Monday, June 30, 2014

What Are the Odds?

Woke up this morning totally exhausted from my double shift yesterday at the airport but feeling almost giddy about being able to make the mortgage payment. Tim cooked me a big breakfast and by noon was walking out the door to go back for another shift.

I found a parking spot four spaces from the front of the MARTA station entrance and took it as yet another good omen. My next good omen was making it onto the Sardine Shuttle five minutes before it began to pour rain.

Walked into work and hadn't walked ten feet before a friend of mine who is also a server there said "You got Shopped again."

You have GOT to be kidding me??

On my very first day of waiting tables on my own,  I got Shopped and was devastated to learn the score was 78 out of a possible 100.

The parent company I work for hires secret shoppers to come in posing as regular customers and rate their experience.

Number one, it was my very first shift and number two, I was pretty much faking it as I went.

The corporate big wigs weren't upset but seemed rather pleased that I scored that high being a brand new server working a really busy shift which happened to be under staffed.


When you work for a big corporation you can be fired if you do a lousy job on a Shopper Report. It made me more determined to do an even better job and felt okay that at least had been Shopped and most probably wouldn't happen again for quite a while or at least until I felt more secure about all my abilities as a server in a fine dining restaurant.

One week later, I get Shopped again! What are the odds of THAT happening? I guess pretty good if you're a COTTON.

The manager was eating his dinner and spoke to me as I went by to clock in and said "What have you done to have the gods conspire against you? You got Shopped again."

I think I threw up in my mouth a little bit but then he said "You did a good job though, got a 93."

Another "WHEW"!!

My first shop was on June fifteenth, my second on June twenty third.

I asked the manager if I could see the Shopper Report and he printed me off a copy.

I remembered the woman. She was pregnant, flying out of the country on a business trip.

It really pumped up my self esteem. I only missed two things, asking if she was under any time constraints and pointing out that gratuity was already added although mentioned it was stated several times on her check and receipt.

Geez, she went into some detail!

Here's my favorite part:

"Kelly was incredibly sincere and very knowledgeable about the menu. I felt like she was there to take care of me and wanted to make sure I returned which is a rare feeling when you're eating in an atmosphere like the airport."

Heck yeah, GO ME!!

Looks like fretting over learning everything paid off! She also wrote:

"She also asked me if I was going to save room for dessert. I asked what they had and she described all the gelatos (it was impressive she named off all the flavors!)."

My general manager told me that Robby  (one of the founding owners of Fifth Group) called to say this report sounded like I had been working for Ecco for years, not weeks.

Go me AGAIN!

I'm simply not used to good things happening but looks like I'd better change that perception.

We started out slow tonight but as the evening progressed got busy as European departure times approached. The eighteen percent gratuity I made from charges was $182 and will go onto my next paycheck. Extra gratuity over eighteen percent they give me in cash and left with eighty bucks in my pocket.

Yes please, and thank you!

The worries over training, the massive amount of studying and even the added travel time to and from work has finally paid off.

I can finally say, without (well maybe a little) doubt we have finally turned the corner and everything will be just fine.

Seems like KARMA finally rolled back around.

Tumbling into bed, waking up by six fifteen to be at the airport by eight thirty to clock in. I'll get off around six and be home in time to work in the yards for a while.

Loving life about now...COTTON

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Talk About a Life Changer

I'm a firm believer in omens, even more so after reading "The Alchemist". I volunteered to work a double shift today at the airport. They've asked me to several times but considering  am now on day thirty six of my work week have managed to avoid it thus far. They are short staffed right now because the other server they hired is still in training and a couple of other servers are going on vacations. Since I dodged the double bullet yesterday decided I should  "Woman Up" and help them out.

Left the house about ten minutes later than I wanted this morning but breezed up the interstate, found a close spot quickly in the MARTA lot and made the 8:00 train. The next one wasn't until 8:30 (the time I was due to clock in) and took it all as a good omen.

Squeezed into the last seat available on the "Sardine Shuttle" and made it through the security gates at the International Terminal with fifteen minutes to spare.

It's beautiful and serene place, only been open a little over a year and has a peaceful feeling to it. It's a hassle getting there sometimes, have to leave the house at LEAST ninety minutes before my shift and am certainly sleep deprived whenever I walk in but beginning to like it more and more now that I'm getting the hang of it all.

We open at ten and things started out really slow. By noon was starting to think the day might be a bust, but that's always the way when's a crap shoot.

By two was glad I was at least was working a double and could maybe make some money on the evening shift which started at three thirty.

Right about three thirty I got seated with a party of four out on the patio. A big burly man, not overly attractive but with a beautiful wife and two gorgeous daughters in their mid twenties. They were flying to Greece to spend a month.

Here's the thing. If you've got the money to spend a month in Greece (after flying to Paris first) you're probably not pinching pennies.

They were very nice and think I did a pretty good job with them. I took a picture for them with the husband's phone and even my daughter would have been impressed, it turned out pretty good. I told them, when I took it my daughter said I took bad pictures but they liked the one I took. They spent well over two hundred dollars and the eighteen percent added gratuity was $36.00. He told me everything had been great, the food was phenomenal but the service I had given them was what really made it quite awesome. He left me an extra hundred dollars.


The Karma ball was rolling my direction. It wasn't real busy but had several other good tables.

My manager (bad cop) came up to me around seven and said "I bet you wish you would have worked a double yesterday instead of today."

I pulled out the receipt from my Greece bound travelers and showed him. He simply said "Nice job!"

It never got crazy busy and my little feet felt like they were walking on upturned spikes but all said and done was glad I had bitten the "Double Bullet".

At one point in the evening my manager came up to me and calmly said "So I'm BAD Cop?" I asked who told him that but simply chuckled and walked off.

Yes it was a tiring day. I got up at six thirty and got home at eleven thirty but felt like I was floating on air.

It wasn't even a busy day but had $181.00 of  my 18% tips going onto my next paycheck and made an extra $175.00 which I walked out with, after tip out.

This has been a "Life Changing Day."

This is exactly what we have been waiting for , for over five years! This job will pay our mortgage in a little over a week. The rest will go towards other bills and helping us to not only "Play"catch up but "GET" caught up.

The gravy is, I still have Mama Lucia's two days a week for living expenses and peace of mind, sleeping until forty five minutes before having to clock in and knowing the job like the back of my hand.

It's been a five year journey I hope we never have to travel again.

If I could change the past, I probably wouldn't.

It's sometimes felt like life was almost killing me but it wasn't. It was teaching me many valuable lessons.

I'm not the best person in the world and have many, many faults and flaws but try to be a good person.

When you try to be a good person and trust in God regardless of flaws and faults,  have faith and continue to strive for a goal you will reach it.

When you try to be a good person other good people will help you out.

We've had so much help from SO many people it makes my tiny head swim.

I feel dizzy tonight.

It's not like I'll wake up tomorrow a millionaire flying to Greece for a month after spending two weeks in Paris but will feel like it.

Number one, NEVER GIVE UP.

Number two, always be grateful for what you have not for what you want.

Number three, nobody said life would be easy and if they did you should cross them off your friends list.

Number four,

Oh we've had some problems, too numerous to count but been blessed the entire way by a gaggle of hosts.

The Host Himself, The Big Guy and so many others.

My wonderful sister, my rock and sounding board. My brother who is so much like Diddy with an occasional  cigar and heart of gold. My brother in law who has helped us time and time again. Friends from my childhood, high school and college years, always having my back. My employers at Mama Lucia's who didn't want me to leave them five days a week but understood why I had to. Blog readers who have not only followed my journey but encouraged me. Even strangers I've never met but hope to one day. Relatives I barely know but have stepped up and in.

I keep trying to tell myself this can't be happening and to not expect good things but just be prepared for the next, final shoe to drop.  But I'm tired of being a semi doubter.

The earth is round, and eventually what goes around comes around.

I feel like we've circled it countless times before but maybe, just maybe this is OUR time.

I don't want or feel the need to be rich, just simply be comfortable.

Thanks to God, my family, friends, blog readers and all of you out here in cyber space...

We're going to make it after all!

Til next time...COTTON

Friday, June 27, 2014

Pacing Myself

Just completed day thirty four of my work week. I woke up before seven this morning, by now force of habit but stayed in bed until noon alternating between the news and burrowing under the pillows.

It's near the end of the month so I got up, put on my "Yard Attire" and putted up to the front of the subdivision to cut the grass in order to get that sixty dollar check on the last day of the month.

The above picture was when cutting at the cemetery where my folks are buried but my outfit's always the same...shorts, flip flops and a tank top with a bathing suit top on underneath. The tank top comes off and serves as a towel to wipe sweat and grime off my face.

I finished in record time, two hours. The decking on my Johnny Dear broke just as I got through cutting and had to put it back on with only one of the two bolts remaining to park it by the curb. Got out my trusty friend, Mr. Weed Eater and cut both culverts on either side of the road. The line ran out with about two feet of tall grass left to go so just pulled the rest by hand.

Putted back to the house with the decking scraping and parked my Dear Johnny back in the garage. Ate some left overs from last night's dinner, drank a cold Co-Cola for some "Pep in my step" and headed for the shower, covered from head to toe with dirt and grass clippings.

Ironed a work shirt, pulled on my skirt and put on some make up in under ten minutes. Left the house at four twenty and clocked in at four thirty.

Walked out the door at eleven and Zach picked me up by the curb out back of the restaurant. While waiting I checked my phone for messages. The airport job had sent a text wanting to know if I could work a double shift on Saturday instead of just my scheduled day shift?

For Pete's sake!!

Then I thought about how I was only three hundred dollars short on our mortgage payment due on Monday. I sent them back a text:

"Still at Mama Lucias's now but would love nothing more than to work a double tomorrow."

I had to MAKE myself hit "Send".

It will mean almost five hundred dollars or maybe even more and simply couldn't turn it down.

My back and "Weed Eating" arm are killing me but my airport uniform is ready to go and all I have to do is swap out my Mama's  duffel bag stuff into my clear plastic airport bag and will be good to go come seven o'clock Saturday morning.

How much longer I can work like this is a mystery to even me but know I can and WILL do it. I've never made the kind of money I've been making these past two weeks and the thrill of finally getting to the point of almost being sort of caught up and able to see can soon even be getting ahead makes my mind race and me feel dizzy. Well maybe the dizzy part is sheer exhaustion but in a good way.

I'm almost through with The Alchemist, and came across this passage recently.

"This is what we call love, the boy said, seeing that the wind was close to granting what he requested. When you are loved, you can do anything in creation. When you are loved, there's no need at all to understand what's happening, because everything happens within you, and even men can turn themselves into the wind. As long as the wind helps, of course."

I am so loved and blessed by God, family, friends, employers and even strangers. They are my wind and all conspire in helping me.

So I'll tumble into bed, wake up and work a double shift. Then when I finally drag myself back to that MARTA train late Saturday night will have covered a mortgage payment.

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, so just call me "The Bionic Woman".


Til next time, a truly blessed COTTON

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Time For Another Hat Switch Again

Sometimes you can just tell when it's gonna be a great day. Today was one of them. Tim woke me up with breakfast in bed, a steaming cup of coffee , OJ and even a glass of my favorite Nestle's Quik. He had my work shirt ironed and ready to go and left the house right on time. I've started leaving an hour and a half instead of two hours early since learning all my nifty shortcuts to the commute. I rolled into the MARTA train station right on time and slowly stalked a TSA worker from the station to his car. I had to clock in at one thirty and hopped on the train at 12:59. By 1:06  was sitting on what I call the "Sardine Shuttle" to the International terminal. I got through security (using yet another shortcut I've learned) and got to work ten minutes early.

I'm beginning to feel more comfortable with every shift I work and today was no exception. I clocked in and got to work doing my opening side work and helping to clean up a bit. For the first thirty minutes I have opening duties and then begin to take tables.

I noticed my general manager talking to a woman I met at the Midtown location while attending a beverage class before starting training. I knew she was a big wig for Fifth Group, our parent company. She was sitting at a table with another person and they both had menus in front of them.

I was immediately relieved to see the menus. I thought maybe she was there to speak with me about my less than stellar "Shopper Report." She was just there to speak with the managers and executive Chef. I knew she knew about my Shop because Chef had told me so. As I passed her table on the way to greet one of my own, stopped to say hello and apologize about my crappy Shopper's Report.

She was extremely nice, chuckled and said there was nothing to be sorry about. She said getting Shopped on your first week is hard and I did just fine under the circumstances.


I KNEW it was gonna be a good day, even my hair had cooperated with me this morning!

There were two big flights leaving tonight, one for Amsterdam and another for Paris. I only made one mistake tonight with a credit card but the customer never knew about it and my "Bad Cop"manager fixed it for me. He even gave me more tables than he usually does and made pretty great money.

Around nine "Bad Cop" told me to pick up table 230 so I hustled right over. The guy kinda looked familiar but what do I know? I greeted him and he smiled and said hello to me as well. I asked if he was in a hurry (a must) and replied not at all, he was waiting for his flight to Paris. I took him his cocktail and asked if he had any questions about the menu or wanted to order an appetizer, naming a few of the more popular ones.  He shook his head and said "I'll just have Mama Lucia's Chicken Lucia."

That's a dish we serve at my OTHER job. Now I knew why he looked so familiar, he eats with me at the restaurant  in Newnan, where I live.  I laughed and said, "Fancy meeting YOU here!" Super nice, quite handsome man and was good to see him again.

My manager came up to me after I put the man's order in and said "The man at table 230 asked for a table when he came in and said he only wanted to eat if it was with the woman with short hair out on the patio. I thought he wanted to sit next to the customer on the patio, a woman eating with short hair so directed him to a table by her when he stopped me and said , No I want the SERVER with short hair to wait on me. He said he knew you from a Newnan restaurant and another place as well."

For Pete's sake! Now I knew where I ALSO knew him from.

A while back I was working part time for a Mattress store as a mid week manager as well as waiting tables at Mama Lucia's. I worked by myself Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. It wasn't a busy location and was in the middle of a hot summer. It was a discount, no frills store and didn't run the A/C to help keep costs down for the consumer. It didn't help ME hot flashes alone are enough to melt the witch from the Wizard of Oz.

I worked ten hours days with no way to go anywhere for lunch so simply brought food with me from home and snacked when no one was in the store. But since they docked me thirty minutes for lunch, usually kicked back on a nice plush $1400.00 memory foam king sized mattress and read a book for thirty minutes. One hot summer day no one had come in for a time so took my thirty minute reading time. Somehow, someway I nodded off and didn't hear a customer come in. I was awakened by "Don't YOU look all comfy? That must be a great mattress!"

To  make it even worse, he knew me from Mama Lucia's.

Fast forward a few months...

I was at Mama Lucia's waiting tables one night when  woman sat at my table, ordered a glass of wine and said she was waiting on her husband. About thirty minutes later her husband came in so I asked him what he would like? He replied "A king size memory foam mattress." His wife looked at him like he was crazy (which was exactly what I was thinking) when he looked at his wife and told her I also worked at the Mattress store across the street. He said "You remember me don't you?"

I didn't remember him from Adam but enthusiastically said "SURE I do!"

Then the bomb dropped...

He said "I came in that day and you were SOUND asleep on that big daddy foam mattress with a book across your chest!"

Oops, NOW I remembered him!

I never got on another mattress to read the entire rest of the time I worked there.

So now a year later, working for a new restaurant in the International Terminal of the world's busiest airport this guy walks by, sees me and requests my table!

Yes, it WAS a good day! I had my first request table EVER at the new digs.

When I took him his check told him it was wonderful to see him again and apologized for snoozing on a mattress when he came into the mattress store. He extended his hand and said, "My name is Paul and it was good to see you again! Don't worry about the mattress thing, it was great advertisement for how comfortable the mattress was. I'm just glad you weren't selling toilets!"

You know, I couldn't MAKE this stuff up if I tried!

I didn't get off til almost eleven and got home shortly after midnight but made over two hundred dollars and even had my first "Request Table!"

Switching hats again on Thursday and Friday, working here in Newnan at Mama Lucia's.

"Remember that  wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure. You've got to find the treasure, so that everything else you have learned along the way can make sense." (The Alchemist)

So I'm just a "Server." But you know what? I'm pretty stinking good at it. It's all just sales and marketing,  not only enjoy it but have helped raise three kids with it and never hate going into my job.

Once again realizing how completely blessed I am, even with all the difficulties we've been through.

"One is loved because one is loved. No reason is needed for loving." (yet again The Alchemist)

I am loved and loved by many. I am blessed with family, friends and doing something I enjoy along the way.

Writing will always be my first passion, but HECK, I'm doing THAT along the way too!

Til next time, a finally Contented COTTON.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Feeling Like Myself Again

These past few weeks have been excruciatingly hard for me, and mean it. I ventured out from my comfort zone to make a change, wondering the entire time if I had made a mistake?

I'm still flustered and overwhelmed, but now in a good way.

I'm commuting five days a week to a job twenty five miles away, in a borrowed vehicle none the less and feel guilty every day I climb in to my neighbor's borrowed truck. When I've gotten back home after work this past week and deposited the truck back to his driveway, I got out of it over two hundred dollars richer.

That's huge for us.

I still have lots to learn but am soaking it in as fast as they teach it to me. I still make mistakes but so far nothing monumental and work as hard as I can every time I'm there. I haven't been late once for a shift and often stay late to help. Trust me, I can use the practice!

Tomorrow is my first payday since beginning to wait tables and should have enough deposited directly into my account to cover half of a mortgage payment and is with only three days of serving on the floor, with a limited section and not nearly as many tables as the other servers.

"We are afraid of losing what we have, whether it's our life or our possessions and property. But this fear evaporates when we understand that our life stories and history of the world were written by the same hand." (The Alchemist)

In between zooming from job to job have been reading "The Alchemist" and may sound crazy but been quite enlightening.

I was so terrified about leaving my comfort job right now,  which I love but simply isn't enough for the debt accrued.

"And, when you can't go back, you have to worry only about the best way of moving forward." (The Alchemist)

I'm moving forward in the only way I can and couldn't have done it without my comfort zone job albeit begrudgingly,  allowed me to do so.

I will be and am, eternally grateful to them.

"When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it." (The Alchemist)

I've had God on my side. I've had family on my side. I've had friends and even Blog readers on my side. You have all conspired and INSPIRED.

While reading this amazing book this past week have often thought was written expressly  for me at this exact given moment in my life.

As far as moving away from my Mama Lucia's family this next quote hit the nail on the head.

"He had to choose between something he had become accustomed to and something he wanted to have."

I don't want or need millions. I simply want to do what is best for my family and is currently keeping our house, less than four years away from being paid off.

"The future belongs to God, and it is only He who reveals it, under extraordinary circumstances. How do I guess at the future? Based on the omens of the present. The secret is here in the present. If you pay attention to the present, you can improve upon it. And, if you improve on the present, what comes later will also be better. Forget about the future, and live each day according to the teachings, confident that God loves His children. Each day, in itself, brings with it an eternity." ( once again The Alchemist)

May sound like a dummy (won't be the first OR last time) giving so much credence  to written words in a work of fiction  but can't deny how much they speak to me.

Crashing early, hoping to wake up with fewer wrinkles and gray hair.

As my daughter so wisely taught me "I got this!"

Til next time...COTTON



Monday, June 23, 2014

Hello My Name is Kelly and I'm a Blogaholic

Caught the midnight train out of the airport tonight back to the parking lot. I have enough grease on my face from sweat to fry a basket of fries. Went in at one thirty and walked out after eleven thirty.

Walked through the door of my house a little after one and have to be up by six to work a morning shift.

So what do I do?

That'd be Blog.

I'm used to working nights, been doing it for well over thirty years and can never simply come home and go straight to bed. I'm just not wired that way.

So we only had four servers on tonight, which technically starts at three. On top of that, the manager came up and told me I had been shopped.

Corporations hire secret shoppers to go into a restaurant posing as customers but rate their experience and server.

For Pete's sake, I've only been on the floor a week and got SHOPPED already?!

He told me we'd go over it later on and left it at that.

It was like somebody suddenly put a tiny sharp rock in my shoe and limped around on it all night.

We didn't get busy until around six but once flights got delayed passengers streamed in the door and didn't stop until we closed at ten. We were down three servers so took the four of us until after eleven thirty to finish. Two of the servers had been there since eight thirty AM so at least felt lucky I wasn't them.

We have two managers. I call them Good Cop and Bad Cop. Bad Cop worked tonight. I truly like him but is a stickler (which is a good thing) about steps of service.

I realize they are all watching me being the Old / Newbie on the floor but Bad Cop just makes me nervous. I think he enjoys it. He's never been anything but nice and professional,  has taught me a lot since starting there but makes me a nervous wreck which in turn tends to make me make more mistakes.

I didn't mention the shopper report until I clocked out to leave. I asked if he would just tell me the score?  I think he said Seventy Eight. (out of a hundred) Once I heard the number Seventy come out of his mouth my mind went numb.

DANG, isn't that a "C" and if recall correctly from my high school report cards is considered "Average"?

He did make the remark I hadn't done as bad as it sounded and would go over it later with me.

Okay, I'm home now and had a beer (or two) looking back over  my blogs and thinking back on how nervous and stressed I've been.

I stepped WAY out of the box with this job and knew from the jump was actually more like a LEAP but certainly didn't expect to get shopped the very first week on the floor.

They haven't had a shopper in quite a few months so my ole Cotton luck kicked right in as soon as I started the job and got the next one!

It's not like he told me I was in trouble or not to come in tomorrow or wrote me up but sure felt like a kick in the teeth.

I slumped my way to the Plane Train still feeling that little rock in my shoe and realizing  was also going to miss the eleven forty MARTA train and have to sit for another twenty minutes waiting on the "Midnight Train."

You know what? This just makes me more determined!

Step out of the box I did, but don't EVEN think you're going to stuff my tiny self back into it.

You want "Steps of Service" followed?

You got it!

You want to see how many new tricks this ole dog can learn? Hang around and be amazed.

Okay I feel better now, it's out of my system.

Tumbling into bed for a now four hour nap and doing it all again, even BETTER next time

Til next time...COTTON

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Getting Better Every day

Through trial and error have learned a new shortcut every day. It's a must to have my uniform clean, ironed and ready to go. If it's a week day I have to add fifteen minutes for the fight for a spot to park at MARTA. If it's a weekend, spaces are wide open without business commuters. On the other hand, during the week the MARTA train runs every five minutes or so...weekends and after eight only every twenty which is a long time to wait with time constraints heading into work and seem even longer when you're tired and ready to leave AFTER work.

I've learned a short cut to the Plane Train heading back to the domestic terminal from the restaurant when I leave after my shift and also learned an excellent way to save time once I get off the Plane Train and have to fight the masses exiting to go up the three escalators to the terminal where I catch the MARTA train. I go to the far left side and wait for the Plane Train, getting on the first car. When the Plane Train finally stops at ground transportation and get off, am exiting the one nearest the escalators and can scurry up first like a skinny rat. I've learned to watch the time and if it's a weekend or after eight PM know that if I can hit the MARTA station on the hour, twenty after of forty after can make the next train back to the parking lot without having to wait an extra twenty minutes.

BAM! Looks like I'm quickly learning the ropes of navigating public transportation as well as the ropes of being a brain surgeon.

I'm also feeling more comfortable about talking with tables, suggesting items (including wine, beer and cocktails) and beginning to feel familiar enough to even suggestively upsell.

It's completely different from working in a street side restaurant. No mad rush at lunch or dinner time. Everything depends on flights, departure times and possible delays.

It's also fascinating to me when ask where they are headed to or coming back from?

Case in point:

Just today I waited on a family going on a Mediterranean cruise, another going to Paris, a couple headed to Amsterdam, a family taking their young twin daughters to Japan for their birthday and an older couple headed to Greece to meet up with their son, daughter in law and children before flying to the island of Crete for a month. I also waited on a mother and young son heading back home to London but refrained from my usual comment of "Tell the Queen we said Howdy!"

I'm on day number "Can't even tell you" in a row of working but actually feel pretty good. My husband's been great, knows my horrible eating habits and makes me breakfast every morning before I leave for work. I shove a banana into my clear plastic purse to eat as a snack and have even grown from a size Zero to a size One in pants.

"Baby Steps" but at least gaining a bit of much needed weight.

Funny story about my plastic clear purse.

When you work for a huge corporation running  stores and restaurants at the airport most require (and give you) a clear bag to keep personal items in. It's mostly for theft protection and totally get it but is the ugliest thing I've ever owned, besides our bulldog, Charlie.

So am sitting on the International shuttle the other day to go to work. Lucky for me was a quiet day and made it on. Passengers get first dibs and if you're an employee sometimes get kicked off and have to wait for the next shuttle

I was riding with two women  headed to Europe for vacation. My phone buzzed in my hideously looking clear bag and took it out to answer a text.

One of the women said "Now THAT'S a cute clever purse!" The other woman nodded and said  "You don't even have to scrounge around to find where things can just SEE them!"

I told her thought that was most probably the point when my employers gave it to me, so THEY could see what I WAS carrying.

One of them finally said "Oh my goodness."


The rest of the ride was  in silence.

I'm getting closer though. Every shift I leave making at LEAST two Franklin's and finally not simply spinning wheels but moving forward.

With this total blessing of of my new job and comfort of knowing I still have my other job to pad the kitty, can say without doubt...

"I'm going to make it after all."

Til next time...COTTON

Friday, June 20, 2014

Most Excellent Week, Even with all the Bumps and Bruises

Made it through the week, albeit beating myself up.

First I tore my knees up missing the step off the shuttle at the airport.

Then like an even BIGGER dummy twisted my ankle simply walking out the front door of my house on my way to work.

Then like a HUGE dummy, the next day left my cell phone in the airport public restroom. It was long gone when I ran back five minutes later.

I was off on Thursday from the airport but worked at my home restaurant here in Newnan. My knees were still sore but the pain from my ankle made me forget about them.

I got to work for my lunch shift and it wasn't busy yet so called the airport Lost and Found to see if maybe, just maybe someone had turned my iPhone in. Took me thirty minutes to get through but believe it or not, They Had It! I had called Tim at home and told him to send a text to my phone saying "I work at Ecco, concourse F in the international terminal. Please return my phone." My screen was locked but when I get a text it appears on the screen. The guy at the airport asked if I worked at the airport and when I told him I worked at Ecco said "Yep, we got it!"

I was BEYOND thrilled. Got off around three thirty and had to go by the Dept. of Labor to report I had indeed passed all the probationary tests and was officially hired at a new job. I've been getting an Unemployment check from my old part time job but now no longer needed it. The government assistance was the only thing keeping our heads from totally going under but now felt proud as Pop going in to talk with my recruiter to tell her I had a new job!

Of course it's a government office so had to sit for thirty minutes before she saw me. She is a really nice lady and helped me a lot. She was the one who actually talked me into making a resume, even though I was "Just a server". I had to submit a resume for the airport job and had attended two classes at the DOL about how to make your resume stand out.

Papers were signed and faxed. It was official, I was off the government payroll! Some (millions of) dishonest people try to linger and suck the system dry but I for one was elated about it.

I worked on the floor at the new place just four days this week and made enough for almost half a mortgage payment, which isn't small when you have a fifteen year mortgage.

JEEZ, just think what I can make when I totally learn everything and have a full section of tables!!

It's not easy for me. It's all brand new, totally overwhelming but most people there have been a huge help and think they realize I'm a hard worker.

I wake up most days not even knowing what day it is but know I have to be at work SOMEWHERE and better get a move on.

This new job will most definitely pay most of our mortgage in one week. Working the other two days at my home restaurant will pay for groceries, gas, staples and dog food.

Tim has a lead on a new job, close to home and only waiting on the background check.

I don't want to jinx myself but actually think, finally think after over five years of struggling we may have a real shot at not only getting caught up but moving ahead.

It's an absolutely WONDERFUL feeling!

I woke up this morning by eight o'clock after crashing on the couch before eleven last night.

When you wake up feeling positive about your life it's like you can't wait to get started on your day!

I took Zach to work , went by Tractor Supply and bought the pups some flea, tick, mosquito repellent and came home feeling like a queen.

I changed into my Daisy Dukes, bathing suit top and cut grass for over two hours in ninety degree heat. I got out my weed eater and trimmed the entire back yard then raked up all the grass and put it in the fire pit.

It felt good to be "Me" again!

My wonderful daughter posted a quotation the other day on my FB wall after a particularly bad day.

Holy Crap...this was me!

I found out later from her it came from the book "The Alchemist". She brought the book home for me to read this past weekend. Working seven days don't have much spare time but am almost halfway through and reading it with a highlighter to mark significant quotes...and there are many.

The first thing which struck me like a slap in the face was:

"He had to choose between something he had become accustomed to and something he wanted to have."

I love working at Mama Lucia's seven minutes from my house. Yes they are cray cray but love me for some unknown reason and I them... but  as "The Alchemist" also said "Sometimes there's just no way to hold back the river."

We were drowning in debt and the bills were still piling in.

They were both upset when told them I had taken another part time job. Len (the chef) was particularly ticked. His wife talked him in to keeping me on mentioning we have been through the wringer and just didn't think it would be right considering our circumstances.


Len has finally somewhat settled down after a few tense shifts and Barb has my back, wanting my family to succeed even though it means them losing me four days a week.

I came across this quote tonight in the book, which sums up how this family feels about me after working for them for over four years. You may have to read the book to get the gist, but isn't a bad idea either.

"I'm leaving today," said the boy. "I have the money I need to buy my sheep. And you have the money you need to go to Mecca."
The old man said nothing.
"Will you give me your blessing?" asked the boy. "You have helped me." The man continued to prepare his tea, saying nothing. Then he turned to the boy.

"I am proud of you" he said. "You brought a new feeling into my crystal shop. But you know that I'm not going to go to Mecca. Just as you know that you're not going to buy your sheep."
"Who told you that?" asked the boy, startled.
"Maktub," said the old crystal merchant.
And he gave the boy his blessing.

(Maktub loosely means "It is written". I helped THIER crystal shop and brought a new feeling into it. Len may never get his sailboat and Barb may never get away with killing Len, but both know I'm not looking to immediately be back on top but have to do what I must do.Let's go ahead and make me sad, and  quote this next one.)

"He left without saying good-bye to the crystal merchant. He didn't want to cry with other people there. He was going to miss this the place and all the good things he had learned. He was more confident in  himself, though, and felt as though he could conquer the world."

Felt great to feel positive today. It's been a while.

Rode my Johnny Dear, worked in the yards and knocked out another shift at work tonight.

Heading back to the crazy airport world tomorrow, now today.

Life is good.

Til later...COTTON

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Come on Karma, One More Time !

Didn't even know what day of the week it was when I woke up but knew I had to work somewhere. I asked Tim what day it was and then at least knew it was an airport day.

My daughter gave me "The Alchemist" and have been reading it with a highlighter to mark things significant. I came across this quote early on and precisely sums up my choice to step out of the box and take this new second job.

"He had to choose between something he had become accustomed to and something he wanted to have."

Our financial struggle these past five years have taken a toll on not only me but my marriage and felt the waters quickly rising. It's been a tough adjustment and one of the hardest things I've ever done but know it's for the best and with each shift, feel a tiny bit more comfortable and hugely amazed at what international travelers not only spend on food but tip as well.

So now that I knew what day it was,  got up and got ready once again for my trek to Concourse F or as I call it...Yemen. Working at international adds at the very least twenty five minutes to my travel time once I get into the airport.

I left out the front door to go to my next door husband's house where my borrowed little truck sits, and going down the first step of our  front porch twisted my ankle. I wear Dansko's for work. They are great (extremely expensive) shoes. My sister gave me a pair about six years ago for Christmas. They are sturdy but add almost two inches. My foot turned to the side and almost fell but caught myself and continued to limp to the borrowed vehicle not wanting to run late.

It was killing me by the time I got off the shuttle to the international terminal but at least took my mind off my skinned up knees.

Got all my opening work done for my shift and since it was slow took my thirty minute break to scarf down my free meal before it got busy. I stuck my phone in my back pocket and went to the food court to eat. Got me two Chili Steaks, onion rings and a Co-Cola from The Varsity while scrolling through emails.

I checked in on Facebook since WiFi is free at the airport and even took this cutesy pic of my healthy snack!

I left the food court and stopped by the restroom before heading back to work.

I broke down and bought some jeans that actually fit me the other day and the back pockets are tiny, just like the pants. When I pulled them down to pee my phone almost dropped out of my back pocket so put it on the shelf in the stall.

Got back to work, clocked in and went to put my phone back in my bag  under the counter.

Not a GOOD FEELING immediately struck me! I raced back across the food court, not five minutes later but my phone was gone.

I raced BACK to work and tried to get it off my mind. No time to worry about it now, it was a done deal and the restaurant was starting to get busy with several delayed flights.

I didn't get off until after eleven but went downstairs to the information booth and spoke with a gentleman. He said Lost and Found closes at seven but gave me a number to call tomorrow (now today). Earlier one of my co workers had stopped by the bar right across from the restrooms and asked if a phone had been turned in when she took a restroom break but got a "No."

I limped down to the Plane Train to go back to domestic and ride MARTA back to my borrowed ride. The one good thing about getting off late is the Plane Train is pretty empty and I get to sit down. When I left F Concourse was alone so pulled off my shoe and sock to look at my ankle.

I'll be needing to finding an Ace bandage before I go to Mama Lucia's to work in the morning. My ankle is the only fat part of my body right now, black and blue to boot!

I have faith in my fellow man. Someone will turn in my phone and will get it back. I have to work a day shift at Mama Lucia's tomorrow (today) but will call the airport to check and see if maybe Karma has smiled on me once again.

If not at least is the only cell  phone we have with insurance on it, not that it matters much. I've heard nightmare stories about how lame the insurance is and meant to drop it a while back. If the phone is gone it's no ones fault but mine.

A phone can be replaced, although can't really afford that right now. But I lived for over forty years without one and can do it again.

My main concern now is my ankle which is pretty painful and have to work Thursday and Friday at my home restaurant then returning to the airport first thing Saturday morning by eight thirty.

I've said it before and will say it again, "You can't make this stuff up." My life is a comedy of errors but at least still think of it that way.

Limping to bed...COTTON

Monday, June 16, 2014


Going on almost a month since my last day off but still feeling pretty good for an old woman. I had to be at the airport by one thirty today but had everything ironed, ready and packed up so slept in an extra twenty minutes.

I won't do THAT again!

Left with just an hour and thirty minutes before my shift started. The MARTA lot was packed but lately have been really lucky snagging a spot close to the entrance.

Not today.

Finally I saw a guy come out of the station and head to the parking lot. I caught up with him walking down an aisle and asked if he was leaving? He said yes but was way at the end of the lot.

Down to one hour before clock in. Beggars can't be choosers so asked if he wanted a ride to his car? The sun was blazing hot and I was sweating just sitting behind the wheel of my next door husband's little truck. He was a pretty big dude and didn't hesitate to take me up on my offer.

Unfortunately he was correct about being "Way at the end" but at least knew I had a spot waiting. He got out of the truck, thanked me for the lift and got into his car.

Down to forty five minutes I halfway jogged (uphill of course) and ran down the steps to the train, barely making it between the doors of the train as they closed. Five minutes later I got out and hoofed it quickly outside to the shuttle bus, out of breath AND under thirty minutes to spare.

My luck changed for the better (a feeling I'm definitely not used to) when the shuttle took off for the international terminal five minutes later. Sometimes they wait to fill the bus and sometimes if  travelers outnumber employees they ask you to step off and wait for the next shuttle.

The shuttle bus pulled up to the international terminal about twelve minutes later and mentally patted myself on the back for making such good time.

I was on my cell while on the shuttle, bragging on Facebook about what great time I was making, which meant I had my glasses on. I was all worried about how long the line may be at security and stood up to get off the shuttle bus quickly.

Here's the thing. I can't read squat without my peepers on but can't see to walk WITH them on.

I forgot to push them up onto the top of my head when I stepped down off the bus and couldn't tell how far down the step off was to the curb.

I learned very quickly was WAY off on my judgement of the step down and fell flat onto the palms of both hands and knees on the concrete. The humiliation made me jump up quickly and at least ONE dude asked if I was okay.

I shook my head up and down to let him know I was okay when immediately remembered I was wearing the brand new jeans I'd just bought at WalMart. (since all my other jeans were five years old and sagged like a bag on my now emaciated looking ninety eight pound frame)

I could feel one of my knees bleeding but Thank The Lord the new jeans were okay. I spent thirteen dollars on those jeans!!

I shoved my glasses back onto the top of my head, limped through the doors and headed for security.

Made it through and walked into the atrium with enough time to spare to sit in a chair for four minutes to let my sweat evaporate in the nice cool air conditioned terminal.  I wiped the knees of my brand new jeans off with spit on my fingers, both had marks on them from where I fell on the concrete.

You know, I don't have to make stuff up! My life is a comedy of errors.

Unfortunately USA was playing in the World Cup this afternoon and killed business. Slowest I've ever seen it since starting there but still walked out a hundred dollars richer.

I have to be at the restaurant by eight thirty tomorrow morning and not sleeping one minute past the time that alarm goes off.

On the upside will get off around five or six PM and to me, will be like a day off.

Til next time...COTTON


So yesterday I took my big "Final Exam" at the new place. I stayed up until three AM the night before studying and making a cheat sheet for a couple of things thought I may forget, just in case.

I left the house a little after six thirty and got there in time to cram for thirty more minutes before clocking in at eight thirty. The general manager doesn't come in til after twelve thirty so once again just followed another server and asked tons of questions, taking notes one more time.

Around three he pulled me to the side and handed me a ten page typewritten test. Once I started taking it immediately felt better about my chances of passing. I knew most all the answers and gave them with great detail. Out of all ten pages there were about four questions which stumped me. One of the best servers came by the table where I was and asked if I needed any help? I told him not so far but to come back when I got to the wine section, my weakest area.

What the Heck? I even knew THOSE answers, luckily because it asked to describe three different dry,crisp white wines in detail as if talking to a guest. I had started with white wines when first beginning to study and at least had those down pretty well.

"We have a nice Sauvignon Blanc from Cassablanca Valley, Chile with a nice brassy finish with notes of citrus, melons and pears or maybe you'd like the Domaine Fournier, our Sav Blanc from France with huge notes of apple and grass. Another nice selection could be Weingut Hiedler, a Gruner Veltliner from the Kamptal region of Austria.


I remembered the wine from Chile had a brassy tone because Gus Frenz, the Los Pollos chicken dude who had Walter White making meth for him in Breaking Bad was from Chile and certainly had BRASS cajones. I remembered  Veltliner was from Austria because it's where the Von Trapp's were from in The Sound of Music. I knew Domaine Fournier was from France simply because it "Sounded French."

So I'm no wine Sommelier, but at least it's a start. Baby steps!

It took me a little over an hour to complete the test and never even needed my little cheat sheet. I gave it to the GM and he said I could leave to go home. He told me to clock in as a server on Sunday and they would start me with a one table section. Hey! One's better than none.

I clocked in today at one thirty and did some sidework, catching the morning crew up by polishing glasses and silverware, filling the ice bin and folding linens for tables.

Around two thirty the hostess came into the kitchen and told me I had a table. I went out and greeted seven guys, all musicians with guitar cases in tow.'re gonna start me out with a seven top?

Then the next thing a new server hates hearing came out of one guy's mouth.

"We'll all need separate checks."

Hot flash number one started immediately. I pulled out my index card telling me step by step how to split checks and add the 18% gratuity.

Thank The Lord I'm an excellent note taker! (not to mention my buddy who trained me was there and watched to make sure I did it right)

I figured I was done for a while since only having a one table section when the hostess came up and told me to pick up table 160. Then ten minutes later they sat me another table.

After my initial nervousness settled down, found my groove and things got easier.

Then the manager came up to me and said a server called in sick and was moving me to her six table section.

Lucky for me it was an extremely slow day. I kept up and didn't make any major goofs.

At the end of the shift I sat with a couple of other servers and they helped me do my check out.

The break down went like this:

Every check has an added eighteen percent gratuity. If they pay with a credit card that tip will be put on my paycheck and direct deposited into my bank account on payday, every other Thursday. If they tip in cash I walk with the tip. Anything extra over the eighteen percent they may add on a credit card the manager gives me in cash to take home. I had $130.00 in 18% charge tips which will go on my next paycheck. I had $73.00 in added gratuity which the manager gave me to walk with. One guy had tipped me ten extra in cash so kept that too.

I tipped out ten to the guy who is the server assistant and nine to the bar. I walked out with over sixty bucks in my pocket and had another $130 which will be on my paycheck, a total of Over $190.00.

In essence I walked out shortly before eleven, after a slow night with a song in my heart and spring in my step.

Boy did THAT make the MARTA ride back to my once again borrowed vehicle a lot more pleasant!

I"m not used to things getting better or even going right but looks like I'd better get used to it!

I'm calling "Hells Fargo" who holds our mortgage tomorrow and telling them to draft a mortgage payment out of my account on payday, the twenty sixth. Then tell them to take out another one two weeks later on my next payday, making us current.

So I'm going to use this job to pay the mortgage and have enough to cover most of the utilities with my paycheck. Mama Lucia's money two days a week will buy groceries, gas and dog food. The extra cash I get from the airport will be running money, the start of a savings account and help with Massey's college education.

Can it be we're finally turning the corner?

This used to be us but actually think we may be finally seeing this next one in our near future.

Yes I have to leave my house two hours before my shift, borrow a vehicle and drive to the MARTA station and fight the masses on public transportation for a three minute ride, then go through a security screen after another fifteen minute ride on a shuttle to the international concourse but if it means keeping this house we are less than four years away from owning outright I'll do it and be grateful for the opportunity.

Yep I ache and feel like a granny most all the time, but am about granny age anyway.

Jeez, I wear my peepers just like this and most probably have more wrinkles and gray hair but at least both weigh about the same.

Here's what totally blows me away.

My brother in law, Harvey loaned us an older car for four weeks but kept it over a year before the transmission went out. It's still in our driveway and a reminder of how much he has done for us. After that, a blog reader offered me the use of a spare car and got me to the airport for my initial interview for this new second job. Then my next door husband loaned me his little spare Ford Ranger so I could finish training for my new job. My car which have been paying on for over two years should be ready this next week. Tim's car is also in the shop but should be ready before his second job interview on Wednesday. My brother has pretty much helped put Massey through her first year of college.

Our life has pretty much sucked for quite a while but always been blessed and taken care of by family, friends and peeps who love me.

I pray they all know how much they have not only meant to me but how much their kindness has inspired me to keep not only the faith but to keep on fighting.

Going to bed knowing I made the right decision. Sometimes you have to step out of the box, sometimes you have to step back and realize you may be over thinking the solution because heartstrings are strong.

No worries to my Mama Lucia's family.

 I'll  never forget or abandon you, simply because you are the ones who picked me up when at my lowest and have helped, loaned, hollered at but always loved me.

Looks like I have the best of both worlds right now, and a pretty nice place to be after five years of worry and constant turmoil.

Til next time...COTTON

Friday, June 13, 2014

As Ready as I'll Ever Be

Day twenty two in a row of my work week. Luckily I only had to work the night shift at the restaurant here, eight minutes from home. I was off at the airport. I dragged myself out of bed around noon and did the bank run, bill pay and got "Muh Hurr Did" with my $8.99 coupon. Got back home in time to scarf down two bologna sandwiches and it was time to go to work.

I had to close so didn't get off til almost eleven. I came home and started studying again.

My final test is in the morning and will determine if I go on the floor to wait tables myself.

It shouldn't be TOO hard. I only have to know about forty different wines, what country they are from, what region of the country and give three different specifics about them. Then I only have to know all the signature cocktails and what liquors, mixers and garnishes they have. I only have to know all the bottled beer and drafts, many which I had never even heard of before last week... Hoegaarden,  Leffe Blond, Ayinger and Weihenstaphaner to name a few, AND know whether they fall under the category of Lager, Hefeweizen or Ale and which ones are wheat.

Piece of cake!

Then I only have to know which of the following are Digestif or Apertif:

Ricard Pastis
Fernet BrancDow's 20 Year
Martell XO
J.Poli Molinari.

Not a problem! (yes it is)

After that easy part all I have to do is match these grapes , Falanghia, , Sangiovese, Nebbiola, Pinot Grigio and Prosecco to each region:

Trentino Alto-Aldige

Oh yeah, I got that down pat! (NOT)

Then I have to know all the prices by the glass.

Then if the guest is asking for a light - medium fruit forward wine, provide 2 table side descriptions.

And this is just the bar part. The food menu is just as mind boggling. Grilled Octopus, Beef Tongue, Fava Beans, Farro, Fennel, Piperade, Gigante Beans, Radish Crudite, Taglialini, Creme Fraiche, the list goes on and on.

In other words I came home from work and started making a cheat sheet.

 I went to The Dollar Tree today and bought a fine point felt pen and another pack of index cards. I'm on my third cheat sheet and not halfway done.

My biggest worry is I'll have a hot flash during the test and the cards I'm going to hide in my sock will smear.

Don't get me wrong, I've given it my best and learned quite a bit although know there is much more I need to learn.

I simply HAVE to be put on the floor tomorrow and start making tips. After last night I know now that I can make a mortgage next week if I am.

I told Tim today that I would send him a text in the morning if I passed the test and if I did, to call Wells Fargo and tell them we'd have a mortgage payment to them by the end of the week and another one by the end of next week.

My plan is to pay the bills with airport money and live off Mama Lucia's money. Sounds great in theory and WILL be if I can just pass this test.

When I say I stepped out of my league I meant it. As my mother in law would say "This place is Swanky!"

It's fine dining and they just hired a Clampett.

Here's the thing. I may not know it all RIGHT now but WILL.

I am one determined skinny old woman who at the very least knows how to be a server, and is a good one. I know how to show up on time, never call out and work my butt off from the time I clock in til the time I clock out.

I'd offer sexual favors to the managers tomorrow before taking my final test but the thought of their laughter and slapping their leg would just be another kick in the pants.

I'm going to give it my best shot. A lot of it I DO know, but am a terrible test taker and freeze up.

Wish me luck, pray I don't sweat too much and can still read my notes.

Let's just call it me trying to go from Phyliss

to Audrey.

Wish me luck, pray for me and regardless of the outcome, I'll still be...


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Call me Dr. Cotton

Got home from work just as Friday the thirteenth started, 12:01 to be exact.  I learned so much tonight at work. I did a lead shift where I waited on another server's tables. Lucky for me the server was an excellent trainer and knows her stuff. I once again took voracious notes and used my last blank index card, making the pack so thick it barely fit in my back pocket. Once again they were very detailed.

Yes I'm old and yes I need specific instructions, especially since the next time I work will be on my own. I leave nothing to my old woman memory.

For example, my instructions on how to split payments reads like this:

Swipe Micros card
Hit P/U table
Hit Dine in sub total
Hit type in tip amount
Hit CC tip
Type in bottom line amount
Hit CC close.

I still feel nervous talking to tables but mainly because I know my trainer is listening to my attempt at feeling comfortable.

I've got all the table numbers down, I've got all the sidework down and have a semi pretty good grasp of the menu. Wines are still a bit touch and go but will come around with time and lots of studying and asking questions.

The thing I DO have going in my favor is I'm a hard worker and a team player. The thing which scares me the most is I'm playing in the big leagues now.

It was slow tonight and the server I worked with walked out with more  money than I've ever made on a twelve hour double shift.

Yes it's going to be hard, it already is but if I can pull this off and learn everything I need will be the answer to our prayers. Plus I'm staying at Mama's, my comfort zone and padding the pot.

If I can just keep up this seven day work week pace for six months, we'll finally be making  forward advancement as opposed to simply spinning our wheels and barely getting by.

I work at Mama's on Friday night, closing the store then have to be at the airport by eight thirty Saturday morning. I'll take my final Brain Surgeon exam and if I pass will start making tips at ten AM when they open.

I've fretted for three weeks that I couldn't do it but finally feel like maybe, just maybe I can.

I've asked so many questions I felt like a detective. Everyone has answered them although sometimes probably roll their eyes when I'm not looking but that's okay too.

Tim has an interview on Saturday for a full time job and looks very promising. Once things got despairingly desperate I turned to social media networking and put out that Tim was still looking for full time work.


Not thirty minutes later a friend from high school text me about a job and even had a phone number and extension for him to call. It's a long drive but with great benefits and decent pay.

Heck, we may have TWO  Brain Surgeons in the family!

When I first got to work today was complaining about MARTA and how long you had to wait for a train late at night. My trainer told me after eight the trains only run every twenty minutes, not every five. That means you have to catch it on the hour, or wait twenty minutes for the next one.

Unfortunately today I looked at the calendar on the wall at home before leaving for work. I was on day twenty one in a row with six months to go.

Tonight I clocked out with fifteen minutes to spare to make the next train. My trainer left at the same time, showed me a shortcut to the Plane Train and when we hit the turnstile for MARTA had one minute to spare.

Day twenty one in a row , ninety eight pounds soaking wet and haven't eaten since I left home makes a body tired but if the bigger, younger girl could run so could I!

Skidded between the doors of the train as they started to close and my heart was beating so hard I looked around to see if they had a defibrillator on board , just in case! It felt like my heart was pounding in my ears and was lucky enough to grab a pole as the train took off. I didn't see my friend on board but had been ahead of me so knew she'd made it too on another car.

The ride to the parking lot took maybe one minute and was still out of breath when the doors opened. Heck, my little skinny legs were still shaking as I climbed the steps to the platform...MARTA may be Smarta but boy do they make you work for the cheap ride!

I wanted to curl up on the curb of the parking lot like a vagrant, pull a piece of cardboard over me and go to sleep but stumbled on to my once again borrowed truck from my next door husband, opened the door and sat for five minutes behind the wheel huffing and puffing and hot flashing.

Twenty five minutes later I parked my next door husband's borrowed truck in his driveway and literally stumbled down the slight hill between our two yards to my own house.

Looks like Friday the thirteenth is gonna be my lucky day.

Not to forget the hand that has fed us for over four years. On the way to the airport today called Mama's to see what time I had to be there on Friday. I've been opening and working again at three thirty every Friday and Saturday since taking this new job Sunday through Thursday. I don't much like it but am extremely grateful they have kept me on. The hostess told me I didn't work until five on Friday.

Looks like I have half a day off! That's HUGE to me.

I can sleep in, go to bank to deposit my airport check from training, pay the bills most currently overdue and maybe even have time for a nap before heading in at five.

I don't want to jinx myself.

 Still have to pass the final exam on Saturday before going on the floor but if I've made it his far, there's NO stopping me now!

Til next time... Dr. COTTON

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Make it Stop Please

I'm trying to stay positive and trying not to doubt but finding it hard to do. I've stepped out of my comfort zone and taken a huge leap of faith with this new job.  It's certainly not easy to take a job twenty five miles away when you don't even have a vehicle but did it anyway. My absolutely wonderful neighbors have been letting me drive their little spare truck to and from the past two weeks and wouldn't even have been able to finish my training without it. I wanted Tim to have his car here for job hunting and helping get Zach to and from work.

Well THAT came to a halt. I don't know why I even call home from work but I did when I took a restroom break. Tim had a lead on a job and wanted to find out how it went. What I found out was Tim' car went Ka Put. Zach had gone to the credit union to get a loan for a truck he's buying and barely made it back to the house in the car.

By the time I got home from work was more depressed than I've been in quite a while. I wanted to blog but felt so sorry for myself I couldn't think of anything positive to say, didn't want to start a pity party so just fell into bed hoping it would be better the next day.

I read the quote above a little differently. To me it says "No I am definitely not lucky and could sure use some but on the other hand I AM blessed because I am loved."

We found out today after Tim clunked the clattering car to our mechanic that it needed to go to a muffler shop and is where it sits waiting on the verdict. If it's a hundred dollar fix we can handle it. If it's not we'll be needing a miracle to fall out of the sky. Lucky for us, God lives up there so maybe He'll send the answer.

Once again I went next door and climbed into my freebie loaner from the best neighbors in the world and left for the airport convincing myself today would be a better day.

Quickly found a really close spot to park and made it into the train station right as a few drops began to fall. Five minutes later when I got off at the airport it was a torrential downpour. I usually go right outside and catch the shuttle bus to international but would have gotten soaked standing in the rain, even with my umbrella. I headed back inside to go through security and catch the underground Plane Train. I got turned around because I never take the Plane Train out TO the concourse, only take it FROM and wound up in the wrong security line with no employee entrance. There were at least seventy five people in front of me.

I took my chances and headed back to the shuttle bus. By the time I got back the storm had passed and the sun was out. I took this as a lucky sign as I got on the bus. The security line at international is much smaller and quicker to get through anyway.

I got there with some time to to spare. I sat down and got all my massive index cards in order and gave myself a mental pep talk before heading up the escalator to the restaurant.

Right as I started to step on to the escalator I saw a penny on the floor. I had to put on my glasses to make sure it was on heads before I dared to pick it up.

Yep! Another good sign. I stuck ole Abe on heads in my front pocket, took a big breath and marched up the escalator for work.

I still feel nervous every shift, training for a new job makes me this way. I've only had three jobs since 1981 and obviously don't like change.

I feel a little better with each shift though. I've learned what needs to be done and quickly do it without being told when I get there. It doesn't take a genius to realize how to bus or reset tables, fill up an ice bin or polish glasses and silverware.

I got assigned to follow a server I liked from the get go. She knows her stuff and knew I would learn a lot from traipsing along beside her like a ninety eight pound puppy dog so off we went! I let her lead and listened to her spiel as she greeted tables, making lots of mental notes. I rang in all the orders for her on the computer and after about thirty minutes got up the courage to greet the next table myself.

Yes my voice cracked like Peter Brady when talking to them and felt ill at ease about my spiel but did an okay job.

She made several observations and comments about what I needed to work on or change. She made the comments in a positive way and the way I gratefully took them. Before I knew it, it was almost eight o'clock. I asked if I could take a restroom break and trotted across the food court.

Sitting on the toilet, not having to pee took out my cell phone which had buzzed a couple of times in my back pocket during training.

I sent a dear friend from school a quick text updating her on my unlucky life's turn of events then clicked on a message from my daughter away at Girl Scout camp working as a counselor for the summer.

Guess she had read my sad post from last night about what a crappy day I'd had.

This is what she'd sent me:

I'm not too sure how my girl got so smart, certainly wasn't from me but the message came through loud and clear.

The part I liked the most is "Because, once we have overcome the defeats---and we always do---we are filled by a greater sense of euphoria and confidence."

I have a wonderful husband who has taken even more hard knocks than I have but still tries to remain positive. I have three kids who constantly worry about and take care of me and a network of family, friends and readers who urge and encourage me every day.

At least I still weigh more than the mouse above but feel like a giant tonight.

I don't have the new job down pat but finally feel like I can do it and really be good at it if I continue to work hard, ask lots of questions and try my best.

You know what?

I can and I WILL!

Til next time COTTON

Monday, June 9, 2014

Maybe I CAN Do This!

A little after midnight, just walked in the door. I helped close tonight and learned about how to do a check out at the end of a shift.

I got to work today making excellent time, finding a parking space my first time through the lot. It wasn't really close but didn't want to waste time tooling around the lot in first gear. As I made my way uphill to the station spotted several closer spots but with a MARTA lot you just never know and being new to this job always go with "Better safe than sorry" when parking at the train station. I even got there early enough to sit in the atrium and go over my notes, which consist of a full binder, a small spiral notebook, a hundred index cards held together by a rubber band and a small notepad I also carry in my pocket.

I've been freaking out over having to take the food and wine tests, which I have copies of in my binder but been furiously making small cheat sheets just in case I freeze up...I'm not a good test taker, never have been.

Last night when I got to work they were busy as heck and guarantee the last thing on the manager's mind was giving me a test.

Instead I starting doing what I do best, clocking in and immediately getting to work. I helped bus and reset tables, refilled waters, cleaned up and helped polish silverware. They needed more butter ramekins so I found some clean ones in the back and filled them. I polished glasses and helped run food. These things I didn't need to be told how to do so I did them.

A few hours later when things calmed down the manager told me to get my binder and follow him out to the atrium. He went over a few things in my training binder and told me to continue taking the tests all located in the back of the binder on my own. (HUGE sigh of relief)

He made the comment to take them without looking up all the answers first because that wouldn't help me learn much, which was the goal. Instead fill them out best I could then go back and look up what I didn't know or missed.

Then said he appreciated me clocking in and immediately pitching in to help like I did without being asked and said "It was like you'd been working here for a year."

That's when I started to get it.

It didn't make me feel much more relaxed but let me know they have noticed I am a hard worker.

I don't have many attributes in my favor, I'm a newbie who is well over half a century old and not cute like some of the younger girls , don't know an awful lot about wines but have been taking voracious notes and asking tons of questions and  certainly don't mind jumping in to help without being asked or told to.

Today I helped fold linens and studied my note cards while doing so. I have my white wines down pretty well and my red wines are coming along too.

I worked by the service bar for a while, the manager wanted me behind the bar with the bartenders but felt I was in the way so hovered by the service area where servers pick up drinks and filled out about ten more index cards on specialty drinks and beers I've never heard of as the bartender (who could be a freakin' model) explained them to me.

Then I followed a server for a while, lucky for me it was the girl who recommended me for the job and she let me put in her orders on the computer as she watched.

Then she took me to a computer and let me look through the system on the manager's screen and bounce around to see all the options, modifiers and special instructions.

Yes, I'm an old woman.

As she showed me how to open a table on the screen to put in an order I said "Wait a minute, let me get out a new index card to write on."

This is how completely by the book I learn or either how slow I am to catch on.

I wrote:
#1 swipe card
#2 hit Begin table
#3 hit table number
#4 hit enter
#5 hit number of guests
#6 hit enter

At least I now had yet another index card to lead me as to how to open a table for service. I continued taking notes as we put in orders.

Massey had given me about hundred index cards to take notes on when I started training and am already down to about ten blank ones.

My friend got cut and left and was assigned to follow another server who was closing. He's a pretty cool dude who I really like and is very helpful. Everyone there is nice but some more helpful than others. That's the way it is in every restaurant and am used to that.

The biggest thing working in my favor is I am a server who is willing to help any and everyone and management noticed.

I left after eleven tonight, a little apprehensive because it's the first time I was leaving the airport late taking MARTA  back to my (next door husband's borrowed) vehicle.

Here's the thing. I get on the train and less than one minute later am getting off, followed by at least thirty other airport employees or travelers. We all walk to the same lot in the same direction and even though I was parked at the far end still had three or four people going in the same general direction.

Yes the MARTA lot can be dangerous late at night but so can the WalMart parking lot or even Kroger parking lot in the town where I live. 

Heck, if you watch the news obviously know no where is safe anymore. Not MARTA, not Newnan, and certainly not where our men and women are serving overseas or even college campuses.

So here's the real deal.

They know I need to learn a lot more about fine wine and the fancy smanschy European cuisine they serve but have also realized, have hired someone who works hard and is driven.

I think I'll be okay now.

I may have to go pick up another pack of index cards and download "Wine for Dummies" on my phone but will continue to ask questions and continue to take notes.

Heck, I've already run two pens out of ink just taking notes!

I still get nervous about the long trek to work each day. I have to worry about MARTA, from parking to trains which seem to take forever to arrive at the station, to lines at security and TSA who sometimes wave you through but other times pull you off to the side like you have a bomb in your shoes. Not to mention I'm still bumming vehicles from wonderful neighbors, friends and relatives.

The car I bought well over a year ago for $3000 has been paid down to under five hundred but still doesn't have the transmission installed or even purchased so still have to scramble for rides, which is humiliating at best  considering I at least have an AARP card.

Taking it all in stride.

My home restaurant isn't really happy with me about my new venture but is working with me. It's family owned, not corporate and could have fired me. Instead has allowed me to stay on four shifts a week on my two days off from the airport.

So am working seven days a week now. Five at a job I'm scrambling like a mouse to learn and two at a place where I feel comfortable but tired even by the time I get there.

I've been given a chance and am taking it.

Til next time...Comfortably COTTON