Saturday, May 31, 2014

Time For Another Hat Switch

Worked from eleven yesterday morning until nine last night at my home restaurant. Went back in at ten thirty this morning and got off a little after ten tonight, not sure if my feet will ever quit throbbing. Have to be up before six in the morning to leave the house by six thirty for the airport.

It's a good thing I'm already crazy because if I wasn't, would be soon. I only have to do this a few short months and all should be good...small price to pay in my book.

The lunch shift was pretty good. I had a one hour break and screamed home for thirty minutes. Great timing, Tim was just pulling burgers off the grill. I sat with Massey and scarfed down a burger while we chatted about her leaving for camp this afternoon.

She's going to be a counselor at Girl Scout Camp this summer and be gone all of June and July. I hugged and kissed her this morning before leaving for work in case I couldn't swing by the house to see her off this afternoon. At least I had thirty minutes with her to make sure she had everything she needed and give her a bit more cash to take with her for mad money until she got her first paycheck.

Got back to work in record time and the bottom dropped out. By four thirty I had at least five tables going and more piling in the door. There's a new girl training, most probably helping fill the gap I'll leave in the schedule when I go from six shifts a week to four. I worked with her over thirteen years ago at the restaurant I still call "Western Sizzler" so she's a pretty competent server, just needs to learn the massive menu and how to work along side the crazy Italians we work for. Since I was the only one on the floor she followed me and  let her ring in all my orders to learn the computer system. She was a tremendous help to me and couldn't have handled all the tables they sat me without her help.

When I cashed out with Barb in the office around ten I left my trainee a twenty for helping. I should have left more but times are tough and considering she wasn't expecting anything should be pretty happy when she comes in next and Barb gives it to her.

 I know all about training for a new job , it's hard when you aren't walking out with tip money every me! I'm currently doing it now and last week made it through  with five bucks to my name to spare when I got on the Marta train to go home.

Luckily I get paid at the end of the month for cutting the subdivision entrance and that money will get me though til Tuesday when it's payday at my home restaurant. That paycheck will get me through until Friday when I go back to my home restaurant after training all week again at the airport and wait tables all day Friday and Saturday.

I am really good at pulling a rabbit out of a hat and flying by the seat of my pants. If times get too tough my boys will always do help us out.

If I can just learn all this crap for the new gig we'll be set in a week or so. I'm fixing to fill out three tests I have to take with me tomorrow morning when I return to the airport gig.

Holy crap, I just get dizzy thinking about it!

Here's the thing about me...

Over the past few years we've learned when times are tough sometimes you have to scramble, rearrange, prearrange, prioritize, always pray and never be ashamed to accept help. Be sincere, always work hard and good things will eventually come your way. Call it Karma or the Golden Rule but if you give it your best, you'll be okay. Maybe not immediately but eventually.

When I find myself in times of trouble
Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be.
And in my hour of darkness
She is standing right in front of me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be.
Let it be, let it be.
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.

And when the broken hearted people
Living in the world agree,
There will be an answer, let it be.
For though they may be parted there is
Still a chance that they will see
There will be an answer, let it be.
Let it be, let it be. Yeah
There will be an answer, let it be.

And when the night is cloudy,
There is still a light that shines on me,
Shine on until tomorrow, let it be.
I wake up to the sound of music
Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be.
Let it be, let it be.
There will be an answer, let it be.
Let it be, let it be,
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.

I'm simply going to "Let it Be".

My life IS what it is. No one can change it but me. I have to listen for words of wisdom and there WILL be an answer!

Til next time... COTTON

Friday, May 30, 2014

There's No Place Like Home

Through with training at the airport until Sunday. I had to work a double at my home restaurant today and was relaxing to back.

Yes they are extremely  crazy but so am I.

Barb has been extremely gracious which is totally out of her "Boss Lady" character  but knows I'm only taking this second job to help my family.

Barb's got my back, always has... maybe it's just a "Girl thing" but my biggest regret is I've lost my "Bestie".

I love them both dearly but Len and I have always been close, especially when Barb is out of earshot.

He's a crusty old Italian with a temper like an atom bomb times ten but if you're a hard worker basically never have problems with him. Oh yeah, every once in a while he'll explode at you but ten minutes later has forgotten all about it.

I don't think he wanted to keep me around once Barb told him I was taking a second job, especially for another restaurant but once again, Barb had my back.

Unbelievably, he changed his mind and let me remain, dropping from five or six shifts a week to four.

This man who is almost ten years older than me works a minimum of  ninety hours, seven days a week. How he does it is a mystery to me but explains his sometime massive explosions.

These two  people took me in when at my all time low. Barb has floated me loan after loan and although I always paid her back, she never had to loan me money...but always  did.

I love crazy Len. I know his feelings are hurt and hurts me to hurt his.

I have to constantly tell myself  this isn't ABOUT them, it's about MY family.

I'll have to give Len kudos for being a pretty gracious guy. He doesn't joke around with me anymore like he used to but hasn't harped on or totally ignored me either. I feel like the chick who dumped her date after the prom.

If my husband and I were still making six figures a year  would be happy as a clam working only at Mama's, eight minutes away from my house but we're not making six figures and sinking fast.

This opportunity came seemingly out of nowhere and would be a complete idiot to not take advantage of it.

So I'm still at my home restaurant four shifts a week and grateful to be there. I totally understand Len's being upset with me. Not to brag but am one of the better servers and hands down one of Len's "Besties".

I miss Len talking and joking with me but is a small price to pay at this point.

No matter what happens from this point forward will always be grateful for the love and support this totally dysfunctional but amazingly wonderful family has given me.

On a more comical note, when I first started for Mama's, I thought Len looked like Dr. Evil.

Then his son told me his dad reminded him more of this guy...

Yep, Len's blind as a bat  like me without his peepers and totally get the Mr.Magoo reference but that's okay, I'm totally Phyllis Diller , and that's alright with me too. It beats being compared to one of the "Real Housewives of any city."

Til next time...a conflicted but hopeful COTTON

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Beginning to Get It (kinda sorta)

Today was my final day of training until Sunday morning. Tomorrow I'll be back in my comfort zone for two back to back doubles on Friday and Saturday but at least will know what I am doing.

Left the house today with a little over two hours to spare. Here's the thing about working in the Atlanta Airport:

You never know how bad the traffic will be.
You never know if you'll find a spot to park at Marta and if the trains are all running.
You never know how long the shuttle may take to get you to the international terminal.
You never know how long it will take to get through security.

 I found a spot in the Marta lot after trying both lots and finally waiting for a guy to get through texting or doing whatever he was doing in his phone after he got into his car to leave.

It's incredible in these Marta lots. I'm grateful they let you park for free but getting a car into the parking space is like trying to park a Winnebago in a match box, and that's in the lot marked "Larger cars".

It doesn't help that I'm already nervous number one, about starting a new job and number two, am borrowing my next door husband's little Ford Ranger to get back and forth this week.

After several attempts finally wedged the little truck into a spot and got out to trek up to the Marta train station in sweltering heat. At least I had forty five minutes to spare.

I've been using a Breeze Card and reloading it each day for two trips. I got to the kiosk and the machine couldn't read my debit card. I just got a new debit card last night and activated it at the house but was probably inserting it wrong. After three tries got nervous about my time constraint and luckily had five ones in my server book to feed into the machine.

Things went more smoothly then, got off at the airport and found the shuttle to international.

While riding the shuttle over I got my phone out and checked email then luckily checked my reminders. I wasn't due in at three thirty but three o'clock. I immediately started sweating (more).

When the shuttle pulled into the international terminal I had sixteen minutes to spare. Climbed out of the bus and ran like I was missing a flight for France.

Made it through security quickly, having learned my shoes or belt don't set the detectors off and flung my little clear bag into a tub and waited on the other side.

Clocked in at two fifty seven.

I studied and helped run food for a couple of hours then the manager assigned me to follow another server for the rest of my shift.

Actually it's the girl who's spot I am filling, she's moving to Belgium to work for a year.

It was nice to finally see how servers interact table-side. She was very helpful and learned quite a bit about handling international travelers.

I also quickly learned what kind of money I had the opportunity to make, judging from her tips. If I can get all this down, this job will be the answer we've been looking for. Combined with still serving at my current job I give it six months and will feel a sigh of relief we haven't had in quite some time.

I was exhausted by eight but kept it to myself. Already thinking ahead about tomorrow knowing I had a double shift to work in my comfort zone restaurant and turning around Saturday morning and doing the same again.

Lucky for me the manager let me go at nine.

I hobbled quickly down the escalator and took off for the Plane Train taking me back domestic side to catch  Marta and go home. It was my first night getting out well after dark and  a bit nervous about walking back to my next door husband's vehicle by myself.

I was standing on the Marta platform waiting for the train back to the parking lot when an older black gentleman, wearing an airport uniform tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I drove a truck?

I hesitated but said I did. Then it got all creepy when he asked if it was a Ford Ranger?


Immediately thought someone had either hit my next door husband's truck or had it towed.

He just shook his head, wagging a finger at me and said "I been looking at you all the way from domestic wondering where I seen you and now I know, you parked where I did!"

Thank You Jesus!

We sat on the Marta train together for the short ride back to the parking lot and went ahead and told him it was my first time going back to the parking lot after dark and was a little nervous.

He said "Shoot, I'll walk you to your car!"

He HAD indeed parked a few spaces up from me and after watching me get into the truck drove by me, honked and waved.

I'm SO out of my comfort zone it isn't funny but when things like this happen, feel more confident not only about my decision to take this leap of faith  but feel more confident in the goodness of human beings.

We both headed onto 85 South and as he passed me, blinked his lights and waved again.

“Do your little bit of good where you are; it's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” 
― Desmond Tutu

I still feel like I'm training to be a nuclear scientist but finally feel a little better about my chance of succeeding.

Switching hats again tomorrow and although  have two doubles in a row can at least breathe easy for a while.

I am indeed a lucky person!

Til next time...COTTON

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Dazed and Confused (What else is new?)

Didn't have to be at the new restaurant for training until three but had to go in at eleven to meet a woman from HR to take an alcohol awareness test. I was to meet her in the atrium on the domestic side and fortunately knew exactly where it was since it's where I interviewed. I even got there twenty minutes early and had time to sit and semi relax. She met me and we took so many back room twists and turns I couldn't tell you if we were still even in the airport. She used her keys to unlock and lead me through several doors but finally wound up in a tiny room with several computers in it.

She loaded up the program for the test, gave me the password to re enter the test in case I somehow got kicked off (it's like she already knows me) and left me alone. I started the test shortly after eleven and didn't finish until after two thirty and that was with me zipping right through.

Around hour two my old woman bladder was screaming and  went in search of a bathroom. I opened the door to the room and there were four doors to choose from. I opened the first door and found myself in the kitchen of some restaurant. The Asian guy doing prep looked at me like "Where you come from?" Lucky for me a server came walking around the corner and asked if there was a restroom I could use? She directed me through another series of doors and I found the ladies room. Getting back wasn't quite as easy (the server was long gone) but finally made it back to my little computer room. When hour three began to approach my bony butt was killing me and my cell rang. It was the HR woman asking if I was okay?  I told her yes but it was an awfully long test and thank goodness was finally taking the post test. She said "That's great, now all you have to do is use that sixteen digit code I gave you and take the  actual test."


I first had to take a pre test, without reading anything just to gauge what I already  (supposedly) knew, which I scored 70 on. (my bad)   Then had to  watch a bunch of videos and read a ton of material and take the post test. Scored an 85. I thought I was done when she called to remind me about the code for the actual test.

Three hours later I took the real deal test and scored ninety...not too bad for an old woman! She told me when  done to simply log off and go to my restaurant for work.

I found my way out of the maze of back room doors and called the restaurant to tell them I was still in the domestic terminal but on the way to the international terminal.

I went through security like I have the past three days but for some reason they set my tub to the side and a TSA worker asked me to follow him. Great, guess I forgot to take that AK- 47 out of the clear plastic purse I was carrying.

He pulled out my bottle of Bath and Body spray (which I JUST bought a couple of weeks ago) and told me it was over the three ounce limit. I didn't mention it had been  there the past few days going through security and no one said anything. I asked if he wanted me to throw it away but shook his head and said just not to bring it again. Thank the Lord, it cost me ten bucks.

I left security and  already running late although the restaurant knew I had been taking the Safe Serve test but was antsy about being late. I was calling the restaurant on my cell to tell them I was on the way and somehow missed the escalator going down where the Plane Train takes you out to the International terminal. I wound up back outside of security and had to go through again.

I stopped and threw my precious bottle of body spray into a trash can knowing I was fixing to walk through security again. Lucky for me I found the shuttle bus I rode yesterday and simply got on it.

I trained from three fifteen til almost eight. I was on the sautee line with one of the chef's who let me taste every dish he prepared. I ate more food than I have in the past month. I even tired the grilled octopus.

It's a lot of food I've never tried or sometimes even heard of but what the hey, I'm stepping out of the box. Don't ask me how to pronounce half of it, that's going to be a big issue but just going to have to study like crazy.

So I have one job I am comfortable with and know like the back of my hand. I have another job I have a hard time even finding the way to.

I'm taking deep breaths, I'm praying a lot and telling myself what my daughter tells me all the time...

"You GOT this mom!"

Tomorrow I have to go to the Midtown location for a beverage class before going to the airport.

I'm assuming this is a class where I will learn how much knowledge I lack about fine wines.

I am totally and completely overwhelmed but never been the sort to back down or give up and don't plan on starting now.

If I can make it through training and work these two jobs for several months, will be the answer I've been looking for.

Two more days of feeling completely out of my league then I 'll have four shifts back to back in my comfort zone at Mama's.

I felt like going back to that trash can on the way out tonight and rooting around to find my body spray but was so tired was just glad I found the Marta train to take me back to the little truck my wonderful neighbors have let me use to get back and forth to this new job.

I may not have "Got this" yet but sure am going to give it my best shot.

Til next time...COTTON

Monday, May 26, 2014

Can This Old Dog Really Learn New Tricks?

I've been a server for well over three decades and still dread when I have to start over at a new place.

You may think serving is like riding a bicycle but boy have bicycles changed over the decades. I walked in today and felt like I needed training wheels!

Everyone was very nice and I took tons of notes. I have a lot to learn but think I can do it.

It's not much fun having to leave the house almost two hours before work but learned today I may need to add a few minutes to my early departure. Last week I was in orientation on the T concourse, a five minute walk from the Marta train...but first there's security to get through. Sometimes there's maybe five people in front of you, sometimes there's thirty, and that's the employee line. They told me last week (I was the only one in orientation working on F concourse) that when I arrived at the airport on Marta, should just walk back out the door and ride the shuttle to the International terminal and go through security there instead.

I had to be at work at three so left the house at one thirty. Made it to the airport by two thirty and got off the Marta train. I saw a guy I recognized from the restaurant when I went by last week to get my schedule.


I tapped him on the shoulder on the escalator and asked if he was headed to work? He looked at me like I was an idiot (he isn't far off) but nodded and asked if I could tag along?  He said sure so I followed like a lost puppy. At least now I know how and where to catch the shuttle bus. The ride ate up  fifteen more minutes Security wasn't nearly as crowded in the international terminal but still walked into the restaurant at 2:56 which made me nervous and convinced me to leave the house thirty minutes earlier tomorrow.

The Atlanta airport is like a huge city in itself. After three days of orientation on the domestic side I pretty much learned my way around...well not my way around so much but at least  my way to the training room. Going from concourse T to concourse F is like leaving one city and going to another.

So little ole country me is working in a place where people from all over the world come to eat. I still haven't tried the grilled octopus but seems to sell like crazy. I skipped trying the beef tongue for now (baby steps) but was curious enough to ask if I could see the whole thing before they whacked it up to look like pot roast? They have Fava beans and the only time I've ever even heard of those was in Silence of the Lambs if that says anything about how much of a bumpkin I am. Heck they look like Lima's to me. The chef said they look like them but have a completely different taste. (We'll see about that!)

They make their own mozzarella and ricotta every day which impressed me but guess if you can afford a ticket to France you can afford to eat in a place that makes their own cheese.

Yes, I'm a little out of my league but know the basics of serving. I guess it IS like riding a bicycle.

When I started with Red Lobster right out of college I was riding a tricycle. Johnny's Pizza for the next fourteen years was like moving up to an old school Red Rider. We'll call working at the Western Sizzler for thirteen years (not the real name of the place but still refuse to say it) a Banana Bike. My current comfort place, Mama's is like a ten speed. After walking in today and seeing not only the menu but also the wine list wondered how a fifty four year old woman could learn to ride a Crotch Rocket in ten days?

Guess I'll find out!

So I'm heading back tomorrow, thirty minutes earlier and a little bit wiser. I can already tell it's going to be hard but the last five years of my life have been excruciatingly hard but made it this far.

Four more days of learning about fancy food and wine and then I'm back to my ten speed, eight minutes away from home but feels like home.

In the words of my eighteen year old daughter "I got this."

Sometimes you have to step out of the box and step out I will. If I can learn it all and get used to the added travel time, security and waiting on people who have enough money to buy and sell me, I'll be okay.

Huge, HUGE shout out to my bosses at Mama Lucia's for letting me take this tremendous leap of faith. I know it's hard for them to see me splitting my time between the two jobs but  think this may be our saving grace and have absolutely no plans to desert them, only want to speed up our financial recovery.

It will be nice to walk back into Mama's on Saturday and pick up where I left off... my comfort zone.

Til next time,  COTTON

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Taking A Leap

It's been a while since I've blogged, life's been stupid crazy...even by MY standards. Logged on and saw there have now been 99,901 hits on my blog. That made me smile.

Still don't have my car but have it down to five hundred more dollars and will be an official car owner again.

I was cleaning out our email inbox a few weeks ago. We had over 4,600 in our inbox. Most all were from job search engines. It took me forever because I read every job related message just to make sure we hadn't missed the opportunity we'd been waiting on.

I came across one in particular and clicked on it. It wasn't eight minutes from my house like my current job but thirty minutes away. I'm a firm believer if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. After much investigation, prayer and fact finding decided to give it a try.

I'm almost fifty four years old and only had three different jobs since I was twenty one. I don't like change. I prefer my comfort zone.

Lately I've realized sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures and this is definitely a desperate time in our lives. My husband recently secured a full time job, which is wonderful but doesn't immediately erase or cure our past few year's worth of accrued financial problems.

At the initial interview I commented my current employers had no idea I was talking to anyone else and not only felt intense loyalty to my current job but owed our survival mainly to the kindness and generosity of them realizing what a hard worker I was and compensating me by helping us out time and time again.

I was told the job was five days a week with two days off scheduled back to back and if I wanted to could work my other job those two days.

When I first started with my current job worked thirteen of the fourteen shifts seven days a week for well over two years, not because they asked me to but because I needed and they allowed me to.

After over an hour interview, this new company offered me a job. It was a long drawn out process but after two weeks found out I was hired.

Now came the hardest part.

How do you tell employers who saved your family and have grown to love you, gave you a great job you love that you have taken a second job? It wasn't easy and in fact  was one of the hardest things I've ever done. I was going to tell the owner the night before I started orientation for the other job but he left early and instead had to tell his wife.

After explaining my situation asked if they could work with me for two weeks while I completed training and then would be more than happy to work both my off days for them pulling double shifts on both days giving me four shifts to work for them after my five at the new place. Working seven days a week is nothing new to me and knew I could do it...if only they would let me.

She wasn't happy but said she understood. She hugged my neck and I told her I loved her. I cried like a baby, she even teared up and when all was said and done simply looked at me and said "I hate that you're having to go through this." I told her that made two of us but the decision had absolutely nothing to do with them but to do with what was best for my family.

We've once again fallen behind on our mortgage and the giants at Hells Fargo are chomping at the bit to take our house since we are four years away from pay off. Most people in our situation are upside down in their mortgages and the bank works with them because they'll take a huge hit if they foreclose. With us, they'll take our house and sell it for a huge profit.

My nerves are shot, I'm a complete wreck crippled with guilt but if this new job works out like I think it will, after six months we'll be back on top and moving forward instead of constantly spinning our wheels and worrying about always borrowing from Peter to pay Paul.

I have no plans to leave my current job and don't desire to. I simply have to take this leap of faith or fall into the financial abyss below.

My boss is upset with me and  totally understand his feelings. Not to brag but am one of the strongest servers he has and he'll be losing me two shifts a week.

I'm torn, I'm conflicted but desperate. When push comes to shove I HAVE to think of my own family before I think about my current working family.

He hasn't spoken to me very much but been amazingly restrained. It helps that when I now go into work, even work harder (if that's possible) and from the time I walk in til the time I walk out do nothing but bust my skinny butt.

I didn't want it to happen this way...but SOMETHING had to happen and happen quickly. I've been called a lot of things, some true and some not but you can never call me a quitter.

I feel this may be the opportunity we've been waiting for. I feel this may be one of the  answers. I feel like I can't turn this chance down.

I'm taking a leap of faith.

Webster's defines Feeling as an effective state, such as that resulting from emotions or desires: a feeling of excitement.

I'm a lot of things but loyal to a fault. I am still loyal to my current bosses. If my husband still made what he did a few years back would be perfectly happy to remain in my current digs, eight minutes from home.

I'm stepping out of the box,  taking the leap and hoping I don't fall flat on my face.

Wish me luck...and pray for me.

Til next time   COTTON

Friday, May 16, 2014

Getting Better All the Time

Tim had to get up at two AM for his first full day on his new job. I think it's the first time he's ever looked FORWARD to getting up at that time.

If you think I have been stressed out, just imagine how he has felt. His car is running again thanks to Zach and my next door husband's kid. They put a new alternator and timing belt on and it's working just fine now.

Zach had to go in to open at the restaurant where he cooks. Usually this would mean shuffling and arranging a ride. Thanks to my nephew who is out of town and left us his car to use this weekend, Zach took it to work, therefore also having a ride home when he got off (another big issue we had).

Lucky me didn't have to leave the house until it was time for my shift.  It's such a pleasure to wake up and not have to immediately ask every one what time they need to leave for work or scramble out early in the morning to get errands run before someone else needed it for work.

I still call us the Clampetts, but feel as if we've found a little bit of that Texas Tea the last day or two. Tim finally secured a full time job, friends and family came to our rescue with loaner vehicles to get us all to and from work and even my neighbor pitched in, spending MANY hours over here getting Tim's own car fixed.

I feel like a different person. I think some of my gray hair has even turned back to it's natural color.

I went in to work today and my boss asked if Tim had started his new job? I said "Yes, thank The Lord." He asked if I felt better and I put it this way: "Well I haven't cried once in two days, what do you think?"

Two days ago I couldn't STOP crying. I was lamenting about our sorry luck to Barb, the owner's wife and said I felt so desperate had even briefly contemplated suicide but knew Tim certainly didn't have the money to dispose of my ninety nine pounds. She said in her usual droll fashion "They'd probably just ask to borrow the money from me." That at least made me smile, although she was also probably right. I call her Mrs. Drysdale because she has given me so many loans when I needed it.

When Massey and I went the next day to pick up the loaner car from my generous new friend, I asked her if there were any intricacies about the car I should know about? She shrugged her shoulders and said "Well the back passenger window doesn't roll down if that's what you mean. Other than that it runs just fine."

Had she borrowed Tim's car from us we would have had a list a mile long to tell her about:

"Okay, here's the key. It's the only one we have because they cost seventy five dollars. It's broken and duct taped together so be careful with it, sometimes it falls apart. If you turn the blinker on you have to turn it off manually after you turn. If the blinkers won't work at all you have to turn the Hazard lights on for five seconds,  turn them off and then the blinkers will work. Sometimes the gas door gets stuck and you have to pry it open the open the gas cap. The radio isn't working because after replacing the alternator and timing belt it reset and don't have the code. Other than that you're good to go unless it's really hot outside. The A/C works about as good as a small desk fan from the Dollar Store so it's better to drive with the windows down and take a comb or brush with you to fix your hair once you reach your destination, besides THAT it's a great car!"

So Tim's working again...what a blessing! I'm able to drive myself to and from work and not have to constantly bum rides or look ahead on the schedule to see who is working that lives close to me and can drop me off or pick me up.

It's almost like I'm a grown up now!

Work has been busy and the tipping gods have smiled on me. I have enough money for another payment on the car we have been buying for over a year now. Six hundred more dollars and I'll have my OWN ride.

Now that Tim is working again hopefully can make this happen in the next week or so.

One of my favorite poets of all times said it best:

Til next time...Confident COTTON

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait

I didn't get home from work til after midnight last night. Another server and I shared a party of 30 businessmen.

It was my new record night, one table and walked with well over two hundred fifty dollars after tip out and couldn't have come at a better time.

Our clown car broke down. Seems it needed a new timing belt. I was relieved it was only twenty six bucks. Zach and my next door husband's son put it on only to discover the alternator was cracked.

Yep, that sounds about right for us.

 Off to Autozone they went... an alternator was  $240. Thanks to the businessmen we had the part paid for and some money for a few groceries.

When I left for work last night I dolled out orders. Tim had gotten all my summer clothes out of the attic and I wanted Massey to wash, dry and put them up. I wanted Tim to clean up the kitchen (to MY standards) meaning all counters cleaned, junk moved off  the kitchen table and chairs cleared of backpacks.

I, of course bummed a ride home from work. When I got out of my friend's car and walked down the driveway I had to pick up my next door husband's battery charger out of the driveway and take it into the garage. Then I went back out and wound up the two drop cords and brought them into the garage.

It didn't get any better when I went into the house.

Yes the dishes were loaded in the dishwasher. The table was cleared but had food crumbs and grass from the bottom of the dog's water bowls. At least I knew they had given the dogs fresh water.

I moved the lazy Susan off the table and cleaned it with Murphy's Oil Soap. (Pretty clever, huh?)

The trash was so full the bag had slipped down into the can. Don't think THAT stopped them from cramming more on top! I took the trash out and relined the can.

Just gets worse.

I walked up to the living room and all my summer clothes were in piles. Some were folded and some weren't. I picked up the first pile and immediately realized they were still damp.


That's one of my biggest pet peeves, although I seem to have dozens if you ask my family.

If you start a load of laundry you need to finish it. That doesn't mean just leave it in the washer, that doesn't mean leave it in the dryer. That means wash, dry, fold and put away.

I grabbed all my clothes and went back downstairs to the laundry room. I opened the dryer to throw them back in and what do you think I found?

Let's all us moms say it together... "Another load of clothes not yet dry."

I piled my clothes into a basket on the floor, turned the dryer back on and went into the kitchen for a Natty Light. By this time it was after one AM. I had to be at work at ten thirty AM.

I had called home at eleven to tell them I would be late but had a ride and asked Massey if my clothes were done?

Yes Maam!

At four AM, I put up the last of the clothes, hanging up the dresses and simply crashed on the couch.

Don't ask what's wrong with me but I woke up at seven thirty. Oh now I remember...That's when TJ came home through the front door.

I slept til nine thirty and got up to get dressed for work. Tim came into the kitchen while I was getting a glass of water and taking my daily (store brand) Zyrtec.

I had text a girl last night who works with me on Wednesday day shifts asking if she could swing by and pick me up? I checked my response.

Tim told me our next door neighbors (who are most probably looking for a house very far away from us) said he could take me to work in their spare truck, a little Ford Ranger.

 I began to unload on Massey about the clothes when she said TJ had wanted to do some laundry of his own last night and after she told him I wanted my summer clothes washed, said he would wash mine first.


Tim and I trudged across the front lawn when I was ready and climbed into my neighbor's truck. We got as far as the stop sign when I started.

"When I ask you guys to do something, just DO it. Don't half do it, don't skip steps or think the attempt will make me happy because it won't. Yes the dishes were done but that's the first step. The counters weren't wiped down, the trash was overflowing and there were backpacks, hats and work clothes in every chair. I know you all think I'm a total bee-otch but if you just follow through and complete the task I would come home and rave about it. Instead I stay up until 4AM not only steaming about but getting it done myself, then fall asleep on the couch for a three hour nap, wake up, zone out for a couple more hours then start the drill again.

Then I went into overdrive and the tears started. When you're upset and ranting, once that first tear drops it's all over.

While I had been getting ready for work Tim had a phone call from the company he had applied with. They told him to come in tomorrow to start.

By this point I was like "Now what are we going to do about getting ME to work?"

Yep, I was on a "ME" tirade (and doing a pretty good job of if I may say so my selfish self) when we arrived at my work. I got out of the truck and went inside to clock in.

I had maybe three meltdowns at work, venting  with other female co workers. Us women folk stick together.

 Night before last I wrote  a blog about waiting on a guy with stage three colon cancer and how his wife would most probably change places with us in a heartbeat.

The next morning I received a private message on Facebook from a woman I have maybe met three times. She was a manager for the restaurant where I work before I started. She's good friends with Barb, my boss.

It said  "I might be able to help you out with a temporary fix for a ride- give me a call. To remind you of who I am I used to be a manager @ the restaurant. Barb knows me pretty well."

I was floored.

 We phone tagged a few times and when she called the restaurant was busy with the thirty top. I asked Barb to speak with her and tell her how busy I was.

Barb later told me her friend had an older car she wasn't using and wanted to offer for us to use it.

I wondered how she knew about our latest debacle because  usually don't write about how desperate we are on Facebook.

Turns out she reads my blog.

Today when I got off at four, once again asked for yet another favor from a co worker. She was working a double and wouldn't be leaving the restaurant til almost midnight. I told her about the offer of a loaner car and asked if I could take her car in case I could go pick it up?

An hour before all this happened, had pangs of guilt and sent Tim a text apologizing for going off on him. I ranted and raved the entire ride to work about what "I" was ticked about when should have been telling him HUGE congratulations on finally securing a job.

I did my server friend the tiny favor of going by and making a bank deposit for her, then going by my own bank.

I got home and not twenty minutes later my cell rang. It was the woman who read my blog and told me to come on by and pick up the loaner car. She lives about five minutes away.

Here's the usual COTTON story...

I borrow a car from a co worker to go to the bank, go home then take HER car to go pick up ANOTHER car so I can have a ride to and from work.

Massey rode with me since I needed someone to take my co worker's car back. We got to my guardian angel's house and she was waiting in her driveway.

Heck, I thought by "Older" she meant something like one of the cars we have (or currently don't).

Massey and I talked with her for about thirty minutes. She fell a while back in her garage and has undergone two back surgeries SO far with one more in her future.

This woman who I have spoken to maybe three times handed me the keys to  a Mercury Sable with leather seats, all the amenities you could want and told me she simply wanted to help.

Heck, I thought we were going to pick up a Pinto.

She told me she reads my blog which has sometimes made her laugh hysterically but after reading about our current situation simply wanted to help.

Massey drove my co worker's car back to the restaurant and I followed driving the car this amazingly gracious woman had just given me the keys to.

So now my husband has a job!

 Zach and my  next door husband's son put the new alternator in Tim's  car and believe it or not, the car runs!

My nephew is going out of town for the weekend and brought his car over for the boys to get back and forth from work. They get off well after one AM and sometimes later.

It feels like Christmas around here!

No, ACTUALLY...  it feels like Karma has finally rolled around, the tide has turned and The Big Guy said "Here ya go and thanks for waiting."

A woman who I barely know,  suffering from physical difficulties and problems of her own has solved so many of OUR problems  it's almost unbelievable.

Lesson learned..."You Gotta Have Faith."

Til next time...The most grateful COTTON on earth

Monday, May 12, 2014

Are You Kidding Me?

So we loaded up our clown car today to do the job drop off thing. They let me out at work first and the clowns shifted seats. Next they dropped off the boys at work. Tim was heading into Atlanta for a meeting with a guy about a job and Massey was driving him. Not a block from where the boys work, the car broke down. Power steering went out and the battery light came on.


I got a text from Massey "You're going to LOL at what just happened. Actually you're probably going to cuss and cry at our lives but whatever."

I went out back, called her and immediately said "Don't tell me the car broke down."

Take a guess what her answer was?

At least three of us got to work albeit with no rides home but worse than that Tim missed his interview.

Massey was right on two of her three comments. Yes I cursed and yes I went in the restroom and cried but the thought of LOL never once crossed my mind.

Here we were, five of us limping through with just one car and now don't even have that. Dang I felt pitiful.

It took me at least thirty minutes to compose myself enough to wait on tables. We had a party of  twenty coming in from the Cancer Treatment Center of America across the street.

It's usually the big wigs and executives, they come in quite a bit and have an account with us so just sign the check.

A young girl I've never met came in first to set up. They were booked in a back room and she propped up a "Welcome Cancer Center" sign. She stopped and spoke with one of my tables which was right outside the room. (It was a man and his wife)

When the young girl (and by this I mean early thirties) went back outside for something the man at my table asked if they could possibly move to another section and still have me as a server? I said sure and moved them to another section. He told me he worked at the Cancer Center and the twenty people coming were patients out for a family night. Since he was dining with his wife and they were headed for the movies next door, felt like he should separate work from his private life.

The party showed up, patients and their families. One extremely tall black gentleman came in with his beautiful wife and their two small children. Some had ridden the bus over from the center and a few had driven themselves. I just thought I recognized the tall dude and his wife from somewhere when it finally hit me.

I see the Cancer Center commercials all the time on TV. You know, the commercials where they feature one patient's story? I remembered seeing the one with a tall slender black man, his wife and two children. He had been diagnosed with stage three Colon cancer and went to the Cancer Treatment Center for a second opinion. They were just such a precious family and not even knowing them sent up a silent prayer.

I just thought this was the man in the commercial, or maybe I was just tripping.

 After taking all the orders and putting them in I went to check on the couple I had moved to another table. I told him it may sound crazy (and crazy isn't a far stretch for me) but did he know if the tall guy with the Cancer Treatment party had been featured in one of their commercials?

Bingo! He said as a matter of fact he had and were an awesome family.

While taking out salads to  the party, after handing the beautiful tall dude's wife hers simply said "I've prayed for your family." She looked up at me with a quizzical look on her face. I quietly said I recognized her and her family from the commercial and just wanted to let her know I hoped the best for all of them.

She put her hand over her mouth then said "Oh my goodness that is so kind of you. Do you mind if I give you a hug?"

You know what? I had a crappy day. I've had a rough few years but don't have a husband with stage three Colon cancer and two small children.

My day took a 180 degree turn when she stood up, smiled and hugged me tightly.

"What doesn't kill you makes you stronger."

My husband not having a job or any of us not having a car won't kill us. The cancer her husband has just might and maybe will.

This woman and her two small children would most probably change places with us in a New York minute.

Is YOUR glass half empty or half full?

I needed this tonight. I needed it bad.

I needed to hug someone with troubles much greater and more dire than my own and have them remind me...our glass is definitely half full.

Til next time....A Humbled COTTON

Sunday, May 11, 2014

It's Over!

I started feeling bad at work on Friday night. By the time I clocked out  could hardly stand. My face was flushed with fever and nose running like a faucet. Massey picked me up, took me home and made me some hot herbal tea. I collapsed on the sofa and didn't get up until time for work on Saturday. Felt a bit better or at least convinced myself so and made it through another busy shift. Came home and prepared food to take to work on  Sunday. All the servers brought something so we could snack as we worked.

Woke up on Mother's Day and the kids gave me a really sweet card, Massey gave me flowers and the three of them gave me a book about the history of Atlanta. Took the three Mac & Cheese's I'd made Saturday night and went in at ten AM.

Yes I was dreading the day.

People are usually awful on busy holidays and servers end up feeling more  like victims.

Today was off the wall busy, the kitchen was overwhelmed but believe it or not out of twelve hours only encountered one person who acted like an idiot...Go figure.

Most people were patient, understanding and renewed my faith in the human race.

We had people lined up at the doors ten minutes before we opened them. We had planned on feasting on our employee buffet during the lull but a lull never happened. Around five I scarfed down a hot dog while sitting on a step stool I opened by the ice machine.

I have never had so few complainers in the thirty four years I've been serving. For the most part everyone understood what a crush we were under and patiently waited for their food.

I was actually dreading today so much,  mainly because I was under the weather and not feeling my best but to my great surprise most  people were absolutely awesome.

Maybe all these years as a sever tainted my faith of the public.

My first few steps were awesome. Great tables, people and even a few laughs.

 As it got even busier there were a few times when felt I was drowning. Long ticket times, people sitting waiting for food with no one but me to answer for it. I eventually ran out of answers and asked for prayers and patience.

Twelve hours later I limped out the back door waiting on the curb for my daughter to pick me up. After all was said and done, out of  every table I waited on only one left me a bad tip.

That's a pretty good average!

Not sure if it's global warming, all the new meds on the market, sky high gas prices or maybe just people realizing what really matters but the public was pretty stinking nice to me...and it felt  good.

If going out to eat on Mother's Day turns into an ordeal and have to wait for your meal is the biggest thing to happen to you, you're one of the lucky ones.

Obviously I waited on really smart people today.

I hope every Mother had a fabulous day.

Mine was tiring, trying at times but pretty lucrative.

If I'd had the day off that would have been awesome but think I'd rather have the paycheck.

Til next time...COTTON

Monday, May 5, 2014

Cinco de Drinko

It's not a good thing when you are a server on Cinco de Mayo and work at an Italian restaurant. The La Parilla across the street had a forty five minute wait at five thirty, and their food is borderline "Okay" at the most.

Screw them!!! We had a party of fifty at six thirty.  Everything ran smoothly and by ten was walking out the door.

Unfortunately my least favorite holiday of the year is quickly approaching.

How sad is it I have three kids and my least favorite day of the year is Mother's Day? My oldest is twenty seven and have never EVER had a Mother's Day off. That's just the way it goes when you are a server. It's a balls to the wall day and all hands need to be on deck, especially the good ones.

I've come to call the occasion "One Mother of a Day."

We're slammed from thirty minutes before we open until we close the doors that night. Disgruntled cheap husbands are forced to take their wives out if she birthed a youngun. A lot of them are peeps who would NEVER go out to eat, especially on a Sunday when SHE should be in the kitchen making Sunday dinner for HIM! If they gotta pay for dinner when they don't want to, they sure ain't tossing no stinking waitress more of their hard earned money! (We have a lot of red necks here in the south)

It's always a nightmare. They get ticked when they have to wait for a table when they didn't even bother to make a reservation so are automatically irritated before you even say hello to them.

They come in a noon with a party of ten and wonder why their food takes so long?

Let's see...we have one hundred of you in here all ordering at once and six cooks. You do the math, Idiot.

If you are short on patience, and / or hard to please, you ARE an idiot to go out to a restaurant on Mother's Day between the hours of  eleven AM and two PM. You have a tiny window at four PM and may still have to wait a bit but by five it starts again.

People are sometimes really rude to me, which ticks me off number one because I "AM" a mother and it's supposed to be MY day too...and number two because "Hello? I'm WORKING on Mother's Day for $2.13 an hour and whatever else you'll throw me, AND have three kids!"

It's not like I'm forced to be a server and actually enjoy being one. It's the idiots I can't stand, but they are out there EVERYWHERE, not just in restaurants...we just get a butt load of them when they're forced to do something nice for somebody it costs them money.

Most of the serving staff is all female (except four) and all young. Only two young severs have little ones and unless they switch professions, best get used to detesting the day as much as I do. Trust me, after this Sunday they will.

So Cinco de Mayo (the made up holiday for Gringos) turned out pretty good for me. Let's just hope Sunday goes as smoothly. I'm not counting on it...but a server / mom can always dream!

Til next time...COTTON

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Freshman Year Done!

Tim just hauled Massey back to school for her last week as a freshman in college. I'm not sure how it flew by so rapidly but pretty sure it did for her as well.

This is how she looked the first time I met her. Wires, tubes and monitors.

She scared me to death coming into the world months early but was one resilient baby.

She ultimately turned out to be an equally resilient young lady.

Unfortunately all my kids were old enough to realize what was going on when our lives took a turn for the worse.

It's been a struggle, no doubt but been the card's we were dealt.

My boys have never complained, not that Massey has either but men seem to hide emotions much better than women. I suppose it's a built in (male) coping mechanism.

Fortunately (very fortunately) my girl and I have always remained close.

So this next weekend she comes home for the summer after completing her freshman year in college.

I saw this picture she had posted, before attending her hall banquet and didn't quite know what to think?

Is this the same little girl who looked like this just a few weeks ago in my mind?

The thing about having a girl is you are raising your best friend if you do it right.

 Raising boys is completely different. They will always love you but not necessarily need to be your "Bestie."

Last year this time, Massey walked across that stage and entered the real world.

High school is fun...but simply a tiny blip on the huge screen of your life.

College is where you either make your mark or miss it.

She is blessed with having a fantastic room mate who's family loves her like one of their own.

We're the Clampetts and they are the Drysdales. (without the attitude) They are by no way millionaires but a secure and financially stable family. Once again, we are blessed.

They have taken my daughter under their wing and thanks to them has had every comfort of home in her dorm room.

Life is a strange and winding path with so many turns it could make your head spin, and often has.

I tend to look at it this way:

We're not doing well financially but are blessed and loved.

What more could a person ask for?

Massey seems to have hit her stride. She has determination and that's all it takes.

Webster's define determination as  " A fixed movement or tendency toward an object or end."

She has worked her way through her freshman year with a job in the mail room earning her own money and even loaned me a couple of bucks from time to time. She has a job lined up this summer as a counselor at camp for the months of June and July.

I have no doubt or qualms about how far she will go in life and most probably exceed her wildest dreams, enjoying it every minute of the way!

As the brilliant Dr. Seuss said "Kid, you'll move mountains."

Look out world, here comes MASSEY ANN COTTON!

Til next time...COTTON

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Prom Night(mare)

I've gotta start paying more attention to dates on the calendar. I went bopping into work today around three thirty thinking about how I would MAKE this my big night. That was until one of the cooks told me we were down two cooks and no one else could cover.

The high school system had other plans too. The high school all three of my kids attended had prom tonight and it's a school of over 3,000 students. They started pouring in the door around four in gowns obviously costing some serious money and made me begin to wonder exactly how many hormones are they pumping into chickens these days because some of  these gals rivaled Dolly Parton in their strapless gowns? No wonder their dates looked all sweaty.

My first table of  four were very nice and well behaved which made the three dollar tip they left me on a seventy dollar tab seem more like five but doesn't help ME much.

Another male server who has a great sense of humor commented to me in the kitchen  he was going to start going up to the guys at his table and ask if they needed him to buy them some beer or see if anybody needed condoms?

My next table left me six on eighty... at least I was going in the right direction and was time for all them to start heading to the "Big Dance."

The Kentucky Derby was about to start and the bartender started a Derby pool. One buck let you draw a horse's number out of a jar and if your horse won, you got the pot...nineteen dollars. I took one of the nine dollars I had made and drew myself a number out of the jar.

I was cleaning my table of latest Prom'ers when my horse screamed across the line! Number Five, California Chrome.

Take that, high school kids! I was now even with what I SHOULD have made.

You know, I don't get too upset about prom. The parents most probably DO lecture them about tipping when counting out the bills before the kid leaves, but when you hand a kid a wad of cash on the most important night in their seventeen year old life, once in THEIR pocket feel like they are rolling Phat and making the decisions.

My co worker may have been pretty smart with his concept. Maybe next year instead of a dessert menu I'll hand out a menu of items I have to sell. I'm thinking Sloe Gin, Sprite and Trojans.

At least I got off at a reasonable hour. Last night I was the last server to clock out, which sucks when you go in at three thirty. With my bounty from the Derby I did okay.

My last table was a man around mid forties with his fourteen year old daughter. His wife was in Savannah with friends. They were such nice peeps! After dinner the dad said they were just going home and he was headed for his couch. He said one of his buddies had told him about a great show to watch on Netflix.

I almost opened my mouth to tell him what show he really he needed to watch when he said my favorite two words, "Breaking Bad."

I pulled out a chair and we talked for ten minutes about the show! He had only watched the pilot episode but just like me was hooked from the get go. I told him about my addiction to the show and shared all I had learned from creeping on the cast members via the Internet.

I would almost bet all the money I won in the Derby pool he is still watching now and is almost one in the morning.

 I did warn the guy what happened to me... finished the series early one morning and immediately started re watching episode one. His eyes lit up and totally agreed with me. There are so many facets to the story and is hard to catch the first time around. He had already watched the pilot episode twice.

Thanks to  California Chrome I made out okay and was so much fun talking "Breaking Bad" with someone else!

Working the opening shift tomorrow/today so I'd better peace out for now.

Life's good, sometimes bad.

 If it was never bad,  how would you know when it was good?

Til next time...COTTON

Friday, May 2, 2014

Just Another Day

I went out to run errands today before work. Traffic was a nightmare, guess because it was around lunchtime.

Unfortunately the first place I had to go was the evil cable company. Number one on my "Detest List" is Wells Fargo who refuses to modify our loan because we're four years from payoff. Number two is Verizon...another greedy corporate giant.  Number three is the cable company. A friend of Tim's got us a great deal on cable when he worked for them and we have everything bundled, landline, internet and cable. Cable I could do without especially since my younger son bought us Netflix but as sad a statement as it may sound, I have to have internet and land line. Internet is a must in these times and the land line is a failsafe for if our cell phones get cut off for late payment. It's only happened a couple of times but cell phones fall way below mortgage, insurance and utilities on my "Must Have" list.

Our cable company just went totally digital which means the fat back TV's in Massey and TJ's rooms now need a converter box. Generous to a fault (not) they offered free converter boxes for twelve months so I dropped by to get two. The place is tiny and usually only has two or three cars in the parking lot. Today the lot was full and had to park on the side pulling off onto the grass/mud mix.

I went inside and saw twenty five disgruntled faces stare at me as I walked in to get in line behind them. If they were giving away free cable I may have stayed but they weren't so I turned and walked back out the door as three more people walked in. I'll go by Monday early and try to be the first disgruntled face in the door.

I went back to the car and headed to the bank. I had a little over two hundred in my checking account and my check from cutting the front of the subdivision to cash. With what I made last night at work, cashing my check and cleaning my account and leaving just ten bucks in, I had $360 to give Tim to help pay the mortgage, also a week late. I was stopped at a light when my cell rang. It was Verizon.

I pulled into the next parking lot to answer. I did this because I know the drill with Verizon. It's an automated call and after going through the menu, gives you an option of "Press two if you have or are mailing a payment in the next seven days." That's my all time favorite option! It buys me seven days to scramble together a payment and bonus...the phones don't get cut off.

Seems like they're onto my trick, an actual person was calling. He said our payment was late. I responded, from my parking space that I just paid $150 last week leaving a balance of just $120 and couldn't they just be happy with THAT for a few days? Obviously I was paying so late last week that now was into next month's due.  Never one to mince words I told the dude my husband was looking for a job, we had one kid in college and two more living at home. I said "Here's the deal. You can wait until Monday and I'll make a payment or you can cross us off your list, drop us and we'll use walkie talkies or just yell real loud." The guy said that would be fine I could just post date The payment for Monday.

Yeah, right!

I told him when I had the money I would go to the Verizon store across the street from where I work and post it. Geez, is Verizon THAT hard up for money? I almost asked if the Verizon Giants were related to the Cottons because they sure seem about as desperate for money. He seemed satisfied with another payment Monday so would , as they always say "Update my records to show a payment due on Monday."

Ya Da Ya Da Ya Da...

I mean I KNOW we're late on payments every month but my reasoning is that they GET a payment every month, with a late charge bonus for their own fat selves and I'm talking Mortgage, insurance, cable, cell phones and utilities.

 Crap , since we've been broke we've paid so many late charges they should be sending us a "Thank You" note!

I got back home just in time to hang over the bathtub, wash my face and hair and throw on some work clothes. While I got ready, Tim went and deposited what I gave him and dropped off a check at "Hells Fargo" for the mortgage.

I kinda got irritated on the way to work and said "I'm tired of being broke and I'm tired of working six days a week."

It stopped my pity party in its tracks when he said "What, do you think I LIKE it?"

Sometimes you just have to vent, I did and so did Tim.

Then he drops me off and I go into work. Most all the servers I work with are around my own kids age. In other words, I work circles around them.

I don't want a gold star for it but for Pete's sake, can you NOT see a fifty four year old woman doing more work than five of you put together? My saving grace is a select few ARE hard workers, team players and keep me from going Postal. The other ones better hope they are off the day I snap.

I went in at three thirty, should have been the third person out of eight to leave but clocked out as the last two closing servers left.

Go figure!

Back to reality...

The mortgage albeit late, is paid. The gas isn't due to be cut off til Monday, neither are the cell phones. Freakin' cable is due but am working all weekend and know that we'll make it. Heck, we've made it this far..."Ain't no stopping us now."

Sometimes life gets you down, it's had us down for about four years now but have managed to survive.

Til next time...COTTON