Tuesday, January 26, 2016

My Biggest Irrational Fear

This was the very last picture ever taken of my mother (on the left). She died two days later. She and her friend (the woman on her right) had driven down to pick me and and the other woman's daughter (still a dear friend of mine) up from cheerleading camp  and waiting on this bench together. It was August 17, 1977.

I'd had an epiphany the day before, after finding out Elvis had died. If you think it was a big deal when freaky Michael Jackson died wouldn't believe what a huge deal it was when the King of Rock and Roll kicked. It was massively huge.

I was a self centered seventeen year old who thought of no one but herself, much like every seventeen year old kid but when Elvis died totally blew my mind. If Elvis was gone, meant even we could be and just as suddenly!

I went to a phone booth in the dorm where we were staying at a small college for cheerleading camp and called my momma. "Yes I was shocked too" she said as I slumped to the floor in the corner of the phone booth. We talked for over thirty minutes. I hadn't had a conversation that long with her since I was in elementary school. Once you're a seventh grader you don't need parents; they only get in your way, embarrass you and always say no when you ask to go somewhere really cool.

I told my mother between many sobs and tears how much I did love her and how sorry I was for being such a selfish brat. She listened quietly, calmed my fears and told me not to be upset. Then she said this...

"Don't worry, not even for a minute. I've always known you love me even when you acted like you didn't... and I love you too."

I think the last time I'd acted like I'd loved her was when the above photo was taken of us. I was in seventh grade. I was a good little kid, just a brat of a teenager. Trust me, I'd give anything to be able and throw my arm around her like this again.

My mother died two days later after picking me up from that cheerleading camp. She and my older sister took me shopping for my senior year of high school starting the next week. I was in the dressing room, trying on a pair of jeans when my sister screamed. I came out to see my mother clutching a rack of clothes, pulling it over as she fell. She opened her eyes once to look at me as I shouted "Momma". Her eyes seemed glazed over and then shut.


 My sister started CPR while the sales lady called 911. My father got to the store from his work as they were loading her into the ambulance and he went with her. My sister and I followed in her car. Downtown Atlanta traffic on a Friday afternoon was bad, even in 1977 and the ambulance made it to the hospital before we did.

We were quickly ushered to a room to find my father sitting all alone with a phone book open calling someone to go pick my brother up from the grocery store where he was working. He looked up at us both after hanging up the phone and simply said "Your mother didn't make it."

She died on Friday afternoon and her funeral was on Sunday. My father even went to church on Sunday morning before her funeral that afternoon in the sanctuary. Both our parents were devout Christians and think Diddy (what we called our father) simply needed to be with his God.

We had it all. Two wonderful parents and the best upbringing a kid could ever dream of having.

Monday morning it was back to business for my father. He went to work and sent me to the dentist for a previously scheduled appointment (by my mother) to have a cavity filled.

I already hated going to the dentist, we had a horrible one growing up. He was friends with both my parents but once he had you in that little room alone always barked "Take it like a trooper" and sometimes left you alone so long waiting the novacaine started to wear off...hence the "Take it like a trooper!"

We had a new dentist by then,  a super nice guy and was a great thing. The bad thing is he didn't know my mother had suddenly died the previous Friday. He was trying to be nice and chat it up with me while drilling into my tooth. Unfortunately Elvis was still the hot topic and went on and on about how crazy it was Elvis had died. "You just never know when you're gonna go, do you? I still can't believe it, here one day and gone the next!"

The more he talked the faster my tears rolled. At the age of seventeen  just didn't have it in me to tell him to shut up because my mother had just gone the exact same way forty eight hours ago.

I know he meant no harm and was just simply trying to make conversation while jabbing a drill into my mouth but couldn't run fast enough out of that office and waited, sobbing on the curb of the street to be picked up.

I'm almost fifty seven years old and haven't been in a dentist's chair since.

When I was this age they made me go even when I didn't want to but I'm my own boss now!

I know it's an irrational fear and close to being called crazy but have been called worse.

After all we've been through these past five years, guess God was getting me ready to face my biggest irrational fear.

My back teeth on both sides have broken. Didn't bother me much and don't show but one of them recently started killing me, excruciatingly so.

I finally have wonderful insurance again and the means to pay any extra it may cost so am going to face my biggest irrational fear... a dentist's chair.

Wish me luck!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Turn The Other Cheek (my momma always said)

The airport has been socked in for two days thanks to the winter storm, Jonas charging up the east coast. Here's the thing I've learned...the first day travelers are okay with it. They drink a lot and get their cheer on. The second day, heading toward the third begin to blame anyone they come in contact with.

Lucky for me, was working the first day and made more money than I ever have on one shift and's saying a lot considering have been serving for over thirty six years. Unfortunate for me, also worked the second day and hangovers in a foreign country seem to tend to be not too pretty.

Don't get me wrong. For the most part everyone was really nice albeit stressed, tired with some still dressed in shorts and flip flops on return trips from exotic warm locations only to be stranded in sub freezing temps on a connecting flight home.

I remember my first day working there, they made me work at the host stand. My manager (a wonderful mentor) who was from Bosnia told me to speak to everyone who came by and not be offended if some didn't respond, was just that way with some  foreign cultures.

After almost two years I've kind of gotten used to that...total the opposite way I was raised in the south. I'll even sometimes introduce myself as Kelly (in my southern accent) and some will call me Ellen or Helen throughout the entire meal. I've been called worse so doesn't bother me the slightest bit.

Yes, I know I sound like a hick, I've heard myself recorded. It's quite embarrassing.

Ironically enough, my own mother's first name was Minnie. She hated and refused to go by it using her middle name, Ann instead.

Side note: Minnie Pearl invented the whole tag still on a cap thing way before these guys did.

So anyway...back to my story.

I know peeps and passengers were all pretty irritated, especially  international travelers stuck in Atlanta, trying to get to another continent instead of another state.

I know they were all weary and tired but so was I after waiting on them for two days straight. Sometimes I had to simply step out back into the hallway behind the restaurant, off limits to passengers and take a moment to remind myself  how well I was being compensated and who was actually doing the compensating.

I got my W-2 forms in the mail this past week.

I'm an almost fifty six year old woman with just two years of college. I lost a job I'd held for almost thirteen years making pretty good money when my husband had been out of work for over a year and were already struggling. I quickly found another job for a little less money with a family owned restaurant but that family took care of my family for almost four years. They loaned me money when we needed it and were  always wonderful to me.

Then thanks to another good friend, got the opportunity of a lifetime for a server.

Working (and parking) at the world's busiest airport is at best semi controlled insanity but allowed me to immediately double and after almost  two years almost triple my income.

I'm a hard core server and been one from the late seventies. (that would be the 1970's)

I know the drill and what it takes, but especially now after joining the big league realize it's not just a job...it's my profession.

 My family is secure now, my husband has a great job albeit a thousand miles away but with fingers and toes crossed will be closer to us soon and all be able to join him in a few short months.

It's all about the struggle and all about being strong. I'm getting older, that's a true fact... but feel stronger than ever and wouldn't be here without not only surviving but learning from them.

I'm thinking this crazy ole gal is the luckiest idiot who ever hit the "Now I Get It" lottery!

Til next time...COTTON

Friday, January 22, 2016

Slap Crazy

With the threat of bad weather predicted, Massey and I left two hours early for work today. We left Newnan with the sun peeking through the clouds after several thunderstorms this morning and massive amounts of rainfall. It was almost fifty degrees. The closer we got to the airport, the worse it got. Steady rain and idiots surrounding us on the interstate driving with hazard lights on made for a harrowing drive.  You know the kind, where you sit hunched forward toward the steering wheel and never relax. We made it to the airport with well over an hour to spare so stopped by our favorite comfort food place, The BBQ Kitchen.

We loaded up on smoked beef brisket, mashed potatoes, fried okra and broccoli casserole.

Tooled into the International parking garage and found a spot on the first level, near the shuttle bus (always a good omen) and hot footed it aboard the bus in no time. The bad weather wasn't due for several more hours but walked into a packed restaurant and were both immediately asked to come on the floor to work.

From two o'clock until almost ten was a butt kicking I haven't had in quite some time. Flight delays  and cancelled flights drove everyone to the only five star restaurant in the entire airport to relax and simply wait. I've worked there almost two years and have never seen the restaurant so packed. Bet I said "excuse me, pardon me, coming through, sorry , may I get through please" about fifty times.

I almost lost it around seven o'clock. The place was packed, there was no place to stand much less sit and had ten tables going at once.

Here's the freaky thing about it. It all started  with a European woman who was quite demanding. Dang, I thought I was bossy! She ordered for her male companion as well, from the wine to the main course to the dessert. I finally had to say "I'm truly sorry but doing the best I can" when she had to wait for more wine. The bar was packed and three deep.

I used my rule of thumb...kill 'em with kindness. They (she) wanted more bread and was taking three other orders at the time. I asked Massey (the server assistant) to cut some bread for the rude woman at table 103 and be sure to smile. Massey also ran their entrees and the woman was very curt. Massey once again smiled.

When I presented the check (of course to  her) and apologized for any delays in  service, said I hoped they would visit us again next time through our city, saying everything was included and dropped two Hersey Kisses on the table. "Here's a goodbye kiss from Atlanta and thanks for coming in!"


On top of included gratuity she left me thirty extra bucks and even ate the chocolate kisses.

It happened again and again and again. I felt drunk with positivity power, or maybe just dizzy with all the circles I ran around the restaurant. I sold a hundred dollar bottle of wine to a couple (kept the cork to remind myself how lucky I am) and didn't slow down until thirty minutes before closing. I could finally breathe again!

When I walked by a table of two men trying to take a picture of themselves... BAM, did it again.

For some strange unexplained reason  had taken the selfie stick I got from my nephew and his wife for Christmas to work with me. I don't even know how to work it unless Massey shows me. It just kinda seemed like a day where we may get stuck at the airport so brought my phone charger and threw the selfie stick into my bag for fun.

They loved it, thanked me and took several pics (after Massey showed them how).

The minute they left, happy with their pics...business died just as quickly as it had erupted.

Guess what happened next?


Oh yeah!

We're a rocking bunch. We know how to be professionals at our job and are . We also know how to celebrate when all is said and done.

We are a family.

It's crazy working in the world's busiest airport but feels even more phenomenal to work at the world's number one airport bar.

Til next time...COTTON

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Bring Back Tickets Hanging On A Wire Line With Clothespins

The company who has our contract at the airport for the restaurant I work in has 54,000 employees worldwide with revenues last year exceeding 3.9 billion dollars yet has a computer program seemingly created by Atari, right after they created "Pong".

The company has been wonderful to me and my only complaint is the outdated computer system on which we work. The system goes offline and often stays offline for hours at a time, leaving everything (including us) hanging in the wind as far as financial culpability goes. I've learned after over almost two years of working for them, the one sure way to get fired is messing up that money drop you have to make at the end of each shift.When the system goes offline, checks seem to disappear becoming "ghost checks" the manager has to find and close out and can't even get a detailed readout at the end of your shift.

The airport where I work has a union which am sure is in place to protect all employees but have learned also enables poor performance and total apathy.

I have never had a job as good as my current one and grateful for all it has done for me and my family but that blind money drop scares the poop out of me. Not to mention  have to guestimate all my tip outs, which affects other employees who assist me.

Yes I make incredible money most shifts and at a  level of serving where it consists of support staff, aptly titled. When you sometimes make upwards of thirty sometimes forty dollars an hour in an eight hour shift and support staff is being paid minimum wage, you need to take care of the people who help you succeed making it. On the other hand, am not in it to simply give away my money either. Some servers don't comply but I do. I tip out 2% to the bar for wine and beer, 6% for liquor. I tip out food runners 2% of my food sales and the same for server assistants. Some shifts I tip out over forty dollars but when they help you make literally hundreds it's only fair to compensate them as well.

Yes I have more knowledge about the food and wine (as I should) which increases my monetary potential, but they also know table numbers, seat positions, go get condiments and refill water, even help polish glasses and silver when the need arises.

Actually I think my biggest complaint about work is servers who refuse to support support staff. Tipping out is not mandatory but in my mind obligatory. There are servers who tell server assistants not to bus their tables simple because they don't want to throw them a small financial bone.

A server assistant or food runner has no option but to do their job, even if not compensated by a server and no wonder they get irritated after a grueling extremely busy shift when someone hands them five dollars instead of fourteen after bussing tables and actually seeing what the server has been left. They most probably are calculating it their head every time they bus, wipe down and reset your table. I know I would!

I have a few rules I firmly live by. One of the most important  is "You get what you give."

I can pretty much guarantee if you took a survey  from front of the house to the back of the house of our restaurant, to the hallway out back where garbage guys collect trash and people who clean the food court out front, to  restrooms where women scrub the toilets to peeps who take me to and from my car parked for twelve bucks a day to the cashier who I pay when leaving...would all tell you, I'm a stand up person.

I started at the airport all by myself two years ago, a fish out of water and brought my daughter on board this past year but lucky for me the apple didn't fall far from the tree.  When I go to work during the week while Massey is in school, every cook, chef and every shuttle bus driver asks about her. So do cashiers when leaving the parking deck. Even my fave TSA guys when going in and out of security. ask where the other Cotton is?

When you try and be a good person, make other people feel like they matter in the scheme of your own life...it comes back ten fold, maybe twenty.

It makes the occasional crappy day so much easier to bear and brightens the life of people you interact with on a daily basis.

I'm gonna be a proton, regardless of haters, regardless of the clueless and peeps deemed to fail as I succeed.

That's a battle they chose..and  "Good luck with that!"

Til next time... COTTON

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

We All Need To Be Kinder

This is the upstairs atrium where I work, in the world's busiest airport. This past year over 100,000,000 passengers passed through this airport in under a twelve month period, once again a record.

I've been a server for well over thirty six years but is the first time I've ever served in an airport much less the world's busiest. It's like traveling every day just to get to and from the job. I rode MARTA fro almost a year. It was cheaper but added almost four hours to every work day and very inconvenient for me considering we don't live near a line and parked at the absolute busiest station, next to the airport. You had to fight for a parking spot, run for the train station and if missed the train  had to wait on another. On weekends they only run one line and only every twenty minutes instead of every five so if you miss the train you're screwed from the jump. Granted it's a one minute ride to the airport but they let you off on the domestic side and I work on the international side, another shuttle bus ride away unless I go through the nightmare known as "Domestic Security" go down two floors and ride the underground train out to concourse F where I work, where TSA security goes twice as fast.

I completely understand the reasoning and need for security screening and for the most part all of TSA employees are very nice. There are maybe one or two though, who after almost two years of working there have found to be complete power mongers and  horrible representations of the city Atlanta. Case in point; almost every day I stop at the gas station before getting on the highway and get an coke Icee. I usually have some left before going through security but have always thrown it away because you can't bring water bottles or drinks through. A very nice TSA employee told me just the other day after slurping down a gulp and tossing it, remarking how much I hated not being able to take it with me,  "You can bring that through, it's frozen!"

That was a happy day!

The very next day  stopped for an Icee before work and bought a larger size, excited about being able to take it to work with me. Of course one of the two TSA peeps I don't like very much was working. I stuck my lunch bag and purse in a tub and propped the Icce up in my bag.

I went through the line, showing my badge and waited for my tub to come through. My buddy(not) held up my Icee and said loudly "Who's this belong to?" I raised my hand and he barked "Are you through with it?" I told him I had been told I could bring it through because it was frozen when he barked back "I asked if you were through with it?" Not wanting to cause a huge fuss said he could toss it if he needed to.

"That's NOT what I asked you."

I did a mental (maybe not) eye roll and said whatever he needed to do was just fine. Well he huffed and puffed but thirty seconds later my Icee came through the scanner with all my other belongings.

So why did he have to be such a Richard Noggin if it was okay for me to bring it through?

The next day I had my daughter in tow with me, we both worked that day. The same rude dude was working. There was a KLM flight crew in front of us. They all took off jackets and began to take off their shoes to put on the belt going through the scanner when my rude buddy told them they were doing way too much, were in a pre check line and didn't need to take off coats or shoes. They all started to gather back up their jackets and shoes when he barked "It's done now...I mean how many times a day do you do this?" One flight attendant with balls said "Once". Then he starts talking into the air to the other TSA guy on the other side like these people weren't even standing there.

"I mean how many times do these people do this and how long does it take them to get it right?"

Rude dude, please!

These people are coming through our airport, your airport in your city and obviously all security approved but you want to humiliate  people who's first language isn't English and try to  make them feel stupid?

Welcome to the  south and so much for southern hospitality.

I so wanted to say something to him and Massey stopped me (good thing) but seriously want to find out who HIS manager is and tell him this dude needs some serious customer service training. I realize it's a security checkpoint and for a good reason but to harass and humiliate is ridiculous, especially a flight crew.

People need to be kinder.

This world needs to be kinder.

My effort every day in every way is to be a good person. Think what a wonderful world it could be if we all did.

Love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love.
There's nothing you can do that can't be done.
Nothing you can sing that can't be sung.
Nothing you can say, but you can learn
How to play the game
It's easy.
Nothing you can make that can't be made.
No one you can save that can't be saved.
Nothing you can do, but you can learn
How to be you in time
It's easy.
All you need is love, all you need is love,
All you need is love, love. Love is all you need.
Love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love.
All you need is love, all you need is love,
All you need is love, love. Love is all you need.
There's nothing you can know that isn't known.
Nothing you can see that isn't shown.
There's nowhere you can be that isn't where
You're meant to be
It's easy.

Hate seems to be abundant and winning in this world of ours today which makes me sad, but also makes me more determined.

Til next time...COTTON

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Karma Comes a Calling

Two thirty in the morning, waiting on my bed sheets to dry. After over five years of continuous struggle I see the light at the end of the tunnel and doesn't appear to be an oncoming train.

Much to my amazement and relief is the beam of sunlight we've been waiting for.

My only regret is  my tenure at Ecco will be coming to a close within this current year.

Having the opportunity to work for Fifth Group Restaurants has been the most amazing experience and eye opening observation for a professional server. As a server, you control your own destiny and feel after almost two years have learned the skills to knock it pretty much out of the park.

My husband's two year self volunteered exile in Texas for a better job opportunity is coming to a close and when transferred / promoted again will be joining him, wherever it may be.

I am extremely proud of the sacrifice Tim made moving a thousand miles away from home to provide for all of us here. I know it wasn't (and hasn't been) easy but did what he needed to do to save this house and our family.  Tim is such an opposite personality and person from me is a wonder we ever met at all and can only assume I shoved him in my direction was happy when he obliged.

We've been together since early 1988 and never been apart until he moved to Texas last January.

Here's the real facts. When both spouses lose great jobs after over twenty years of sailing along easy breezy, things get really real and really quick. We went through all our savings, a pretty substantial (by our standards) amount when Tim couldn't land a job in his field, or any  during the financial meltdown around 2006. If my two sibs and countless friends had  not supported and rallied to our rescue we would have lost everything.  Me being a server quickly found work but after two years of constant struggle for Tim, began to feel like a finger pointer which I still regret. I tend to have a strong pointer finger and can (did) wag it like a crazy lady.

The last five years have been a long blur of  borrowing from Peter to pay Paul and writing bad checks to keep utilities on because reconnect fees were higher than NSF fees.

Fast forward five years.

I took Tim to work with me at the airport where I'd landed the greatest job I'd ever had and he boarded a plane to go work in Texas for two years, a thousand miles away from all of us but with the chance of promotion if he did well.

He did well.

He's only been able to come home twice since but makes me realize what a commitment he's made to keep our family afloat. I'm sure he enjoys not seeing me point a finger but know he misses everyone and every pup. He knocked it out of the park in Texas and is being transferred again at the end of this month, just a hop skip and jump away from all of us.

If this transfer doesn't happen, something better will.

The moral of this long winded story is this:

You can't let things and obstacles define you. Be yourself and be a good person and define yourself.

 We chose to surround ourselves with God and the people who truly love us.

Karma is defined as "The total effect of one's actions during the successive phases of one's existence, regarding one's destiny."

It's been a battle,  not gonna lie but could and would do it again.

He brought me to this dance and you always  dance with the one who brung you.

Til next time...COTTON

Friday, January 8, 2016

Trial By Fire

My daughter has been working at the airport with me since she got out of school last spring. She worked with me at my last restaurant as a hostess but just like me was a fish out of water working at a five star fine dining establishment with a well known Atlanta restaurant group in the world's busiest airport.

I've been a server since 1979 and have learned quite a few lessons in the past thirty seven years. Number one on my list is "Never let a customer make you cry". I learned it the hard way when I worked for Longhorn. When I got my job at Longhorn it was (at the time) with the number one store in the company. Moving up from thirteen years at a pizza joint where I felt comfortable to a snooty community steakhouse was a big change for me and a hard transition. We were trained not to offer steak sauce because felt our hand cut steaks were perfect without anything added.

A man dining with his wife one night flipped his lid when I came back to ask if they needed anything and said it would have been nice if I'd offered some steak sauce. I told him I'd be glad to get him some but the establishment felt the steaks were delectable straight from the grill.

His tirade commenced and only got worse as I fumbled for the right answer. He told me he was disgusted with me giving him "Typical southside service" (as compared to downtown Atlanta dining) and should have expected  it from someone like me.

The top of my ear lobes immediately started to burn (the sign I get from being totally humiliated and spiritually blistered) and  left the table in tears. My manager had to take over the table  and for the life of me I couldn't stop crying. When another co worker would try and console or hug me, I just cried more.

It was just awful, but was a lesson well learned.

I may be a server or (as many say) "Just" a server but am a human being with feelings and if you cross that line without just provocation...that's on YOU, not me. I cried the rest of the night and was inconsolable.

I've never let a customer make me cry (and never will) since that horrible night. He was a horrible person, not me  and certainly wasn't worth draining my emotions and making me feel like a loser. He was a loser and most probably always will be.

Massey got her own "Trial by fire" last night.

None of my kids are perfect but all three have been brought up with a great work ethic and knowledge of the hospitality industry with having a "waitress" as a momma.

Massey can sometimes try me or get on my nerves but always at home not work. My kids all grew up with me working in restaurants and know the routine. "Don't bite the hand that feeds you".

Massey has really blossomed at her new job with me and everyone there absolutely loves her. She has several mommas now. She can still be a kid at home and do things that get on my nerves but when she's at work is focused and gives it her all.

Last night she ran a plate of food to the bar, unfortunately at the one time when our bartender (who also loves her) wasn't behind the bar and our manger was out front of the restaurant. He asked her for hot sauce (which we don't have) but offered him him some crushed red pepper. He declined her offer but she found a packet of  hot sauce in a drawer where one of the employees had stuck a packet of Texas Pete sauce when getting a meal on break from the food court. She took it back to the bar and the man was on his phone so she leaned over the wide bar and slid it to him and walked away so as not to interrupt him.

I came walking off the patio area back into the restaurant when the man came over asking me where the server with the short blonde hair was? I asked if I could help him and immediately pointed his finger at me and began to tirade with a lot of profanity that she had "Tossed " a packet of hot sauce at him and was bull sh*t. About the same time Massey came out of the kitchen and once he again pointed, this time at her and continued  his verbal assault."This is bull sh*t and don't ever throw anything at me again!"

Massey was mortified and I felt the top of her ear lobes burning for her. He went on for a good ten seconds and my first response was to slap him but couldn't. We were at work, co workers not mother and daughter and no one witnessed this but her and me.

Massey immediately said "I'm so sorry, you were on your phone and didn't want to interrupt you."

He was an ass. I knew it but was also mortified by the verbal and finger pointing assault less than five inches from my face and directed at my kid. I held it in and apologized once again, Massey fled back to the kitchen.

Massey immediately went out the back door of the restaurant and found the manager, told him what had just transpired as I went behind the bar and told the returning bartender the same. Both said had they heard it, he'd be bounced out the door.

By this time she was in emotional shambles in the back and wet faced. I begged her to go behind the bar to remove a bus tub and hopefully get another cussing out from him while the bartender was there to hear.

No go.

She remained in the back until he left.

As much as I wanted to, I said nothing to him but know  Karma has our back.

She cried the rest of the night, cried the entire ride home and then some.

I've been there almost two years and this was the first ugly experience I've had. My daughter's been there about nine months and has been inducted to waiting on the public with "Trial by fire" the hard way.

It took her almost twenty four hours to get over and will most probably never forget it, much like the rude man who told me I gave him typical southside service when not offering steak sauce.

Here's the thing.

When people are complete ass wipes just need to remind yourself...  they are obviously,  totally and miserably unhappy and you're not.

We got this!

Monday, January 4, 2016

New Year Heard!

Sometimes the years seem to blur together but not so with the past few. They stand out like a beacon, like a light that showed me the way.

Massey and I went to meet our former manager from work a few weeks ago to have dinner and drinks. It was awesome seeing him, I was crazy about having him as a boss and once Massey started working there she quickly felt the same. He was a stern boss but a fair one. He led by example and constantly urged you to be better at your job by constructive criticism and encouragement. He made me a nervous wreck when I first started at the airport. I thought he didn't like me but totally understood why he constantly corrected me, I was a fish out of water and way out of my league. It took literally at least three months before I began to feel comfortable about my job performance and mostly due to his constantly correcting and telling me how to perform my duties with perfection. I work for a five star upscale restaurant and customers demand (as they should) five star service.

While we were eating dinner that night the conversation veered into something about one of my kids. My former boss was chuckling about whatever story I was telling but then said something that struck me like a lightning bolt.

He told me one of the things he liked about me the most was that I was a fighter,  I fought for my kids and encouraged them to fight as well.

I liked that compliment, and after looking back at the last few years tend to agree with him.

When your back's against a wall, there's nothing you can do but come out swinging and throw your hardest punches hoping at least a couple of them land solidly and make a difference in your battle.

No wonder my hands and knuckles look so bad.

For a couple of years we borrowed from Peter to Pay Paul and even gratefully accepted charity from friends and family. Just as I began to feel the knot at the end of the rope we were clinging to, I got a job offer at the airport (thanks to my good friend, Tia) and everything turned around.

I had to borrow a vehicle (thanks Susan) to even go for  my security and FBI background check and once cleared borrowed numerous vehicles for the first four months I worked there. I bummed rides from friends and hitched rides with others. I ended up buying one of the borrowed vehicles and then when my husband got a great job offer bought another one of the borrowed used vehicles to move him out to Texas where his job sent him.

Here's what I've learned at the tender age of over half a century.

Be a good person, you don't have to be perfect...no one is but if you give you get. I am far beyond flawed and no where near perfect but can swing like a slugger when it's the bottom of the ninth, bases loaded with two outs and a full count.

You may strike out but you might knock it out of the park. You'll never know unless you swing with all your might.

Tonight was slow at work, like an international ghost town. One of my fellow co workers even commented "You know it's dead if even Kelly's walking slow, she never does." and he's right, I don't.

I hurry from the time I get into my car at home, out of my car at work in the parking garage to the time I clock out. I live my life in a hurry because you never know how much time you have.

I try and make every table I wait on a high priority and connect with them. I treat every employee, from the shuttle driver who picks me up in the parking garage to the woman who cleans the toilets in the airport to the woman who takes  my twelve dollars when I leave the parking garage like a friend of mine, because they are. I treat the dishwashers at work as equals because we are. I speak to every cook, utility person and learn their story while telling them mine. I work hard from the minute I clock in until the minute I clock out because that's what I'm paid to do.

It's not a perfect world or job and a few people don't like me but I take it as a back handed compliment. If they don't like me it's most probably because everyone else does and that's their problem not mine.

This new year, this 2016 is going to be terrific because after well over half a century I finally figured it out.

Swing hard, love deep, never give up and you'll always be a winner.

I'm still in the race and have a long way to go but think I'll cross the finish line. I may not be first place but will certainly show.

Til next time...COTTON

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Bring It !!

The past year flew by so quickly, can't believe it's over!

The year began with my husband moving a thousand miles away for work but ended up with him being able to spend Christmas with all of us here.

A pretty good way to end the year if you ask me. Bonus points he'll be transferring closer to home soon and once promoted will be joining him.

For the first time in over five years we were doing well enough to actually enjoy Christmas and give gifts without worrying about how we'd pay for them.

TJ and his new family weren't able to come up from Orlando but at least spent Thanksgiving with them there. The rest of our crazy eclectic family all came to our house for the day and what a day it was!

After a solid week of rain the skies finally cleared and were able to spend much of the day outdoors. My nephew's gave my brother a Georgia Tech Corn Hole game and made a bracket for our tournament.

 It was a "Hole" lot of laughter, fun and went on for several hours.

Massey and my brother ended up being the champions after a long four hour tournament and many team adjustments as people came and left. Let me just say it's not easy standing next to my brother when you toss, he's quite the character and doesn't mind screaming or shoving you when it's your turn...or at least mine.

My husband's parents stopped by to visit as well. They are as reserved as we are crazy and opted for staying inside at the kitchen table eating while we all advanced to the next bracket. Luckily we had a spread fit for a king. Ham, turkey, smoked salmon, pulled pork, brunswick stew, potato salad, asparagus casserole and plenty of other finger foods along with tons of sweets made by everyone. I love my in laws but think they probably get back into their car to go home and say Tim married into a nutty bunch. That's okay, I like being a nut!

For the first time in years I was able to give decent gifts to the people who mean the most to me in the world besides my own immediate family. My brother and sister.

My brother now lives in an amazing lake house in Orlando where we now spend Thanksgiving.

See his front door on the right side of the room? I decided he needed a glass storm door so he could open it and let the glorious sun of Orlando into his living room. I measured the door at Thanksgiving and went to Lowe's here in Newnan and bought him a glass door. I was kind of worried he might not like  or even thought of having one but when he opened the huge wrapped door on Christmas Day actually said he'd been meaning to get one and was the exact door he'd been looking at.

I was hoping my sister would like her present just as much. Words can't express how much she means to me. Simply put, she's my glue. She helps me keep my life together every day in every way and has done for me more than I could ever possibly do for her. She was pretty much a single mom for quite a few years and raised her two sons while working full time. She loves her boys and so do I.

I found a website where they make stackable rings with names engraved and had her a set made with both her boys names. Unbeknownst to me, my daughter also bought me a mother's ring with all three of my own kid's birthstones.

It was an awesome day with awesome people. My family. There's not a group of people I would rather be related to or love than the eclectic clan which I am fortunate enough to be a (craziest) part of.

When I'm with my brother and sister, I'm always smiling (even if we're at a funeral) and always feel tremendously loved. Both my wonderful parents are gone but left me in excellent hands with Cindy and Chris as sibs.  They have both taken care of me (and sometimes my own family) when I couldn't; they  never batted an eye or made me feel like a charity case even though I felt that way.

To be part of a family that knows the meaning of being a family is the greatest gift a person can have in life.

Webster's defines family as "Two or more people who share share goals, values and have commitments to one another."

I'm one lucky person to be one part of the above three and hope  both know how very very much I love and admire them.

I'm even more lucky to have been one part of this group below of five.

Webster's also defines family as "A group of individuals derived from a common stock."

I've learned that friends are family too. Friend, also being defined by Webster's as "A person with whom one is allied in a struggle or cause; a comrade"  is exactly what I've been surrounded with my entire life and most probably another reason we've made it this far.

So I've made it almost fifty six years with the help and love of many...literally.

We've rebounded from a financial abyss, made tremendous strides forward , been supported and urged on every step of every day and now truly understand the meaning of life.

I'm a happy woman, blessed beyond belief and extremely grateful for it. If I woke up tomorrow and had to start all over again, I would and could.

It was a most excellent Christmas and can't wait to see what 2016 brings.

Til next time...COTTON