Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The British are Coming!

Massey had a friend from England come stay with us Clampetts this past week. She's a beauty inside and out! I absolutely loved her accent although made me sound even more like a hick in comparison but have been called a lot worse. Massey used her airport badge to go past security , meet her as soon as she cleared customs and pick her up at the international terminal.

I told Massey since they were so close to downtown ATL to take her to Little Five Points to window shop and explore before heading home. I figured once she saw all the freaks which are L5P our family would seem a lot less crazy when she met us!

She was going to stay in Massey's old bedroom which hasn't changed since she was a little girl and let her pick out colors for the walls. (Hideous to say the least)

A couple of the Lost Boys have stayed in it from time and TJ for a while after moving back from Australia. I always consider that room free room and board so never bother to dust or vacuum. It was disgusting but never make a free room look too good...they'll never want to move out.

Our blind boxer, Ham got shut in there one night by accident when we all left and by the time we got back home an hour later had scratched through one complete side of the door. I knew I had to replace the door. The door's always open so never had to look at it and certainly never crossed my mind to replace it.

The dust and dirt I could clean up and had clean new sheets for the bed but knew when she shut that door for the first time would think someone had been held captive in the room and may panic herself, hitch hike to the airport and hop the next jet back across the pond.

I asked Zach to measure the door and bribed another Lost Boy to go pick up a door from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore in his big ole pickem up truck and help Zach put it on. Of course they didn't go where I asked and ended up paying  more for the door but at least was brand new (and Zach paid for it anyway). Guess I couldn't complain so was happy to pull into our driveway from the grocery store seeing the old one already off and outside in the garage. This was two hours before our British friend was to arrive.

I started dinner and went upstairs to see how things were going. I was excited to see the door attached only missing the door knob. A door knob doesn't take an hour to put on, even with Lost Boys doing it.

I pulled the door shut (or tried to) and hit the frame, needing about a quarter inch less to shut completely.

Are you kidding me?

The Amish Lost Boy  (what we call him) with the pickem up truck said "Wait til winter when it's cold and wood shrinks, bet it'll shut then."

So she now had a clean room to sleep in, a new nice door to (try and) shut without a door knob but a nice three inch round peep hole instead.

This poor girl wouldn't make it twenty four hours with us clowns, I was sure of it now.

The Lost Boys got the door knob put on about five minutes before Massey and her friend got here. I put a weight in the floor so she could at least almost shut the door for some privacy.

We grilled out hamburgers and the Lost Boys ate with us too. Trial by fire I say, may as well get her used to our weirdness right from the jump!

Just like the perfect guest she brought us gifts.  Tea Biscuits in a beautiful can and a nice box of English Tea. I'm already liking this young girl.

Next time our close buddy ole Queen Lizzy comes a calling (again) at the Clampetts, we'll have a spot of tea with Her Highness instead of cokes and cheetos!

Massey took four days off work and showed her friend around Atlanta, Warm Springs, The Little White House, Pine Mountain and beautiful Senoia where my sister lives. They did Zoo Atlanta and even got a lube job at the Varsity!

I wasn't around much, actually worked most every day she was here but seemed to really enjoy their week together.

One night while she was here, at work  had three really nice Brits at my table. I told them about our visitor and what city she was from. One of the men said (cheerily as all Brits do) "You be sure to tell that Yorkshire miss to sing 'Ilkley Moor Bar Tat' for you!! Of course I had to write it down to remember but when got home from work found them in the living room watching Netflix and announced what song I wanted to hear her sing.

She laughed, declined the offer to sing and said was a "Dreadful song anyway."

I'm not so sure about that. I found this awesome video on Youtube!

One whirlwind of a week later, Massey took her back to the airport. They were tearing up before they even left the house.

Needless to say I'm now friends with her and her mum (as they say) on Facebook!

It was great for her and Massey to have a week together after a year apart and think the visit was a complete success, especially being thrown in with the Clampetts!

A lot has been going on at work too.

Our wonderful General Manager took a new job outside of the restaurant industry to have more time with his wife and six month old son. Can't blame him but sure will miss him.

He's German so seemed fitting to get our leader a present he'd remember me by.

Our executive chef got a promotion to our midtown location and left about a month ago.

Times and things change. Sometimes it's easy, sometimes it's not.

Then I found out the manager who originally interviewed, hired  (but terrified me at first) and took a chance on me was leaving too. Same story, he has a wife and little girl under two years old. My old GM was the good cop. This one was the bad cop but an excellent one!

He'd see me doing something wrong or not the right way and call me on it every time and time and time again when I first started.

I finally realized it was a compliment from him (happening so often) and that he was not only managing, but teaching me.

I will be eternally grateful to him for showing, sharing and teaching me professionalism in my ( obviously) chosen field.

So his last day just rolled around too and was even more prepared. He's from Bosnia. Hey, I can do Muslim too!

I ordered him a turban off Amazon and was going to get Massey to bling it out with his Bosnian nick name in rhinestones. It would be my last day working with him. I knew he didn't eat pork but figured he could wear a picture of it so also ordered him a Looney Tunes Tee shirt with Porky Pig in the center  saying "That's all folks!"  He actually wore the turban and  tee shirt out when he left the restaurant. That made me feel good. As he so often said "That's awesome!"

I've had some great managers over the past thirty six years but this guy ranks right up there!

I was a mess when I took this new job. Our family was still struggling to recover from a five year financial debacle, was terrified to change jobs and totally out of my league at the new gig.

I worked harder than I ever have at learning a new job, and had to. It's what's expected of you from this restaurant group... but you know what?

This old dog can (and did) learn new tricks!

It wasn't easy with the Bosnian watching my every move, always correcting in a positive reinforcing way teaching me things vitally needed to be the best server you could, but did the smart thing.

"Listen and learn."

And I did.

Sometimes you have to roll with the punches. Sometimes you have to throw a few but never stop swinging, regardless.

We're gonna make it now thanks to love from family, about a hundred folks, two great new jobs and a lot of new friends.

Love is an awesome thing.

Til next time...COTTON

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy Fourth on the Fifth

If I had to wear a 4th of July shirt I'd pick this one. It's clever...and true, America's got my back. I'm proud to be an American.

It was slow yesterday and today at work but was to be expected. On the up side we ate good, had more than a few laughs and still managed to walk out with well over a hundred dollars each night. The next couple of days will the  precursor to flat out craziness which (lucky for me) occurs every July through November in the international terminal of the world's busiest airport.

And I'm ready!

Looking sharp ain't I?

Not bad for fifty five and (hard to believe)  haven't even bought one fashion magazine since the seventies!

My daughter has a friend from England coming to visit for a week here at the Clampett/Cotton compound day after tomorrow. I was kind of worried.

Number one I can't even imagine being able to fly Massey to England and  give her spending money for a week just to visit a friend she met last year while doing a gig as a counselor at Girl Scout camp last summer and number two they're paying all that money to send her to live with us for a week.

I randomly asked Massey on the way home from work the other night... "She knows we're not rich, right?"  Massey didn't get offended, seem ruffled one bit just happily (while Snap chatting) chirped back "No, she knows all about us".

I wondered if that was a good thing or a bad thing?

It's not like she's visiting the White House, she's visiting our house!

 I took mental inventory and decided it was okay. It's not a dump but it not's a palace. If you want a roof over your head, laughter and love all around you, it's a proverbial mansion. (if you don't look too close or open closets)

I think the kid will go back across the pond in a week knowing the REAL America.

Good people who can survive bad times, have a few battle scars but also have a chance to rebound and move ahead if you give it your all.

I have two days to prepare and always work better under pressure.

I think it's gonna be fun having a Brit here for a week.

Stay tuned...COTTON

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

You Gotta Roll With It

Sometimes, no pretty much all the time it helps to laugh about things especially when you're sad and can't do anything to change it anyway. Why not try to find some humor?

Our General manager got a new job outside of the restaurant industry and most likely will never see or talk to him again. Tonight was the last shift I worked with him. I totally understand it's what's best for him and his family. They have a six month old boy now,  and will be able to spend a lot more time at home and on a normal weekday schedule. I'm glad for him but sad for us.

I've had a lot of good managers over the years and only a few bad ones but he is hands down the best GM I have ever been fortunate enough to work for. The really cool thing about my job is that all the managers are great and is a pleasure to see any number of them there.

They are all friendly, extremely knowledgeable and continuously encouraging rather than demanding. When I got this job, I really hit the server jackpot.

Of course there are always two or three you mentally roll at when seeing their name on your scheduled shift but the restaurant bunch is  an eclectic one to say the very least.

I think that's why I love the profession so much, it's right up my alley.

It's a job where you have a lot of control over what you make. Do the job right and the job will do you right. (most of the time anyway)

Waiting tables is nothing more than a crap shoot. You can walk out with a pocket full or you could crap out. After over thirty five years think I have become a pretty good gambler. Of course I have my off nights but more often than not walk out more than satisfied, especially with this job.

I've been given, taught and learned more information, tools and methods than I ever knew existed to improve my odds and is a blessing beyond belief, especially at this point in my way over halfway done life.

It was a rocky start for me in fine dining at this age but after four months felt pretty stinking confident and now over a year later have amazed even myself.

Being a really good server should be at least some type of college degree is all I'm saying.

Our GM waited until he had less than a week left before he let the kitchen staff and front of the house know. I was devastated but knew what I had to do.

Make the best out of a bad situation.

Our Manager is from the midwest but of German descendants. I had three days until I last worked with him and spent quite a bit of time finding the best going away present for him. Number one I don't have a whole lot of spare money and number two didn't have a lot of time left.

I found the perfect gift on Amazon for around ten bucks with two day shipping. I gave it to him when we were alone in the hallway out back of the restaurant. On the card envelope had addressed it to "Unser Kommandeur" (our commander)

I handed him the gift wrapped box and told him it wasn't much but something his little boy might find on a shelf in one of their closets some day when he was seven or eight and beg to have. I only asked that he keep my cell number and send me a picture of his boy wearing it. Then hugged his neck, thanked him for being such a great boss and told him once again how much I would miss him.

As he carefully unwrapped it (he's a neat freak too) told him my daughter would never forgive me if he didn't let me take a pic with my cell to show her, she's as crazy about him as I am and has only worked there maybe six or seven weeks. That's how great a guy he is.

Yes he now has a German Officer's Hat, complete with chin strap and you can't tell me when his son finds it one day won't think it's the coolest thing ever!

When I was online buying it the other night my son Zach (who's birthday is Monday) came in the room, looked at the computer screen and said "Whoa! If your boss doesn't want it, I do!"

When he walked out of the room I changed the quantity order to two. Can't wait to see Zach's face when he opens it on his birthday.

Life goes on  (if you're lucky) but you just have to roll with it. Yes it's a gamble.

What isn't?

Til next time...COTTON