Friday, July 29, 2016

It's Just Wrong

My first year working at the airport I rode MARTA to work but got old quick. It added four hours to every work day...four hours I didn't get paid for. Once I got my finances in order, bills caught up and was netting a pretty hefty salary began parking at the international terminal and knocked three hours off each work day. It was almost worth the twelve bucks a day for the convenience alone and made my day easier. I could leave my house just fifty minutes before work and get there usually ten minutes early and be home well over a hour earlier. When you're my age and work as hard as I do, that's a small price to pay.

 Plus there were several of the shuttle drivers I really liked a lot and always looked forward to seeing them. When I'd make ridiculously good money on a shift would sometimes tip them five or ten bucks. At Christmas I'd give them a twenty. They always asked about Massey if she wasn't with me. They were genuinely good people. Once Massey started working there we split the parking so really only cost me six bucks anyway.

Then a new parking deck opened on the other side of the interstate and offered an opening rate of $8.25 per day. A couple of my coworkers began parking there and raved about it. Unlike the deck where I parked (find a spot to park walk to the elevator and catch the shuttle) the new one picked you up at your car and took you to the terminal. On returning after work dropped you off right at your car. The very first week they changed their minds and decided to not allow employees to use their lot...passengers only.

After a month of being open and never filling up once, flip flopped and decided to let us park there. I just kept parking where I always had, paying four dollars more per day. Then one of the girls at work told me they once again decided to let employees use the lot. I was one of the last ones to switch but had to admit saving almost twenty bucks a week was worth it. About the third time I parked they told me when entering that if employees wanted to park there, they had to sign up for the rewards program online and get a card to use in the mail. I was okay with that. You park seven days and get one free. You park forty days and get one week free.

Even better!!

So for the past two months we've been parking there. It was awesome. Covered parking and picked you up at your vehicle. After work they took you right back to your car and even gave you a free bottle of water on your way out.

About a month ago we began to hear from the drivers that a few  employees were causing some problems. Most were employees of an airline who has their  own designated free  parking. Some would get on the bus to go to work and complain when the driver kept stopping to pick up others at their car, saying they were running late for work. One woman in particular who I rode with several times just couldn't seem to get it that you had to hand the driver the little card you had been given after being picked up at your car when getting back on the shuttle after work so they would know exactly which parking space you were in and where to let you out. She's sit on the shuttle shouting that they kept skipping her car when in fact they didn't even know where she had parked because she never gave them the card. She sat with it in her hand. We tried several times to explain it to her but she just didn't get it. In other words...she's a nut case.

Two weeks ago when leaving one night they told me beginning July 25 airport employees were not going to be allowed to park there.


On July 26 I tried anyway. I didn't have on my airport badge and drove up, putting my rewards card into the machine. The girl opened the window and immediately said "Hey Miss Kelly."

So much for always chatting with the attendants...they all knew me.

I smiled and said "I'm flying to Paris today, where do you want me to park?" She said she was so sorry but unless I could show her a boarding pass she couldn't let me in the lot.

Number one, you know how many people check in online and go to a kiosk inside the terminal to get their boarding pass printed off?

Number two, she was very nice and said would love to let me in but could lose her job
so I relented.

Number three, okay maybe some employees were causing some problems but I wasn't one of them. Actually since starting to park there, Massey and I both each tipped the driver a buck on the way in and a buck on the way out so were still paying twelve dollars a day to park but with more convenience.

Number four, if employees are causing problems, have them sign a waiver saying will adhere to all the rules and act in a professional manner when using their service. I'd be more than willing to do so.

So now I'm back at ParkRide. That's okay too. Now I have to hunt for a spot to park, hike it to the elevator and go down to the shuttle and do it all in reverse after work but have kind of missed my friends who drove me.

Then I hear at work that  FastPark is allowing airport employees with badges that say "Crew" to still park there for $8.25.

Here's my thing.

So pilots and fight attendants ...who have access to free (albeit a couple of miles away) parking and shuttle buses which take them directly to the gate where they work can park there but people like me who have no designated parking can't?

That's flat out discrimination and it's not right.

I'll give them this...

I never witnessed it until the other week when riding back with them before they cut us off. I was by myself after work. There were about four or five airline (with available free parking of their own in another lot) employees who obviously all worked together riding the shuttle. There were three passengers riding as well. The woman who was driving the shuttle was trying to tell the passengers how it worked when we got back to the lot and to listen for their parking space to be called so they would know when to get off. The airline employees were all showing each other videos on their phones or cackling loud about something at work and one employee even rolled her eyes when the driver asked them to quiet down, for the second time. The passengers couldn't hear what parking space was being called out and those employees seemed to have couldn't cared less.

It was embarrassing to me, especially considering not one of the rude employees tipped a single dollar to the woman who was so graciously dropping them off exactly where their car was parked.

So here's my thinking:

If employees want to park there, have them agree in writing to adhere to the rules of conduct or be bounced from the bus but don't blame the whole basket of apples for a few rotten ones, they all have them.

My money is as green as the traveler's and Crew member's.

But to build a parking lot not located on airport property and refuse to let some airport employees park there but allow some to is wrong no matter how you look at it.

Since I'm transferring to the  Orlando airport to work , called the FastPark in Orlando to ask if employees could park in their lot.

The answer I got (verbatim) was "Anyone can park in our lot".

So the same company has different rules for Atlanta? That doesn't seem right either.

Neither does the fact they flip flopped three times on whether or not we could park there to begin with.

I may be leaving in just over a month's time but this really gets to me, for all the people who will still be working there. We pay the same amount as anyone else and should have the same rights.

I've decided to put my writing skills to work and draft a letter of opposition to their business practice. I'm sending a copy to FastPark, the County Business Authority, the Mayor of Atlanta and local Atlanta TV stations.

As for FastPark, the slow season is about to start and trust me, they will see a huge drop in business. They won't need over half the shuttles they use now which means some of their own  employees will most probably lose their jobs as well.

Corporate greed at it's finest.

I'm a little bulldog when I get hold of something I want, and I want what's right.

I almost feel like calling an attorney who went to highschool with my husband and letting him file a class action suit.

On a brighter note, all my old ParkRide shuttle bus drivers have told me how much they have missed us and welcomed me back with smiles and hugs.

Reminded me of the old adage...

"You Get What You Pay For"

I wouldn't go back to FastPark now, even if they begged me. The $8.25 per day was just an opening rate and will soon go up to $11.00 anyway.

Come to think of it, I'd pay a buck extra any day of the week to ride with a friend.

Til next time...Cotton the Bulldog

Monday, July 25, 2016

Well That Was Painful

So got up for work yesterday morning and the minute I went to sit up knew it was "back" or maybe should  say "out".

Every since I hit the fifty year old mile marker my back goes out for no apparent reason, about once every two or three years.

Well, I know why just never know when.

Number one, serving is a very physical job if you're not a slacker and one thing I can say with conviction is I'm no slacker.

Number two, am willing to tackle pretty much any job which needs to be done. I've cut down and hauled away four trees in our yard since Tim moved away and work in the yards like a broke Latino landscaper. No disrespect to Latinos, they're the hardest working peeps I know. "Lazy Latino" is a total oxymoron in my book.

So about every three years my back goes out. It takes my mind off my right shoulder which always hurts and my left knee which goes in and out as well and the undiagnosed but surely carpal tunnel in my right wrist.

When you're my age and work like I  have (and do) simply feel grateful to wake up at all in the morning. I've started making sure I have clean underwear on every night before going to sleep just in case.

Kind of like when your mom told you to always wear clean underwear in case you were in an accident and had to be taken to the hospital.

I think it's mainly a 'southern thing' but have always agreed with the concern.

So I got in a steaming hot shower and let it scald my back bright pink. Then I turned the water to cold and took it as long as I could stand it.

Then I got Zach to massage my back for a couple of minutes before popping two Advils and getting ready for work.

By five o'clock the pain almost took my breath away. I had cold chills running up my neck and took every minute I could in the back of the kitchen leaning over and stretching, hands dragging the floor like a monkey.

Another co worker did a little Karate chopping on my lower back and felt wonderful. By seven the manager said he was cutting me from the floor and to go home. I nixed that idea, although grateful for his offer. My general manager even went downstairs to the CNN store (kinda like a gift shop and convenience store) to see if they sold Icy/Hot patches. That was a negative but bought me some Excedrin Extra Strength. Too bad I didn't have hemorrhoids, they did sell Preparation H.

If I left and went home, my back would still  hurt but wouldn't be making money so chose to let it hurt while I made money.

Have I mentioned I'm stubborn?

Massey and I had driven separately, I had to be there earlier. I got lucky and got to leave around eight thirty after making almost $300 and was hurting at home by nine thirty.

My heating pad was in my bedroom on the third floor of the house so grabbed a towel out of the laundry room by the kitchen and heated it in the oven. Sat in a chair with it against my back til it cooled then filled my ice pack (which was in the kitchen) and let that sit against my back for another thirty minutes. Repeated the process three or four times and tumbled off to bed.

My airport badge expires every year on my birthday and unfortunately can't through security without it. I usually do it around the first of July but kept putting it off until ten days before expiration. Number one, no one likes going to the badging office. It's a nightmare any time of day you go. Number two is a minimum two trip process to begin with.

I got my manager to get my paperwork from HR when he went to his weekly manager's meeting a couple of weeks ago so at least didn't have to make that dreaded trek as well. I work out at the new international terminal on concourse F. Human Resources is located in the upstairs of T concourse.

This will show you how far the trip is and why I hate making it.

The badging office is located even further back than T , at ground transportation in the entrance to the domestic terminal.

I woke up the next morning and felt quite a bit better so decided to go into work early with Massey at ten and make the trek. I didn't have to work until three so figured that gave me plenty of time.

You'd think.

We parked and took the shuttle to the international terminal. We both went through security and she headed for work. I went downstairs and headed for the plane train back to ground transportation with all my paperwork. I had to be finger printed for an FBI background check. Then after they sent the prints off would be notified by HR they were back and could return to the badging office to get my new badge. The office closes for lunch from 11:45 until 1:00 so figured I was okay.

I wasn't.

I stood in the line like cattle being herded to  slaughter and inched my way forward for thirty minutes. I made it to the lady at the desk  with ten minutes to spare! I handed her my paperwork and two forms of ID. She didn't even look up at me but said "Oh, you need to be fingerprinted. We stop doing that at eleven, you'll need to come back at one." I took my paperwork back and turned to leave, then decided to ask her why they don't let us know they stop at eleven? She still didn't look up... just said "It's posted on all the signs" and vaguely waved towards the crowded hallway where the rest of the cattle were.

I was pretty ticked.

I left, took the elevator back downstairs and walked all the way back to the atrium and went back through security for the second time. Then I headed downstairs for the plane train and traveled from ground transportation to T concourse, then to A concourse, then to B concourse, then C and then D. Glitch on the plane train but then on to E and finally back to F concourse where I work. Went up to the third floor and across the atrium to the restaurant and got my lunch box. I sat in the food court and ate crackers with peanut butter and drank a coke. I sat and checked my email and bank account. I went to the restroom and then headed back for the badging office (which opened again at one) by twelve thirty.

Did it all again in reverse for the second time.

Got there at 12:55.

There were already fifty people in line. I rejoined the herd.  This time I paid attention to every poster or sign posted. I watched the TV in the corner of the hallway ceiling playing the instructional video of what documents and paperwork were necessary or accepted.

Not one sign, poster or video ever mentioned they stopped fingerprinting forty five minutes before they closed for lunch each day.

My back started to ache again. I quit facing forward with the rest of the cattle and stood with my back to the wall and pushed my shoulders back to touch it. That made me feel a little better... but not much.

At 1:45 one of the women seated behind the elusive desk we all wanted to reach said "Next six people" and lucky for me was number six.

I made it in.

Even  more lucky, I got the other woman this time and she was surprisingly pleasant. My paperwork was looked at along with my two forms of ID and was directed to yet another line for payment. I started to bring up the fact there was absolutely no sign or any indication fingerprinting stopped at eleven but decided against it.

You catch more flies with honey than vinegar and my fly was just about caught.

FBI background checks are fifty bucks and a security badge is sixty. Luckily I work for the only concessionaire who pays for both but still have to stand in line to have it processed.

Another ten minute wait in line to (not) pay and was good to go! All I have to do now is wait for my fingerprints to come back and can then do this all again but even get to take a little test first on airport regulations and hospitality.

...bitch please!

So I headed back for the elevator a second time, went down and all the way back to employee security for the third time. Stood in yet another line, went through and hiked it down to the plane train and back to concourse F with twenty minutes to spare and clocked in to begin my work shift.

There has got to be a better way.

The entire debacle reminded me of a shirt I gave one of my bosses on his last day at the Crazy House as our Sous Chef.

My back didn't feel so great but around eight o'clock suddenly realized it wasn't hurting at all. I think a lot of it is stress. I've been worried about waiting so late to get my badge renewed and even more worried about where we're going to live when us Clampetts move to Orlandy.

I was off the next day and the ache was still there a bit so took it easy for the first part of the day, doing the heating pad / ice pack rotation.

Then like a dummy went out and cut the yards front and back and pushed the small areas ole Johnny Dear can't reach. My back still felt tender but better. I think skipping slinging Mr. Weed Eater around helped.

Cooked dinner and did some cleaning but crashed around one AM, early for me. I woke up around six and the ache was back in full force. I stood it as long as I could then finally got up and stretched for five minutes. Then I went downstairs, let a pup out who wanted to go and filled my ice pack. I took two extra strength Ibuprofen and went back to bed where my heating pad was plugged in by my bed. I alternated the hot/cold for about two hours and it finally relaxed around ten and slept pretty good for a couple of hours. I got up and staggered to a steaming hot shower and boiled my back for a minute or two. Then turned the water to cold and froze for another minute or so.

Made it to work with five minutes to spare (which is late for me) and luckily had a slow easy peasy shift. Had a full lunch box, four sandwiches, crackers and peanut butter and chocolate bars and snacked through the entire shift, sharing with my co workers. (they call me Snax)

Back's still not back but is still better. Trust me, I know...been there done that many times over the past five years. I bought a pack of Icy Hot pads and as long as I continue to stretch my back, legs and arms will be just fine.

When you grow older you re-learn your body and learn what you need to do to survive in it.

And if there's one thing I am, it's a Survivor.

Trust me, if a a fifty six year old woman can put up with all it takes to work at the world's busiest Crazy House, I truly am a survivor.

Til next time...COTTON

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Coming Into The Homestretch

The closer Labor Day gets the  more I am almost relieved will be my last day working at the world's busiest airport.

Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love  my job, will never work for a better company than Fifth Group Restaurants and always appreciate everything they've allowed me to become as a server and attain for myself and my family.

  But let me tell you a few things I won't miss.

Number one it's a freaking daily nightmare just getting to the job!  Parking is the biggest money maker at the airport and with no airport employee parking for us servers better be glad I'm cleaning up on almost every shift. Of course they're cleaning up too, taking almost $3,000 from me annually for parking.

Totally redonkulous if you ask me considering the billions I'm helping them make by working there.

I won't miss working for a place that has a Union which totally enables poor attendance and work ethic. Yeah, it's supposed to be in place to help people who are wronged but does the opposite most all of the time, helps lazy people keep their job by doing the bare minimum but always know every number of call out or no shows they can have in a thirty day period before they lose their job and use every stinking one of them every stinking month.

I guess if you have a really crappy job, it's the bonus that makes you take the crappy job, knowing you can simply not even show up for work two days in a row without even calling and still  keep your job, if you show up the third day and only do it once every thirty one days.

That even sounds  insane, but trust me after working there for two and a half years have witnessed it at least once on a daily basis. That's pretty pathetic when people spend more time learning how to get out of a job than doing their job.

It seems like a lot of money for people to to have taken out of their check just so you can sometimes, occasionally take care of and fight for the actual legitimate victims wronged.

Maybe it's just because I'm fifty six, but what does that say about our future fifty six year olds?

Don't get me wrong, HMS has been wonderful to me. It also helps I make it easy for them. I show up on time, work hard and (trust me) my name is known by the higher ups (in a good way) and will be more than helpful in my transfer. The great thing about working for a global company is the benefits and for the first time in fifteen years have them all.

Who knows? I may love the Orlando airport, make good money and have time left over to pursue my dream of writing. 

Number three I've finally realized the whole logistics of my (best ever) job is wearing me out.

If I had found this job when I was a thirty year old server, we'd be comfortably retired by now.


And I'm even in better shape than most of the younguns I work with.

"Damn you, timing!"

It's been the glorious answer, ends to our means and taught me more than I've ever learned about serving in my almost thirty seven year career... but is definitely wearing me slap out. 

The thing I like the most about this job right about now is that will be over with in seven weeks and three days.

Not that I'm counting.

I'm going to hang around for the Olympics. Should be (and already is) stellar money and will bow out grateful and graciously as the busy travel season dies down after Labor Day.

I'm not sure how our family would have made it this far without my job which enabled Tim to cruise on up in his own new job, having to move halfway across the country for two years but am grateful every morning I wake up and no one is knocking on our door to tell us they are cutting off utilities or not answer the phone because I already know who it is and how much we owe them.

I went into work today and the big boss from HMS was there talking with the managers of Ecco. He stopped me to ask if was still planning on leaving? He said I needed to go by Human Resources and apply for a transfer to the Orlando airport. He had already told them of my intentions and had the paper ready.

I'm transferring with HMS who runs concessions in airports all over the world. I'm not transferring with Fifth Group who owns Ecco. They only (unfortunate for me) operate in Atlanta.

A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do...especially when she's a wife and momma.

Yes I'll probably be working at a Chili's or OutBack but will still have all my same seniority status, benefits... which include dental, medical, life, disability and vision insurance for myself, Massey and Zachary for less than two hundred dollars a month.

That's the deal breaker right there holding me hostage at the Orlando airport.

At least at first.

But even better is our family will be together again after well over three tumultuous (yet) tremendous years.

Even though I'm totally a 'dog' person, am much like a cat in ways. I'll chase something around like crazy if I want it bad enough and have luckily always landed on my feet.

That's okay too.

I have really tough feet but can also fight like a dog.

I'm just taking it one day at a time now. Show time is right around the corner.

I'm picking and packing up the family left here in the matter of less than two weeks and moving it all to Orlando or Melbourne or Cocoa or St Cloud to a house we'll pick in less than two days time.

Sounds crazy to do but being crazy is my forte'.

So yet another day has passed or maybe two. I went into work today and was pleasantly surprised with a repeat offender (what we jokingly call returning guests) being seated at my table.

Coolest dude in the world, making a real difference. He encourages and uplifts our future generation with the message of "One Love" with his one world children chorus. The video below is from a cancer center event for youngins here in the States.

These are the kind of celebrities I enjoy meeting the most.

So since beginning this post I believe almost five days have gone by, but will just continue on with my thoughts.

My immediate goal is to survive the next eight weeks.

All I need is a job I love almost as much as Ecco and  make enough money to pay for us all three of us to go on Tim's insurance (which is a bit more pricey) and have some left to get by with.

Sounds like a plan to me.

Regardless, is the one I'm currently furiously chasing and you know me..."I'll land on my feet.

Massey and I got back to the car after work last night and in her usual millennium fashion asked me to take selfie with her ... because we hadn't taken a work one together in a while.

So I did.

Looking back over the past year have come to the conclusion I am one extremely lucky woman and for many reasons.

One of them is being lucky enough to have worked side by side with my youngest for over a year and even while she lived with me.

That was a bond forming year for sure and one most mommas aren't fortunate enough to experience.

I got her a job with me bussing tables and running food where I work. It's pretty physically demanding if done right... and she did it more than right.

We're co workers at work and always keep it that way. Many fellow employees never even knew she was my daughter until someone mentioned it, often months after her starting there. I've been more than amazed at what a great job she does.

Thrown suddenly into a grown up environment and the dog eat dog world of  a restaurant job.

She's made more money than she ever has before and earned every penny of it. She paid her entire way through college last year and just bought her first car on her own.

She's learned respect and earned respect. Best two values you can have in life.

She's been by my side every step of the way, five days a week this past year. We don't always agree but always hug after disagreeing.  I know I'm not the easiest person to have for a mom, I'm a maniac but at least know it.

Sometimes I get extremely frustrated at work with the apathetic employees, unfortunately we have a few.

I need to take a step back from the big picture and remember what one of my managers once told me.

"Keep doing the job the same way you are, make your money and don't worry about the rest."

Seven weeks to go now. Gotta stay positive, negativity drags you down.

The  job has much more good about it than than bad. That's a blessing in itself.

Til next time...COTTON

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Make New Friends But Keep The Old

When I first met my friend, Tia was when I started working at my last job for Mama Lucia's. This was the crew one night when we had a going away party for another co worker there.

Tia and I hit it off from from the jump... what's not to love about her? Our political views are polar opposites and that's just fine with us both.

(note to hundreds of millions, that's the way it should be)

We became good friends and visited in each other's home numerous times. She even gave us our black Boxer (former Little Houdini) Ziggy. Oh trust me, I told her every horror story when Ziggy was a puppy  juvenile delinquent. She laughed a little too much at every single story but I still love her.

I think the nicest thing she ever did for me (and she's done a lot) is when I was still working with her at Mama Lucia's and Tim and I were flatter that flat broke. She offered to loan us her tax returns.

Trust me, she knew how broke we were and that could be a good possibility we may  never even get back to the point of being able to return the loan but made the offer anyway.

That last sentence is the exact definition of a "True Friend" and with Tia, I have one.

Then she got a great new job at the new international terminal at the Atlanta Airport and we didn't see each other quite as often.

Then a little over a year later she called me up one night on her ride home from work. Tim and I were still below flatter than flat and sinking faster.

That one phone call totally changed the course of my entire family's life. I owe this woman for saving me from a possible plunge off the ledge. I owe her for helping save my marriage.

 I'll be honest, I was in a bad spot (worse than the financial spot)  and the strain it was taking on my marriage was brutal and way too close to demise.

...but look at us now.

I can say I'm happier with Tim today than I have been in almost a decade and feel secure in the fact we will grow old together if God Graciously let's us.

Then my daughter, Massey gets a job at our restaurant too and suddenly she and Tia were like peas and carrots. (Forrest Gump)

After a fun two and a half year run working with her again, tonight was her last shift. She's doing much like we are and packing up the family and moving somewhere totally different to start a new life together.

I did okay when we all met for lunch before work. Massey couldn't be there, had to work early but Tia, Sister Bitch (another blog altogether but coming very soon to a monitor near you) and I sat for over one hour laughing, talking , reminiscing and talking about "what if's".

Tonight after work... it was the real deal.

All four of us walked out together clucking like hens, cussing like drunk sailors and calling each other names after eleven o'clock, the last servers to leave.

And now, we will never do that again.
(I teared up at that last sentence)

Massey did okay until we all got off the shuttle bus back at the parking lot. Sister Bitch had her cry with Tia in the back hallway at work near the end of our shift. I teared up when we all walked out of security together but reigned it in.

We had all parked pretty close together. Massey and I got off with Tia but Sister Bitch rode the extra hundred feet to her car staying on the shuttle.

I think I'm glad she did...and she probably is too.

We hugged and said we loved each other. There's not a lot you can say which means more.

I did hug her a second time, held her for a second too long and teared up, no stopping it now.

I told her "Thank You" for getting me my wonderful, insane and crazy job.

She simply smiled, shrugged her shoulders like she always does, hugged me back and said "Thanks for finally taking the chance!".

Massey got in our car and pretty immediately started a snot factory. I couldn't see her because it was dark, I'm half bind and a nervous night time driver but knew she was crying.

I've done a lot of things wrong in my life, way too many to count but can say am pretty good at two things.

Being a waitress and being a momma. Wife fell back a few pegs but rebounding quickly!

Massey has the hugest heart and deepest soul I've ever known for a kid her age. Come to think, she may BE adopted for all I know. They had me knocked out from the emergency C Section so don't ask me for confirmation that's she's even mine.

What I do know...  is that she is an extremely good judge of character,  picks and chooses friends wisely and loves fiercely.

Guess I did alright.

What's even worse is I have to still do this all again, twice. Once when Massey quits on the day before her badge expires and then again when I turn in my own badge after Labor Day.

I have many friends, good friends who I never see anymore.

I just hate adding to the list.

It's been a Golden two and a half years...that's for sure.

Til next time...COTTON

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Best Fourth and Hardest Seventh

Massey and her friend drove down to Orlando on June 29 to start her much deserved eight day vacation with her dad and Uncle. Zachary and I drove down early on the third of July for a four day stay as well. My sister and her husband drove down the same day and arrived a few hours after us.

My brother has an awesome house on Lake Mary Jane and is a most excellent host. There were eight of us staying with him and had the red carpet rolled out for us all.

Boat rides in the sunshine and tubing for the younger ones. Tim's wary of the gators but Zachary jumped right in to go tubing. We stopped one day off a small island called Bird Island and anchored in four foot water and cooled off. Tim was the last one to get in but with the scorching sun and seven other people for possible bait finally joined us.

That night our oldest son who now also lives in Orlando came over for dinner with his fiancee' and their two young daughters. Zach, our younger son cooked for all of us and did a knock out job. He even bought all the groceries for the meal and was a wonderful fun filled night.

I got to spend time with our new grand daughter who recently turned one and is cute as a button.

I think she already knows I'm crazy but that's okay, just means she's smart!

My sister hasn't spent much time around her either but we had a ball getting to know her together.

I don't think I've seen Tim (ole Jed) as happy for over half a decade. It felt good to see him genuinely happy...and he should be. He has rocked his new job out of the park and in two years  has been promoted three times. His latest promotion was a pretty big one and what will allow us the opportunity to live in comfort when the rest of us join him in early September and purchase our new home.

I took the above pic of him on the plane train at the airport the day I took him to leave for his flight to Texas and his first promotion. This is the picture of a man doing what he had to do for his family, move a thousand miles away for almost two years to provide for us.

I have a pretty awesome husband, although has taken me a solid three years for it to finally register.

It was a hard nine year struggle and had a lot more arguments than we had fun. Sometimes I felt like giving up. Sometimes I wondered if I still even liked or loved him?

It took me more than a minute but remembered what the preacher had said to us on that hot day in September back in 2000 out by the pool at Tim's parent's house when we married.

"For better or worse, richer or poorer."

Besides that, who am I to walk away from a challenge?

It got ugly at times, and then got even more ugly. Every time he came home from Texas  (three times) we had heated arguments. I was frustrated being at home having to work and take care of everything on this end. I felt kind of jealous all he had to do out in Texas was go to work and go home to his apartment to sleep.

I still had two of our three kids at home, three dogs to take care of and a house which needed all kind of repair and upkeep, not to mention was now in charge of paying all bills except insurance and mortgage.

Once comfortable and finding the groove at my new job, it was pretty easy. For some reason actually having the money to pay bills makes it a no brainer.

This past weekend in Orlando was the first visit we've had since this whole debacle began which never involved ugly words or finger pointing (mostly...maybe mainly on my part) but was so relaxing and totally enjoyable.

It's nice to be in love with your husband again.

Two totally opposite personalities but one against all odds. You're either in a marriage or you're not. I'm a lucky gal he remembered his vows as well.

Zach and I drove home, straight shot with one five minutes stop  for gas.

Massey stayed in Florida a few days longer but Zach and I both went straight back to work the next day before noon. He left around ten and I left around twelve thirty.

I did the usual dog swap gig, we're used to it now.

Ziggy and Ham don't get along anymore now that Ham is totally blind. Ziggy's personality is more than buoyant, much like me... and Ham is totally my husband, "Ole Jed". Charlie, our white bulldog is Switzerland, neutral either way.

I had the house pretty cleaned up, packed my lunch box and scooted out the door, no minutes to spare. Zach would probably be home around six to check on the dogs anyway.

Even Massey's room looked pretty good, I'd asked her to clean it before she left last week.

It was busy at work and didn't get off until after ten. Got a text from Zach "You left Ham locked in Massey's room".

Zach ended up staying late at work and didn't get home until ten.


Holy Shiitake...

Took me two hours and four garbage bags to clean up. The ole boy went NUTS. I felt worse because it was my fault.

Almost ten hours alone in a room, knew we were all gone and couldn't see one inch from his useless eyes.

What if he had to protect our house? Wonder if they were hurt and needed a lick? Wonder if they remember they left me locked in this room?

I promised Ham, who looked awfully tired when I got home that it would never happen again.

So tomorrow is one of my favorite co worker's last day at the job. Actually, she's the one who got me my job.

She's moving to Idaho and beginning her new adventure with her own family of four, plus two dogs and a cat.

I think this job has afforded many of us many opportunities we'd otherwise never had and for that will be eternally grateful.

So I am dropping Massey off for her mid shift tomorrow at one and meeting up with Tia (above) and another fellow heifer from work for a going away lunch before our last shift together.

When you work at the airport, what better place to go fuel up than...

the Barbeque Kitchen.

Sweet iced tea with a lime wedge and anything your heart could desire to eat, especially if you're from the south.

Then after a good meal and last 'Gab-fest' for quite a while or maybe even ever  will all head to the Crazy House for one last shift together. No worries, I'm packing leftover spaghetti, garlic bread and blueberry cobbler in my trusty lunch box for an after shift farewell meal.

The Last Dinner. OUR last dinner. It was a fantastic two and a half year ride.

They call me "Snax" at work.

I've been called a lot worse.

I like being the 'Go To'.

I always have medicine, snacks, gum, mints, bleach pens even finger cots or a sewing kit. I also carry stamps for peeps flying out of the country needing one and always have a few dollars to spare if someone else needs a hand up.

The people I work with and for, including the ones I meet along the way to and from genuinely seem to love me and love them all in return.

They were all part of my journey.

I came to this job a smoldering pile of ashes and almost out. One more tear drop could have extinguished us.

But it didn't.

I'm planning on the last (way over) half of my life being the greatest ever and going to  spend it with my family finally all in the same place. I'll miss the people I know here but know if they love me will stay in touch. It literally chokes me up to think of leaving the greatest job I've ever had but has also inspired me to realize the potential a person can have.

If you are a good person, you are loved.
If you try your best, the best will happen...maybe not on your time schedule but eventually.
Never expect something you're not willing to give of yourself.
Karma is a big fat bitch with a terrific memory.

This world is in a scary place in time. Take a step back and breathe. Think of what you can do to make things right instead of shaking your head at all the the things wrong.

Don't exclude but include.

You could easily be that other person no one will help. There are millions and millions of them out there, just as there are also millions and millions of them sucking the system dry. Be assured (the sucker's) life will never be as full and freeing for them as it will be for me.

As this latest chapter in my life ends, another will begin.
And it will be great!

I held on for a most excellent reason.

You simply have to if you want to get anywhere.

I got this...

Til next time, COTTON