Saturday, June 23, 2007

COVO Fourth of July BBQ

The following PSA has been sent out on the BBQ on the fourth:

Jake’s Diner and COVO (Central Oregon Veterans Outreach) are once again partnering for their third annual Fourth of July BBQ.

Blues artist Richard Taelour and son Ted along with their band will perform in Jake’s parking lot from 6PM till 8PM. BBQ ribs and chicken will be served by members of COVO starting at 6PM.

All profits from the event will go to COVO to assist them in finding shelter and help for homeless veterans.

Everyone is welcome to stick around after the event and watch the fireworks from the Jake’s parking lot.

Jake's Diner is located at 2210 NE Hwy 20 right behind Thomas Sales & Service. For more information, please call Lyle Hicks at 419-6021

I am looking forward to another great BBQ this year. Jimmy will be doing his popular BBQ Ribs and Chicken and anyone who has ever heard Richard Taelour knows that the entertainment will be great. His son, Ted, is a 15 year old phenom on the guitar.

An interesting twist this year will be that the 4th is on a Wednesday so we will probably have at least a few of the local car buffs in the lot with their cars.

For anyone who doesn't know, every Wednesday night at Jake's is Cruz in night with local cruisers showing off their classic and not so classic cars. It is a great night to just hang out and talk or to network with other car enthusiasts.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Memories (3)

Grubby Santas Need Love too

I sat in my office working through paperwork when a call came from the diner. “There is a guy named Larry here to see you.” Now I could only think of three Larry’s, two were friends from my church and one was an old school chum. Excited about getting away from the paperwork and having a cup of coffee with a buddy, I bounded down the steps and into the diner. Looking around, I saw none of the faces that I was looking for and turning to the door, there in front of me stood… Larry. Actually the smell hit me before the visual. Larry is a big man; his black stocking cap that I am sure was a light gray once was pulled over his head with the unwashed greasy hair spraying out below it. His gray beard and big belly made him look like a poor Santa. A beat up old sweater just barely covered his large belly and his trousers bore a huge urine stain on the front that I am sure was the prominent smell amongst others.

“I need your help, Lyle.” He said. “We couldn’t get the car out of the snow. We even pulled off the bumper trying. My wife and I need some where to stay until next Monday when I get paid.” I told him that I wasn’t sure what I could do but I would try and then asked him to stay in the hall so that I would know where he was. Actually, it was so that the stench would not be in the restaurant.

I called up an old friend of mine, Patty from St Vincent De Paul. Patty knows Christ’s grace and love to a much deeper degree than most of us and some day, I will write just about her. Patty knew exactly who I was talking about and told me that she could help but I needed to get them clean clothes and a bath before she could put them up in the Bethlehem Inn. She told me to get them down to their store and she would handle the clothes and that she would prepare the paperwork to get them into the inn.

I quickly assessed the situation and decided that they were not going to sit in my car so I needed another option. I looked across the road and saw the Goodwill sign and knew just what I was going to do. I told them to walk to Goodwill and get some clothes and when they got back, I would provide them with a shower and get them set up with a place to stay for the night.

A short time later, I was summoned by Kim, the GM, in the diner. He had heard about the smelly pair and asked what I was doing for them. After giving him the story, he told me that they were still sitting in the hallway. My immediate thought was that they were too lazy to walk over to Goodwill and I headed towards the hallway and a confrontation. If they weren’t going to help themselves, then I was not going to help.

They saw me coming and Larry stood up. “They turned us down at Goodwill, Lyle. Now what are we going to do?.”. With a sigh that I hope they did not see, I knew what I needed to do. Wait right here, I will be back for you.”, I told them. I again called Patty and informed her of what had happened. “I wondered what was going on”, she said, “You need to get them down to our store and we will take care of them.” “I guess that means that I need to take them in my car, huh?”, I inquired. With a chuckle, Patty told me, “Yes, that is what you have to do, Lyle.”.

The ride down to the store for me was horrible. A heavy snow was falling and splashing into my face through the gap that I had in my window to give me fresh air. I know that I was not much of a conversationalist as most of my time when I wasn’t holding my breath; I was somewhat gasping for air through that gap. After taking them down to the store and getting their clothes, I brought them back to the truck stop and set them up for a shower. I rolled down all of the windows in my car and sprayed with both Lysol and Fabreze to try and eliminate the smell that still lingered.

As I scrubbed on the seat that Larry had sat on; I wondered if this is what Christ meant in Mathew 24, when He talked about the least of these. Was he talking about Larry!? It’s easy to hug a sweet older lady who is lonely or to pick up a child who is crying even if his diaper is full. But when I shook Larry’s hand, I could not wait to get to a sink to wash and the thought of putting my arm around either of them was unthinkable.

Seeing through the sometimes repulsive exterior of someone like Larry and to see the person inside of him is a hard thing to do. That is why I am appreciate the men and women who help out in our local shelters who do that on a daily basis.

To all the men & women who man the Bethlehem Inn & the Sheppard’s House, Thank you and God Bless you.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Holdem for Habitat (2)

A busy Monday started with all the preparations needed for the night's game. I was pretty exhausted after the busy weekend, but felt that if I could get through the day, I could rest on Tuesday. It is now Thursday and I have found my first time alone to collect my thoughts.

The day started out with an interview on the Twins with KC and Ron. Ron was sick so KC and I talked back and forth about the event. When I arrived back at my office, I found a note to myself reminding me that I was suppose to take them breakfast that morning as it was the anniversary of the start of their morning show together. "Poor KC", I thought. Ron is sick and I forget breakfast. I try and call but she is far to busy running the show by herself so I leave that for another day (actually Tuesday but that is another story).

All the last minute details needed to find their time along with the normal operations (New cooks needed hiring, two of the grills were acting up, the glass top of a table on the deck needed replacing after being shattered in a wind gust, along with what always seems to be a never ending line of other things that need attention.)

Z21 calls and wants to interview. I set it up for 1PM to insure that we are through lunch first. I quickly contact my buddy, Frank Patka, who helps me with the games and Richard Smith, who was the habitat representative that I initially worked with and now has become a good friend. I ask them both to join me in the interview because of their parts in the event. They will both be helping me run it this evening.

I call friends to get additional table tops and chips wondering how we will be able to handle tonight if it gets too large. Not sure if I have enough, I run down to Walmart and get a couple of fleece blankets to lay out on tables if needed.

One of the radio stations called and asked me for more details on the event. It seemed that the Bulletin had announced that it would be held on Wednesday. They promised to get the correction out on air on all of their stations.

Parts of the day were a blur to me but when Z21 showed up, so did Frank and Richard and we sat behind one of the tables and began talking about the event. Frank and I bantered back and forth while the interviewer attempted to get serious statements from us. I did not realize at first but any answer that I made was usually with a hand behind my head with two finger ears raised or Frank pretending to pick his nose or do something other distraction. They did get a fairly good statement from Frank and I left them with what I felt would be the line used keeping a side eye of Frank while making it to insure his non-distraction. The cameraman was quite entertained by the banter and my wife jokingly asked him if he had a good editor. He assured her that they would be able to get a good soundbite from the lengthy shot. Frank and I began arguing on whose would be used.

In no time, 5PM had come around and the last minute details needed to be attended to. Judy (my wife), Richard, and I began setting up the chips and prize table. As Judy counted out chips, she quiped, "Shouldn't you have had some of this stuff done earlier?". "Have you seen me sit down today?", I asked. "Yes", she cooed, "At lunch!".

Tables cleared and tops laid out, the Habitat people began showing up around 5:30 and I asked them to have their meeting out on deck so I could attend to the last minute details. My daughter calls to inform me that the 5PM news got the figures wrong on the events total. We would be going over $6000 and they stated $3000. "At least we got air time", I said. I then asked her whos sound bite was used and she said that none were used.

At 5:45, only 4 players had been signed up and I began my usual last minute worry session. Trying to focus on the tasks at hand, I slapped my self with the reality that it didnt matter who showed up because we were just attempting to do the right thing and that was all that mattered. Shortly after 6, players started to pour in and I knew that part would be alright also. 42 players showed up and we placed them on four tables in the room and one out on the deck. Fox news showed up and I introduced them to the Habitat rep as I was far to busy at the time and after a few quick announcements, the game began and I was in my element.

Richard manned the chip and gift table while Frank and I walked amongst the tables answering questions and solving minor disputes over hands. The loudness of the room was deafening but was punctuated with laughter and smiles that showed me that all were having a good time. We realized that we had enough chips, so we announced that they would be allowed to buy back in up to the time of the first blind raise. This created chaos as players began going all in to get rid of their short stacks and buy more chips. "Keep buying", I yelled out, "We are building houses!".

I walked by one table to see that the flop was three aces. I dont believe that I have ever seen that one before. I later hear shreaks coming from the same table as one of the players had beaten a full house by having the other ace in his pocket. Unbelievable.

Two hours later, we were down to the final table. It seemed like half of the table were regulars while the other half new faces. Joe from Foxnews had made the table along with Casey, my son, who had won the previous week.

I watched as Casey's stack of chips grew and grew and saw him take his second tourney in a row.

A big thanks is needed to Kings Razor, Printer Resources (Franks business),Lava lanes, The Twins, and the Shell station on the corner of 27th and Hwy 20 for providing great prizes to the winners on the final table. And of course a special thanks to Frank and Richard for not only their help but their friendship.

We were informed that Z21 had played a good piece on the 6 oclock news and that they had played a soundbite from the interview. Frank and I began immediatly arguing on who would be used. Since he already owes me a ticket to a Duck game in the fall, I offered him a double or nothing on the bet. He declined as we folded up the tabletops and set the tables for the next days business.

Too bad he didnt take that bet as it was his bite that was used.

Ok, time to get ready for our next big event. The 4th of July BBQ for Central Oregon Veterans Outreach. Details coming soon.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

A day in the life of the diner

I woke up early this morning and drug myself across the house to the window facing south. I was looking to see if the balloons were launching so that I might go out and take a few pictures. I saw the wind in the trees and knew the answer without looking and returned to my warm bed. A half hour later, the phone rings. My daughter is calling from the diner telling me that the place is packed and we are dramatically understaffed. You see, on a normal Saturday, the rush does not usually get there till around 9 or so. I jump into my clothes and kissed the wife who tells me that she will be right there. She just has to take a quick shower. Smiling, I leave the house. “See you in a few hours”, I whisper knowingly.

I arrive at the diner and find that Jimmy has jumped into the kitchen to help along with our newest cook to help the opener. Two waitresses are trying hard to cover the full floor and people are beginning to pour into the backroom. “I am sorry; you can’t sit back there just yet.” I tell them. An angry “Why” is the most common answer. I try to explain that I don’t have a waitress for the room just yet and while most understand, there are always the ones who don’t. I ended up letting a few stay and promised the others that I would seat them as soon as possible.

Going out on the main floor, I find the prep cook has jumped in and is helping buss and set tables for new coming guests. Even my daughter and Kaysie from the Twins have jumped in and are helping. How stupid of me to not realize that when the balloons did not go up, all the people that went out to see them are not just going to go home. Balloon crews and spectators have decided that the next best thing would be to go have breakfast somewhere.

So begins one of our busiest Saturdays of the season. I spread my time between bussing, greeting, setting up plates in the kitchen, and helping deliver food to waiting customers. In the middle of the melee, the cashier brings to me a part from the register that keeps the tape rolled up. She cannot get the tape off of it. No problem, I tell her and proceed to break the part trying to get the tape off. I then quickly retreat to my office and storage sheds looking for one of my old backup registers that might have that part on it. Otherwise I will have quite a mess at the register as the tape rolls out on the floor where the paying customer stands. With a great sigh of relief, I find just the part that I am looking for and proudly fix the broken register but them am called away to another problem.

What seemed like minutes but was really a couple of hours later, my wife arrived and took over the kitchen part of my duties which allowed me to spend more time on the floor and out-front assisting the greater.

It is always interesting working the floor on days like this. They are never the same. People want to know how long it will be till they can be seated, others will flag you down for to go boxes, you stop and adore the cute little brown eyed baby that stares up at you as you walk past. It is kind of like being up on stage at times, because people are always watching you. Remember; try to smile even though your head is filled with all that stuff. Has a waitress got to those people yet as I don’t see drinks in front of them. Still another has that annoyed look when they are waiting for someone to take their order. I quickly scope the room to see if I know any of the faces. I spot a friend across the room and make my way over to say hi. Right after I arrive, I hear a crash and turn wondering what waitress had dropped their food or if a collision had happened somewhere in the room. At the counter, I spy a customer sitting low in his chair, his shoulders even with the top of the counter. The swivel base of the chair has broken at the screw and the chair has dropped to its lowest level. I arrive at the counter to find the regular customer laughing so hard that he is in tears. The customers around him are relentlessly teasing him. I sigh in relief, thankful that a friend was sitting in the chair when it broke instead of some scary characters that you see sometimes that are looking to sue for the smallest reasons. I offer to find him another chair but he won’t have it. He gets a kick out of drinking his coffee that sits at eye level.

I am called back to the register as the cashier cannot get the new piece to fit the right way. As I work on the machine, Jerry arrives. Jerry is a local street person that we try to help out from time to time. He tells me that he doesn’t want money, but has a proposition for me. I let him know that I will be with him as soon as I can and finish off my job.

My wife grabs me to let me know that they have no steak knives and asks if I can get the dishwasher to get cracking on getting them some. I find us short handed on them so go out to the storage and retrieve a few dozen, dropping them off with the dishwashers and then assuring my wife that they will be coming soon.

A customer asks for me in the backroom. I had told her before that if she gave me notice, I could have the baker bake her unusual pie as long as we had the ingredients. She let me know that she wanted an Apple/Marion berry pie and that she had to have it the next day. With Jim stuck in the kitchen, I asked him if he would have time to make the pie. With his assurance, I returned and let the ladies know that their pie would be ready.

I headed back towards the front, straightening and cleaning up various stations that always seemed to be in flux during times like these. I am called to the front where a customer is unhappy because someone else was served ahead of him. That some one else was eating biscuits and gravy and the cook had put one order up too much so they gave it to him to clear out his ticket. I tried to explain this to the customer who felt that his Omelet and Eggs Benedict should have come out before that other person. Most times they understand those things, other times not so much.

The cashier calls to me to inform me that Jerry could no longer wait and that he would come back and see me another day. Meanwhile the line to get in the door is a page long and I struggle with the greater to set the new eaters as soon as possible.

Hearing raised voices in the kitchen; I zip in to find that one of the waitresses had taken out the wrong order. One of the waitresses is asking for her plate on the ticket that is up while the cook is trying to let her know that the plate was just up in the window. The pass bar is loaded with orders that are ready or close to being ready to deliver. I calm the cook down, ask him to redo the order and proceed to assist my wife in getting the plates ready to deliver. The first ticket that I work on calls for gravy on the hash browns of one of the orders. I quickly spoon gravy on to the plate and place the ticket under the orders waiting for delivery. The waitress grabs the plates and takes off looking at the ticket for hints of where it needs to go. She turns around with a frustrated look. The gravy was supposed to go on the bacon and eggs, not the scramble. The girls all jokingly tell me to leave the kitchen and I am more than happy to oblige.

The madhouse continues on till sometime after 1PM but the day continues as I know have to get the bussers started in their cleaning, make sure that the waitresses do their backup before they leave, and encourage the tired employees to keep going and not to drop their guard just because it has slowed.

It is funny, on a busy day such as this a few weeks back, a tired wife grabbed me as I flew through her work space. “Honey, I think we should have bought a flower shop!” she stated. “We would probably make better money doing that.” I winked back. “I would just rather handle a beautiful pot of flowers than plates of biscuits and gravy.” She yelled out as I walked away.

The busy day is now finished. A dark and quiet diner now waits. I am ready to climb back into that bed and let my body recharge for yet another day. I wonder what that day will bring. Anticipating that the balloons will not go up again, I have brought crews in early. I know the real meaning of that is however, that the balloons will probably go up and the crews will be there in force just waiting.

I love this job…..goodnight

Friday, June 8, 2007

Memories (2)

A Faded Clown

His name was Barry Bartlett. His twin claims to fame were that he had once been a clown with Barnum & Bailey, and that he had even appeared on the Johnny Carson show. To look at him, you could almost believe the story. He wore black tennis shoes with blue socks, black cutoffs, a yellow, sleeveless T-shirt, and an ancient, faded, clip-on tie. On top of his head, he wore a tea pot cozy, shaped like a chicken.
He sat there at the restaurant table, spooning down quick bites of oatmeal while tying and shaping balloons. He was the best balloon designer I have ever seen before or since. He even shaped a Ferris wheel that sat on the table—and actually turned. Seconds later, he had fashioned a man riding a Harley. He also had a quick temper. When a balloon popped he would throw it over his shoulder, not caring if it landed on the floor or on another customer's omelet.
The restaurant owner, who had been passing through, phoned me from his office. "Did you see the guy with the duck on his head?" he asked me. "Actually," I told him, "it's a chicken."
I approached the man's table, and he looked up at me. "You're just the man I was lookin' for," he said. "I happen to be a professional dishwasher by night, an' a balloon-tyin' clown by day. Would you have any work for me?"
We didn't have any openings at the time, but the man had me intrigued. I sat down to talk to him. Barry the clown told me of some of his past accomplishments, and showed me some faded newspaper clippings.
He also told me he suffered from an ailment known as Tourette syndrome. It made him hyperactive—sometimes frightening people, if he didn't take his medication on time. He said he'd ridden a Greyhound from his home in Sarasota, Florida all the way to Eugene, Oregon. Someone had told him you could earn money entertaining people on the streets in Eugene. But it hadn't worked out that way. He headed for the bus station to go home, but couldn't find his return ticket. After a loud argument in the terminal, someone called the cops. The Eugene Police took him to a local restaurant, bought him a bowl of soup, and said they would return shortly. After two hours, he tired of waiting and "borrowed" a bike to ride back to Saratsota. He rode for four days, crossing the Mackenzie Pass and dropping into Sisters. ("You know, they've got real sharp corners on that road.")
In Sisters, the police got involved again and brought him to St Vincent De Paul in Bend, where he found lodging for the night. He needed more assistance to get home, but didn't know what to do.
Since I knew the good ladies at St Vincent's, I made a call. They'd been looking for the former clown—and had purchased a return bus ticket to Sarasota. He asked me if I would drive him, and stay with him for awhile. And I did. As he began to tell his story again to the St. Vincent ladies, he become more and more agitated. "Please take your pills, Barry," I told him.
He pulled two cellophane wrapped pills from a bottle and started to rave again. "I can't get 'em opened," he wailed, waving his arms in the air. The two kind women at the shelter immediately took the pills from his hand, opened the packages, and handed them back to the agitated man. He took his medication and began to calm down.
I returned to the diner, confident my charge would be well cared for. Later that afternoon, however, Barry showed up on our doorstep again. This time, I had to send him away. "I'm sorry, Barry," I told him, "you caused too much commotion this morning." He smiled his sad, clown's smile, said he understood, and thanked me for my help. He tapped a bus ticket in his shirt pocket, and told me he was going home. With that he shook my hand, jumped back on his bike, and I never saw him again.
For three nights running, I awoke in the night, wondering if I'd done enough for the little man. Was I right in turning him away? I never heard him swear—even once. During one of our conversations, when he was having trouble getting the words out, he had stopped, folded his hands, and said, "Please, Jesus, just lemme say the words." Everyone had seemed to enjoy his balloon tying—why had I sent him away? Was I just a little bit too worried about my image as a manager? I had taken the route so many of us take with someone we don't understand. We stand at the door and say, "You can't come in. You cause a commotion, and you're not wanted here." I'm so thankful that Jesus isn't like that. He's there for people whose dreams have faded, who are far from home, and down on their luck. And He never turns anyone away. Not even a man wearing a chicken hat. Not even Lyle Hicks.
Now that is grace.

BTW, Barry came from a very large city in Florida. Weeks after he left, I called the chamber there and asked them if they knew of him. They told me yes and that he had arrived home safely.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Holdem for Habitat

Every Monday night, Jake’s Diner holds a Texas Holdem Tournament with all proceeds going to Habitat for Humanity. To date, nearly $6000 has been raised to help build homes for local people.

On Monday, June 11th , there will be a special night which will include officers from Habitat and some of the new soon to be Habitat homeowners. Sign ups will begin at 5PM and the tournament will start at 6:30. The charge for the event is the same as every Monday night which is $5.

Last night, we had 16 players including Joe from Fox who made it to the final three players. Next Monday should be a huge night.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Memories (1)


He looked like any other Joe, just sitting at the counter, sipping on coffee, and reading a book. I wouldn’t have noticed anything different if the waitress hadn’t pointed him out as I came down from my office for lunch. “I think you better check out the one at the counter.” she said, “I think we may have a problem there.”

I took the time to pour coffee at the counter and take a closer look. He was engrossed in the book that he bent over, rocking forward and back as he read with his hands running up then down on his legs. On his wrist was a band that on closer inspection, showed that he had just been released from some sort of hospital. As I filled his coffee, I noticed the book that grabbed his attention so. “The Human Brain” was the title. Not really reading that I would enjoy but oh well, different strokes for different folks. “Enjoying your book?”, I asked. He looked up and with a crooked grin said, “Yup.” and then went back to his reading.

I returned to my table and when the waitress came around, I told her not to worry and that I think he is harmless. I added that if she had any problems, to get a hold of me. I then finished my meal and retreated back to my office and my paperwork.

Thirty minutes later, I was paged back to the diner. “You have to talk to that man”, the waitress stated, “He is going from table to table and eating off of everyone’s plates. The customer are pretty upset to say the least. Seeing me come in to the diner, the man had gone back to his counter seat and was back in his book.

“I’m sorry but you are going to have to leave.” I stated to him, “Don’t worry about your check, it’s on me.” I figured if he was eating off of all those plates he probably didn’t have any money anyway.

He looked up with that same crooked smile that I had received earlier. “OK”, he replied. He then put on his quilted ski parka, pulled on the full length wool coat over the top, and wrapped the thick scarf around his neck. “Goodbye.”, he said, the scarf blocking the smile, and stepped out into the 90 degree August heat.