OCD" "BFF" , a woman that could probably run the Happiest Nursing Home in the world. I know that if I was 80, I would want to live in HER nursing home. She is one in a million ... and as always... I feel it a tremendous privilege to not only know her, but to call her my friend ( even if she IS short Bus material). God will surely Bless you Terri.. as you have not only blessed me, but many others as well. I love ya,....COTTON

Friday, February 15, 2008


We Have a new manager at my restaurant. A terrific guy that grew up in South America. His name is Luis. Young, good looking and totally dedicated to doing the best job he can. I remember the first day he came to the store.... I thought "why is the new cook wearing a tie?" Let me say here that we have many, many Hispanics working for us...most cooks, dishwashers or hosts. But this was our new manager! He is an on the ball guy, and a person that I now consider my friend as well as a boss. I am a trainer for our store, training all new servers that we hire. I was training a girl one day, when she asked me about something.. I don't remember what. She said, "Well, Lewis told me (whatever). I said to her "Who is Lewis"? She said she was talking about the manager. I said we didn't have a manager named Lewis. She said "you know, Lewis, the one that has an accent." I explained to her that his name was LUIS, not LEWIS. Of course now I constantly call him Lewis... and he calls me Senora Algodon ( algodon is the Spanish word for cotton) I love all of my managers (previous post covered this) and "Lewis" has been an excellent addition to our team, a great fresh face and a welcome new friend (amigo) of mine.

Monday, February 11, 2008

My Eclectic Coworkers

I work with the most varied group of people that I have ever had the opportunity to meet under one roof. Sometimes I wonder if the building is big enough for all of us(myself included.) From some of the crazier Latinos in the back, to the wacky hosts at the front door... we are definitely a unique, eclectic bunch. We have people there just putting themselves through school, people trying to just support their family, and some just trying to stay in the country! We have future nurses, lawyers, soldiers, singers (we've already covered that one), museum curators, Peace Corp workers, surveyors, hairstylists, dentists, musicians, contractors and maybe a few future felons. But when we are all in that building, we are just co-workers, people just scrambling as fast as they can to make a buck... granted some scramble faster than others, some are just trying to keep up, and a few are just trying hide the food that they are eating when they are supposed to be working. I love all these people... variety is the spice of life; so we are definitely one "HOT" tamale. We have our dog whisperer, who fields all the canine questions and concerns, our future lawyer giving us all advice "Pro Bono" and Plenty of free advice from our bar regulars that can contribute on a wide range of subjects. It is like living in a mini universe when you walk through our doors, almost like we are our own reality show. MTV has nothing on us, and if they knew about our store... the camera crew would be there tomorrow. We could even have our own version of The Bachelor or on some busy nights, it would more aptly be "Survivor." I must admit that working with mostly twenty-something year olds has kept me in the loop, and just maybe one step ahead of my fifteen year old son. If I did not have my job, I would have never discovered Snoop Dog's secret little language, the term "on the DL", or my personal favorite..."YEAH, come on!" It keeps me young working with this group, and at other times I feel that it is aging me as well. I could not imagine having to be a young person in 2008. The world is in turmoil, values and morals sometimes seem not to exist, or at least don't seem important. I pray that my own children can find their way down the right path of life, keep their conscience, and remember how they were raised. I pray for my co-workers as well... they are my extended family, and some weeks; I spend more time with them than I do my own three kids. We are a true collage of society...a random group thrown together trying to all have the same end result.. a buck in our pocket, and a smile on the guest's face.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

My Best Friend

My best friend in the whole world... besides my sister, who is not only a best friend, but a substitute mother; is my friend "Lisa" ... that is the name we will give her in this post. She trained me at my current job ten years ago, and continues to train me every day of my life. She inspires me, encourages me and pushes me through all the battles that I have , and will fight. She is the "head " waitress at the restaurant that I work for.... a fact that she recently reminded me of. She is sarcastic, dedicated, and the hardest working Mom, wife and server that I have ever been fortunate enough to meet and come to love, admire and respect. She is the reason that I started this blog. She came up with the idea... another reason that I love her. Although I am typically a Democrat... she is a Republican... staunch in her beliefs and religion. That seems to be the only differences that we have ... politics. But just like they say "opposites attract." She is a Christian before anything else, and that is one of the things that I love and admire about her. She loves her kids and husband.. who is the "hardest working man in non- show business." They have their oldest in college, and her husband, on top of working 40 plus hours a week at his job, runs a paper route to pay for their son's college. Of course , it was probably "Lisa's" idea.. but "HEY" it works for them. Granted he has about 3 hours of sleep a night, but it is putting their kid through school, and to them , that is all that matters. She never comes to work in a bad mood, never brings her "home " problems into the work place...She just comes in ready, prepared and willing to do the best job she can .... and ALWAYS succeeds. She is a total inspiration to me, a reason to keep going when the chips are down, a person to rely on when I need them most, or just need them to tell me when I am right or wrong. Sometimes I wonder how I made it to the age of 38 without having ever met her. But now I am just grateful that I have her in my life.... another life line that I can depend on, rely on and know will always be there. She is probably the most "perfect" person that I have ever met or known. Her one flaw may be offering fresh ground pepper on salads.. She knows it bugs me, and I think that maybe that is why she doesn't do it. I think for Christmas I will buy her a pepper mill, and instruct both of her kids to say "MOM, this recipe is so good, but it would be SO much better with fresh pepper"!! She is my saving salvation at work, the running force of the entire restaurant, and the most inspiring friend that I have ever met (sorry Teresa.... you need to work more to be included... but I love you just the same.) She is the one that came up with this whole BLOG idea, and it has been the greatest outlet, emotional comfort and enjoyment that I have had in years. She knows that writing is my true want and desire, and although it might not be award winning material, it is making ME happy.. and my friend.... "let's call her LISA" is the reason that I have started this blog, the reason that I come home from work at night, ready to sit down and type, and the reason that my life has become a lot more interesting to an ole 48 year old woman.. actually I won't be 48 till July... but I am just trying to get used to it. Thank you ...(We'll call you Lisa) .. AND PLEASE KNOW THAT YOU HAVE MADE A VERY SIGNIFICANT impact on my life, and possibly my future. You are absolutely one of the greatest things that has ever happened to me, and what you have done for me and my family ( besides the Ceramic gourd and rabbit) will never be forgotten or dismissed. Thank you for being my friend, thank you for loving me... and thank you for giving me this great gift of "my blog" I could care less if anyone reads it, but it feels GREAT to just get my thoughts out there..... and who knows, maybe some of you will find it interesting.... If you do, please post a comment. Till next time... COTTON

Thursday, February 7, 2008

My Little "Reese" of Heaven

Last year I had the most incredible and wonderful thing happen to me and my family. My own little piece of Heaven dropped into all of my family's lives's and heart's. A single mom that I work with needed a babysitter on Friday and Saturday nights.... which I immediately changed my work schedule to fit her into. It has been the greatest thing that has happened in my house, and we always eagerly await her visits. She was ten months old when we began to watch her... just a little tiny poot. She was small, petite, and absolutely precious. My eleven (at the time) year old daughter was to watch her on Friday and Saturday nights, from five till midnight....of course the baby went to bed at seven; and with the Mom being single, in college, working, AND being a friend of mine, we agreed on a pretty good price.... Of course the money was OUTRAGEOUS to my daughter, and I am sure she thought now she could buy that mink coat she had always wanted! My daughter was TOTALLY overwhelmed, having never had to watch an infant.. but absolutely LOVED this baby.. especially as long as I was there to tell her what to do. I will have to admit, Massey was interested in learning to care for a baby; but the minute things got hairy (baby crying).. I was called to come pick her up, or take over completely. But I have never in my life (and I have raised three kids) seen a more independent, intelligent, and satisfied baby. When we started watching her, she was at the wobbly, can't even walk, somebody get me a swing kind of age. It is a hard age.. they can't tell you what they want, can't toddle across a room to get their bottle.. it is up to us to know what they want and need. But by the grace of God, and a lot of help from her own Mama , she blossomed into the cutest kid I have ever met ( I won't let my kids read this post) . She could ALMOST go on "Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader" and win!! Maybe I am stretching that one, but she is amazing, and my whole entire family is smitten by her. Her Mom struggled at first (first time Mom syndrome) but has come to win me over completely as a Mom, and has my greatest respect. Of course, it's not hard when you have the cutest girl in the World to call your own. My little "piece" of Heaven has had some struggles, but I am sure that she will be okay. God could not look the other way in this case, and I am TOTALLY sure that all medical problems will be resolved, taken care of, and only be memories in her Mother's future. She is the light of my middle aged heart.. my kids grew up WAY too quickly, and now they are at the age that they too can love and welcome this angel into their hearts... it has brought a feeling of freshness, hope, and love back to all of us. My fifteen year old son.... who "HATES" kids.. is now the biggest flirt she has.. unless my 21 year old is home. Of course THAT battle is called to a halt when my husband comes home. I shouldn't harp on my husband too much, because as time has passed, she has wormed her little way into all of our lives, including my sister's, my niece's, my neighbor's and even my three big dogs.. they sleep right next to her play pen, and have NEVER once in a year, done anything but lick her to death, or battle for the closest position to her "pack N play" that she sleeps in at my house. She is a breath of fresh air to us "getting old" Cottons, and a reminder of what a true gift children are. Granted, she is the greatest kid on Earth... but on Friday and Saturday nights.... BABY she is a part of our wacky, crazy Cotton clan.... and we would never have it ANY other way. I have started a journal for her, so that once she leaves our care (which will happen soon... Mom is in love with a terrific guy).. she will have memories that she will never remember, but will be in our minds and hearts forever, and maybe one day when the grandparents aren't spoiling her rotten, and may want a break for a couple of hours; they will bring our little "Reese" of Heaven back for a visit, and a chance for us to spoil her all over again, and love her even more... If that is humanly possible. We all watched this little girl learn to walk, listened to her learn to talk, and watched her see and experience, every member of our family falling in love with one of the most incredibly tiny, complete perfect human beings that we have ever been blessed enough to meet; much less be lucky enough to have love us back. Little Reese, there will always be a place in our heart and in our home for you.. although I doubt if you'll need it, with all the love you have coming at you from EVERY direction. You are truly a lucky little girl, and no one deserves it more than you. "TANK TOO" for coming into our lives, and know that you will always have a Cotton thinking about, and loving you.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Lhorn's VON TRAPP singers

We have a CD at the restaurant that plays over and over and over again during the course of our working hours. I work six days a week, so after ten years, I have learned to totally tune it out (no pun intended... well, maybe a small one) Sometimes a customer will say... "who sings this song?" to which I wittily reply.. "is there music playing?" I have never been a big fan of country music, but thankfully they have incorporated more types over the years... although a person can only listen to "Wildfire" about the runaway horse so many times before they vow to never pet a pony again. At least they finally took off "barbeque chicken in aluminum foil, just enough money for my gas and oil". A couple of my fellow employees are habitual singers. My thought was to have them form a singing group similar to The Mamas and The Papas.. Our restrooms are labeled "lambs" and "bulls" .... so maybe that would be a better name. We got Chris on Bass, Ryan as tenor, and Amanda and Rochelle competing for solo soprano, with the loser having to be reduced to an alto. It is like living in a musical. Granted, their voices are all remarkably good. But I constantly remind them that I am trying to tune the music out, and they ain't helpin much. Just to tick Amanda off, I will start to sing "Mama's little baby loves shortin , shortin" YES that song actually was on one of the CD's..... and apparently the only song that Amanda didn't like. Yet once I get it into her head, she can't get it out, and it throws all of the Von Trapps into a tizzy.. losing their soprano doesn't help the high notes... although Ryan could probably do a pretty good falsetto. ( just kiddin) I love these guys, and love picking on them more... like I tell them, I only pick on the people I like, and I like ya'll A LOT !! Needless to say when " High School Musical" finally runs it's course... be on the look out for " Lhorn Musical" ... and "NO" Ryan, you can't be Zac Efron !! I am thinking that maybe next Christmas I will give them all choir robes, and just see what happens.... or maybe matching outfits similar to the ones that The Brady Bunch wore in their talent show.... and "NO" Ryan, you can't be Greg Brady !! Till next time...COTTON

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

I Hope you all voted

Voting is the most important thing that you can do as an American. If you don't vote... don't complain. If every American voted , the country would be in much better shape. It is truly a privilege, and is all too often poo-poo-ed by a society that is too busy to take ten minutes out of their day to register their opinion and voice. This is OUR chance to make a difference, a chance to take control; and a chance to make yourself heard. If you choose not to vote, than choose not to complain about this country; it's politics or it's direction. It is a great country that we live in, but the advantages that are given to us HAVE to be used and respected. We are wasting our democracy if we do not fulfill our responsibilities as citizens, and vote for what we believe in and want for our future. I have voted every election since I was given the privilege , and encourage every person in this nation to do the same. ONE vote at a time... can change destiny, and change the world. Think about it... don't you WANT to be heard? It may have been a whisper, but I was heard today; and that is all that matters. Till next time.. COTTON

Monday, February 4, 2008

How do they "manage" to make it through a day?

Let's not leave out the most important part of our restaurant team... The least we let them "think" they are the most important (just kidding). They work sixty plus hours at the store.. some coming in at 4 AM to receive deliveries, some staying until past one in the morning. They have one hundred people pestering them at all given times...from dishwashers to hosts to servers, cooks, and most dreaded...irritated customers. I was a manager at the last restaurant I worked at, and I am here to tell you, it ain't easy; by a LONG stretch. They are the hardest working and the hardest worked people in the restaurant business. I must admit that my managers treat me so great that I sometimes wonder what I have ever done to deserve such wonderful treatment?! But what is great about our management team is that the harder you work, the better they treat you... so I must work pretty darn hard. They have people constantly seeking them out in the store... people wanting them to buy ads in yearbooks, coupon books, banners in ball fields, or just wanting to rant and rave over the fact that their French onion soup was cold. It amazes me daily that the public can get SO worked up over an over done steak, or the fact that they had to actually WAIT for a table on a Friday night. Just wait till Valentine's Day... Every manager in the place will have an ulcer by the end of the day. They do not hesitate to jump on the line and help cook.. some have spent hours on the fryer, or char grill, even the salad window, just helping us get caught up and expedite the food. Many days, they will even wash dishes, plunge a toilet, or escort an intoxicated person out the door. They are the restaurant "parents" , and are responsible for every action, every complaint, situation and problem that arises in the course of a day. But throughout it all, they smile, are considerate to the customers.. whether they are wrong or right; put up with people calling in sick, not showing up, or not doing their job. And for some unknown reason, they continue to show up again the next day. Dealing with not only the public sector, but the behind the scene problems is enough to drive you crazy... Maybe that is why very few of our managers have a full head of hair! But my respect for them is immense, my sympathy for them is even greater. It is a fast paced, hectic world in the job of pleasing the public; but my bosses do it better than anyone in the world... and I am pretty sure that I am right on the mark with that statement... and will stand behind it, or them... any day of the week... Till later...COTTON

Sunday, February 3, 2008

My Muslim neighbors

My next door neighbors moved in on September 20, 2001. They are Muslim, the wife wears a birka ( I believe that is the way it is spelled) it is the scarf that they cover their head and face with. She is always covered from head to toe.. even in July, out pushing the mower in 90 degree heat. They have four children under the age of 8...obviously her husband knows how to get that birka off! It was really a scary thought to see them move in next door.. especially after 9-11 just having occured . I unconscionably wanted to think that they were terrorists, or that Al- Quaida was setting us all up for the next attack, and moving operatives into my neighborhood. Once I met and got to know them, it was a true delight to have them next door. She is an engaging, smart woman, who by the grace of God.. I guess I mean Allah.. takes care of four little kids with magnificent grace and ease. One day I was over to pick up my little girl from playing, and a very ornate looking clock began to chime on their mantel. My daughter... who has seldom been at a loss for words, said "Time to pray !! " To which the six year old daughter quickly spat back .. " I don't have to pray till I'm seven ! " It amazed me what my young daughter had picked up and absorbed from these people and their culture in such a short amount of time. They are sweet, wonderful neighbors, and I feel terrible about being apprehensive about their moving in. Last fourth of July, my sister and her family came over for a cook out. Cindy was supposed to bring her ice cream maker to make home made peach ice cream, and remembered everything but the ice cream maker. I made calls to all of my surrounding neighbors to see if they had an ice cream maker. After exhausting all possibilities , I decided to call Sumara, next door to see if she had one. She answered the phone cheerfully, as she always does. My name is Kelly.. which she always says as "KILLY" . I asked her if she may happen to have an ice cream maker... to which she once again cheerfully replied... " NO. But I have the ice cream sandwich." I had to cover the phone to suppress my chuckle, but her honesty, sweet nature, and cheerfulness have always been her trademark with me. If I had four kids under the age of eight, I would either be in a loony bin, or heavily sedated. They have just moved from next door, her husband got a great job with the FAA. I will miss them, and I will always be grateful for them easing my bias of the Muslim world, and realizing that we all make our own individual choices, we all chose our own path and destiny. It is a terrible thing to prejudge a person, or label them in any way, before you get to know them.I will miss them as neighbors, and miss them as friends . But I will always be thankful for the lesson of not judging a book by its cover.. that I rediscovered by having this wonderful family move in next to me. May God bless me for meeting them, and may Allah bless them for them being MY friend and neighbor. Till next time.... The COTTON

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Cooks who can "kick" it up a notch

As long as I am talking restaurant... let's don't forget all the cooks that I work with. They are a varied group of guys..biology degrees, former military, musicians, Latinos, students just trying to get through school, and some just trying to make a buck. It is an incredibly hard job that they have, and an awesome job that they do of it. One of our former cooks, who had a degree in Biology, was trying to get on as a pilot ( He has now been flying for ASA for several years). A great guy, engaged to one of our servers...they are now married and expecting! I remember one night the fryer that we fry all of our food in was on the fritz. Shawn was down on his hands and knees, trying to fix the fryer, we were in the middle of a dinner rush. I walked through the kitchen to get a rack of glasses, and as I walked by him, down on the floor, peering in to the innards of the massive "fry" machine... I remarked.. " oh, that's right... you have a degree in fry-ology" Thank goodness he was a dear fiend of mine, and I laugh about it all the time.. especially now that he is flying jets around the U.S. and making his dream come true. They have a true bond in the kitchen. They work in a constant 90 degree temperature, have 17 servers screaming at them at all times for 17 different things, and still put out the perfect product, in the perfect amount of time, in an absolute surrounding of pure chaos. That is what we call our kitchen in times of a rush... controlled chaos... and it is. But whatever you need from these guys, whatever it takes to make the customer happy.. they CAN and ALWAYS do it. We have a lingo that would seem like nonsense to the average person.. When we are out of something.. we are 86 that item. When we are in the weeds, we are so far behind that we need other team members to come to our aid and help us get caught up. "HEARD" is another big word for us. Since there are 17 of us in the window of the kitchen, asking for things.. I could say "I need a side of horsey" , and the response would be "horsey heard". That means that they heard my request, and they will get me a cup of horse radish sauce as soon as they can. When you are dragging something, that means it was left off of an order... " I'm dragging a sweet potato" .. and BAM .. there it is in the window of the kitchen. It is a strange, marvelous, hectic, insane job that I have. But for the men and women that cook and put out the wonderful product that I am proud to sell.. my hat is off to them... Thank you.... "HEARD" !!!

Friday, February 1, 2008

My Wonderful Mexican Friends

As I have already told you, I work in a restaurant. I don't know about other places in the country, but here in suburban Atlanta, Mexicans are the life blood of the kitchen in a restaurant. Some come and go; some are here to stay , and unfortunately... some are deported. Some are dishwashers... the ones that speak very little English, some are prep guys in the kitchen... we have recipes in Spanish... and some are cooks... that are pretty fluent with the English language. They are ABSOLUTELY the hardest working guys that I have ever met. One case in point. We have two dishwashers on a weekend night... one gets off around ten, and the other closes the store, finishing up the dishes and cleaning up. One night, I got off at midnight, went to my local Walmart to pick up a few groceries, and when I got out of my car, I saw the "early out" dishwasher pressure washing the parking lot at Walmart . He of course said 'HOLA" to me, I treat these guys with a lot of respect.. most of them work about 70 hours a week, for minimum wage, or a little over if they have been with us for a while. Some of them look like they are kids, but are all at least eighteen. I remember when I first started at my restaurant. One of the more brash girls peered through the dish pit window to tell the dishwasher to come and change the garbage cans. She said " I know you can speak English ! " She repeated for him to come change the cans.. he continued to ignore her.. she said once again... CHANGE THE GARBAGE CANS !! He looked through his little view spot from his position in the kitchen with dirty dishes piled all around him , and said (may I quote)... suck my *&#% !! I turned to her and replied.. "hey, you're right!! He CAN speak English." But I am a champion of these guys. They are hard workers, happy to be in America, and working harder than most of the Americans that I work with or see in other low paying jobs. One of my favorite guys is a host with us, seating people and busing tables. As I always chat them up, and inquire as to how they are doing.. He told me that he was in fact very tired that day.... To which I replied.. "Mi Dos" I thought that I had said "me too" but in fact , I said "me two" , which to him was saying the equivalent of " me forty seven ." He just laughed at me, and probably went straight to the back to make fun of me with the other Latinos. Their work ethic is admirable, the country that they come from is dirt poor. Yet they all need to come here in a responsible fashion, and take advantage of what America has to offer.... legally. A lot of my co-workers "poo-poo" these guys. But I always take time out of my shift to ask if they want or need a drink, try to learn some of their language ( which I have learned more of from them , than from my 8 years of Spanish in school). We have nick names for all of them, and listen to their music on their boom boxes that they have cranked up in the kitchen... I did not know that the accordion was still used at all, except in Polka music, but the Latinos seem to live and die by it. Some mornings when I come into work, I will hear a really slow, mellow song; and I will remark to one of the American cooks.. "Is that what they play in a Mexican Dentist office? " But these guys love me.. I respect them, try to have an interest in their day, and more than anything... try to be their friend (amiga). We are truly a melting pot society, and a mix of every race and religion that I can think of. But these guys are my friends, they are my co-workers, and they are part of my life.. which makes me once again realize how lucky and blessed that I am to not only live here, but to have all my papers in order. My biggest fear is who's going to be in the White House next!!