Thursday, October 30, 2008

One Crazy Week

I hope that I don't have too many like this and I am sure that there are some of you who want to hear it straight from me so here goes:

Monday morning started early with Casey waking me up to let me know that he was leaving for Colorado. I drove to the diner to sit with him as he ate breakfast before leaving. He was anxious to get on the road so we walked out to his car and said our goodbyes. People say that goodbyes get easier the more you do them.......they lie.

I drove back to the house and as I walked in, I could feel the difference. As if the walls were telling me that they missed him also. It was an empty feeling. Judy and I didn't need to talk. We knew our grief was mutual. Later she mentioned to me that she felt a feeling in the house like it was suddenly missing something and I told her that I shared that feeling.

We went about the day and tried to keep busy and keep our minds off of things. Around noon, Casey called as we entered Walmart. He wasn't sure where he was. He had taken the directions from map quest and they had sent him off on another road after leaving Burns. "Oh my goodness", he said, "The sign says that I am in Nevada.". I went to the magazine section and got out a map book. He was just 70 miles or so north of Winemucca. So, I had him continue on and pick up Interstate 80 there. "Looks like you are turning this trip into an adventure.", I joked.

Later Trin and I picked up Jayden from school and stopped to pick up some pumpkins. Trin had decided that she and Jay were going to carve pumpkins for Halloween. I helped them set up on the deck outside the diner while I set up the room for the poker tourney that evening. I ended up going back and forth between them and the set up as they were having some trouble with the carving. The last pumpkin was a surprise for me as Trin attempted to carve "Jakes" in the side of it. They set them up in front of the register and brought me around for the surprise of three lit jack o lanterns.

I hadn't eaten well that day and wasn't feeling really great but got the poker tourney started on time. I was playing very well until I made a bad read and knocked myself out of the running. So, I spent the rest of the evening managing the chips and working on paperwork. With the tourney finished, I went out to my office and put the money in the drawer of my desk. I then went home and waited for Casey to call. He called around 11 to let me know that he was in Green River, Utah and should be in Denver on Tuesday around noon. Comfortable with his safety, I pulled myself into bed.

Around 2:45, the phone rang. I looked at the caller ID and my heart sank. It was the security people. "The office alarms are going off", they said. I told them that I was on my way. I jumped into my pants, threw on a sweatshirt, and with my slippers on, grabbed my coat and hat on the way out. Trin and Judy both yelled to me to be careful.

I arrived at the diner just a minute after the police who were shining their lights in the back area. I unlocked the gate and they all went in with guns drawn. I didn't need to be told to get out of the way, I just did. I watched as they backed each other up and went into the rooms just like you would see on tv. No one was there and we looked through the door into my office. I could see that my desk had been broken into. I could see that the drawer where I kept my backup had been pry ed open. It is hard to describe the feelings that go on inside of you so I wont even try. The police asked me to stay out until the dogs got there to try and get some scent.

The dogs arrived and so did Judy and Trin. We were told that the dogs might come to us because of our scent so if they did, that we should just stand still. Instead, we climbed into the van so that we would not disturb the trail. The dogs headed out down the hill and we were able to go in. Trin had noticed a car sitting outside the liquor store with the engine running and an officer went up to check it out. He returned to inform us that it was just the Bulletin paper man.

I looked through my desk and found that our back up money was missing along with the bag of habitat money. The money from the night before was still there along with a few other important things that they had not gotten. I felt good about that but horrible about the other. I checked my records that I keep and realized that there was over a thousand dollars of Habitat money that was missing.

The dogs lost the scent and only a few footprints were found. The police left me with their cards and I attempted to reset the alarms but since the door in the office had been broken was not able to do so. I called Jim to see how far away he was and found him just driving in. So, we went home and attempted to get a little rest before starting up the new day.

I had a deposition on an accident that happened a few years ago where I had been involved in a six car wreck being the last car. The person two cars in front of me was suing for his damages. My damages were minor and I drove away. I still cant figure out how they can blame me for any of his but it is in the insurance and lawyers hands but the deposition certainly added to the stress level. I remember feeling very confident but when they started questioning me, my gut started to shake. With that behind me, I returned to the diner to begin working on repairing the damage from the break in.

KTVZ called and at first I refused their interview. As we spoke, however, I had a change of mind. The main money taken was charity money and that needed to be told. So, I agreed to their interview. They came by and talked to me and then to a couple of the players who happened to be there eating.

I picked up Jay from school and we talked about what had happened the night before. "Did they get anything?", he asked. I told him of what was taken and of the habitat money. Jay went silent and I knew that that information had hit him since he lives in a habitat home. "Those guys are turds!", he explained. "Yes, son, they are", I replied, "but they will be caught.".

Jack, our repairman, fixed both doors and made them close able for the night. He promised to return the next day to secure them even more. I worked till around 6 and then drove home, thanking the KTVZ crew who were set up in the parking lot. "My hope is that we can make a positive of all of this and see Habitat gain back ten fold.", I stated. But in the back of my mind, I could feel the stress building and longed to just go home.

Trin and I watched a movie after she got off work and I pulled my self off to bed feeling rather beat up.

At 3 AM, I awoke. I got to thinking of something that Trin had said that night before. She had said that I should drive down around the same time and see if that same car was parked in front of the liquor store. So, I decided to do so. I walked down the stairs and as I was going out the front door, my phone rang. It was Trin. I told her that I was just taking a drive to check out what she had asked but when I realized that no one was on the line, figured that she must have figured it out so I just hung up. I drove to the diner and around half way there, my phone rang. It was the police asking me where I was. I told them and they asked me to return to my house. I took the swing by the diner noticing that the paper boy was still there waiting for his papers. Sherlock Trin was not right on this one.

I arrived back at my house to find it surrounded by police. Trin had heard my footsteps. Her call to me was to ask if it was me. When I could not hear her and hung up the phone, she thought something had happened to me. She feared that someone had just broken into the house and called the police. The police asked her to check for my car and she could see that it was missing so that was how I was called. I apologised to the police and then went inside and talked with Trin for an hour or so. At the time, I was pretty mad but looking back now, I can see more clearly how she had pieced all of those things together and was worried for the safety of Judy and I. We both agreed that if it had not been for the happenings of the night before, this would not have happened. I took the liberty to remind her, however, that she had given me permission to tell her that I told her so when she watched that scary movie a few days back about people breaking into a home and killing the occupants. She was clearly not moved by that.

I struggled to get some more sleep before taking off again for another day of work. The diner was busier probably from the news reports and I spent the day between security, diner business, and other issues relating to the break in. Around noon, the cashier told me that he had a couple of dollar coins in his register. I bought them out as I always do and went out to the desk. It was then that I realized what else was missing. I have been collecting dollar coins for years now. I had hoped to do something for Jayden later on in life with least that was the plan. I had felt something else was missing and now realized what it was. I had a poker chip case that I kept the dollar coins in. I had collected two to three lines of them. Probably between two and three hundred of them. I got angry all over again and my stomach turned thinking of it.

I admit that the rest of the day was kind of ruined after that but I had to continue doing what I do. I took Trin off to the airport to return to Portland and upon returning wolfed down some dinner before going to the VFW hall for the last Veterans day parade meeting. I met a couple of friends as I walked in who told me they were sorry and asked if we had any leads. One of them told me to tell the police that if they caught the guys to just bring them down to the VFW hall and turn them over to them. My heart really wasn't there and I left as soon as I could afterwards.

I came home, cracked open a beer, and sat on the couch talking with Judy, when the phone rang again. It was after 8 and Ricci was calling from the diner. "There was a robbery at Safeway and the police have asked businesses in the area to secure themselves.", she stated. I grabbed my hat and Judy asked me to be safe as I went out the door. I called my buddy, Frank, who agreed to meet me at the diner and we arrived to a locked up building.

One car showed up shortly thereafter, and I opened the door for them explaining what was happening. They were passing through the area and were sent over by a local motel. I spent my time checking on diners and watching for more customers to let in before our closing time of 9. I asked the visitors how they liked their food and they said that they loved it, especially the spaghetti sauce. I chatted with them about their trip and they bought a whole Marion Berry pie to take to their relatives in Utah.

Frank and I helped the crew finish and locked the place up with Frank and I setting security before we left. Now wide awake, I winded down by watching some TV. As the evening got later, I felt worse so I took myself off to bed. I awoke early this morning with the stress of it all hitting me. I decided not to go to work today. I just need to recharge a little. I must admit that writing this is a little therapeutic and I do feel much better than I did. It is hard to explain the feeling. It is kind of like being angry, hurt, depressed, and pressured all at once. I just need to take my own advice a little. When someone is going through a hard time, I always give them a piece of sage advice. "This to shall pass."....and it will.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Elections part 2

The Lions club meets at our diner every Wednesday morning. So, for the past few weeks, various people striving to get votes to put them in office have been parading through. I can't blame them as you want to get as many people together at one time to help persuade them to vote for you.

What most of them don't realize, however, is that their are eight members of my crew that are on duty that morning that are voting also. And they show their true colors to them. I tend to hear about it later when I come to work. If they would just stop and recognise one of them, they would probably sway every vote. A simple, "Hi, I am ----- and I am running for ------ and I would sure like your vote would quickly garner them eight votes.

I asked them last Wednesday to give me the worst and the best and they were unison on this. The best was ____ ______. He was very polite to them. Saying "please" and "thank you". He also impressed the waitress when he told the Lions club that he would pick up his own tab. "This is what I do" was what I was told that he said.

The worst was _____ ______. They felt that she treated them like hired help or less respectful. Now, she could have been having a bad day. I am sure that she put on a good face for the Lions club members but this was the face that she evidently had for the crew.

Now, once again, I have no irons in the fire on this one. I am not sure of even their political affiliations. I am merely making an observation. And that is when one is running for public office they need to always be cognisant of one thing. They are always in the public eye. And that service employee, whether restaurant, motel, or whatever is a potential vote. And that one vote will often sway many votes. And could cause them the race.

I didn't ask for their opinion on all of the others and their are a couple of reasons for that. First, many of the others names were not remembered as only the best and the worst stuck in their mind. And more important, I am just merely trying to make a point.

I am not trying to sway voters on the issue and that is why I did not name names. If you want to know, email me or ask me in private and I will tell you, however.

And some of you may wonder why I am up so early again. Well, Casey is leaving again in a few hours. This time for Colorado. One of these times, his leaving will be more perminent and I know that. I had a good visit with him this time and my mind races with "Casey" thoughts. I will miss him.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The election is coming soon

We are less than two weeks away from what looks to be the most important election of our lives. No matter who wins, it will be unprecedented as two starkly contrasting figures vie for our vote. Who should you vote for? You should vote for the man who you feel will do the best for our country not just for you. You should understand what he desires to do and more importantly, how he desires to do it not just vote because you like the way that he looks or carries himself. You should look at the mans past and see what his various accomplishments are and how he voted on issues that are important to you and then look to see if they match what he is saying he will do. And then, you should vote your conscious.

To me, there are two main issues that I feel are the most important things that are pressing to our country at this time, our economy and our security.

Our economy, quite frankly, is ran by business. Business makes jobs that make money to purchase items that feed business. I know that is a very simplistic view of it all but I always was one to try to make it as simple as possible. As my college professors used to say, the KISS principle. Keep It Simple Stupid. I have never seen where government has been able to generate business directly so if a candidate says that he will generate jobs, how will he do that? What policies or incentives does he propose to keep that business cycle rolling and do you think that his ideas will work and why? Remember, only a small few work for the government. The rest of us rely on business. If business is stifled, will you have a job to go to?

Our security, on the other hand, is controlled by our government. Who will do the most to make us safe? And, once again, how will they do what they say they will do? Our safety is secured by two levels. Our police and fire departments here to protect us directly and our military to protect our concerns both here and abroad. Personally, I put our National Guard somewhere in the middle and I would love to see them all come home to be prepared to protect us closer to home. Contrary to some belief, both of these are extremely important. We should appreciate them and the fact that they put their lives on the line daily to protect us but all to often, we make laws that tie their hands behind their backs and then complain when they cannot accomplish something because of that.

Which candidate will lead our protectors the best? Which one will build and keep their moral up? Which one will give them the resources to do their jobs or have them ready to protect us when and where we need it?

We are living in scary times with Physical and Financial dangers lurking around us all. Who will do the best to lead us through and keep us safe? We are just about to vote for the man who we feel will do so. Think wisely and make your vote count.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Unemployment challenges

Normally, I don't challenge unemployment claim decisions, but a recent one got to me so I went to the hassle of challenging it. A former employee of whom I have various problems with came to work bragging that she was drunk. I could see that there was some kind of problem with her that day and was even told that she had bragged to our cashier that she was hungover. Lana, I hope you are reading this.

When Summer, our bookkeeper called me and told me that she had tripped in front of her and when asked if she was OK was told that she was more intoxicated than she thought. I told Summer to send her home immediately. The next morning, I questioned other employees to find that she had been bragging of her intoxication to them. I told Jim to cover her and let her go.

When they called me regarding the issue, I told them the story. Summer even told them her part of the story but the employee denied being drunk and the investigator went with her. I felt the need to challenge for a few reasons. 1. To show the crew that I was not going to just roll over in these kinds of situations, 2. To back up the crews claims as not doing anything to me kind of was showing them that I might not believe them either, and 3. Probably a little pride in that I didn't like the fact that they took her word over mine and Summers.

I knew that it would be a hassle and time consuming but I went ahead and put in the request for a hearing. The hearing was set up for yesterday afternoon at 2:30. I asked the various people for written statements that I could use in the hearing and an hour or so before the hearing, I began looking over the paperwork regarding it. I found that they requested that I be on a corded land line. The only corded land line that we had was in the cashier station on the telephone that I had set up for employees. I realized that with no cashier at the time, that their was a possibility that I might have a situation where a customer would come up and not knowing what I was doing, might not understand when I could not ring them up.

My first thought was to find the extension cord that I had used during the remodel and run it out into the back room so that I could have the privacy. I searched and searched and finally found the cord with fifteen minutes left to spare. I plugged in the cord and then attempted to hook it into the phone only to find that the phone's line was hard wired so I would need a converter to patch the cords together. I knew that I one somewhere but with the time closing in could not find it.

So, I went to my plan B and asked Judy to stay close by to handle the register while I handled the hearing in the cashiers station. I felt that the hearing would only take a few minutes and would definitely be done before she had to leave and take Trinity to the airport.

I rushed out to the office with only minutes to spare to grab the envelope with all of the written statements in it and then back to the cashiers station and the corded phone. As I rushed through the waitress station, Toni was talking and turning at the same time with a full tray of ice water which ended up all over the front of my shirt and down my pants. I could not stop to address the laughter coming from the kitchen and other employees and customers who had witnessed the event. I just did not have the time. I quickly set up all of my paperwork around me trying hard to not notice the chill of the water. As I sat down, two pieces of ice popped out from my waist dropping underneath me and between me and the seat thus sitting on them. Trying hard to remain calm and collected, I threw the ice into the trash can and told myself how much I loved Toni.

I managed to get into the hearing with no time to spare and we began. I was the first to be questioned and I must admit that some of the questions just plain didn't seem to make sense. For instance, have I ever gotten the crew together and told them that I would not allow them to drink or be drunk on the job. I asked the hearings officer if she was in my shoes, would she allow someone who was drunk to work and was told that she was the one doing the questions and I was not allowed to ask her any. I read all of my statements and realized that this was going to take a little longer than I had expected.

Judy left me a note stating that Toni had reassured her that she would remain close by and alert if someone came to the register area and that she had to leave.

So, in the middle of this stressful questioning, someone came to the till to pay and no Toni. My stress level fairly high by now, I snapped my fingers hoping that Toni would hear but only startled the person at the register. I excused myself from the hearings officer and asked the customer if she could ask for Toni on the main floor. Toni was not close by and the customer looked at me with those eyes of "Why do I have to do this, I only want to pay and leave.". Meanwhile the hearings officer is letting me know that I need to give the hearing my attention. Toni shows up apologising but I cannot talk to her as I go back to my answering of the questions. After ringing up the customers, Toni once again attempts to apologise but i can only smile and wave as the hearings officer is speaking and I need to listen to what she is saying. I make a mental note to myself to buy a better phone. Some of the crew had told me that their phone was hard to hear from and I admit ignoring that somewhat. Now, I was paying for that ignorance.

The questioning went to the employee who answered that she was hungover but not drunk. She said that she had a very bad head ache but was able to do her job quite effectively that day. I listen intently as I could to her answers as I was going to be given the chance to question her once she was finished and did not want to sound stupid by asking her a question that she had already answered. I had written a few on the back of a sheet of paper and marked them off when they had been answered. The officer asked her if she remembered the event very well. The employee stated that she remembered it perfectly just as if it happened the week before. The officer asked her how she could have such a good recollection with such a bad headache. The employee informed her that the type of headache that she gets from hangovers is not one that affects her memory but is just annoying. I felt that the officer might have her trapped there but only time will tell.

Then it was time for my questions. Just at that minute, Toni told me that she was leaving and that Casey would be covering the till for her. I could not say anything but only watch her jet out the door. Immediately, another customer came to the register and my mind raced with what to do. The hearing officers asked me again if I had any questions and I said yes. Fortunately, Casey came walking around the corner and I was able to retrieve my paper and go over my checked off questions.

I asked her if she had made any statements that day to any fellow employees of being either intoxicated, drunk, or any words that might elude to that fact and she said no.

I then asked her that on the day that she came in to pick up her check, what was written on the piece of tape above the Jake's logo. She said their was no tape on the shirt. the officer then asked me what I felt was written on the tape. I told her that I did not want to say the word but spelled out the four letter word that started with an F that both employees and customers had witnessed. My intention was to show her personality more to the officer. The officer asked her if that was on the shirt and she said, yes but not on any tape, she had written it straight on the shirt.

Inside myself, I let out a big "Yes" and said, no further questions. I felt like an attorney that had just made a point to a jury.

Now, I don't know how the hearings officer will decide on this case. And I realize that the financial burden of it will not be that big but I walked away with the satisfaction that I was at least allowed to state my case and make my point but in doing so took a while to calm down from the stress of the whole thing. Maybe the glasses of cold water should have come afterwards instead of before.....

Sunday, October 19, 2008

An eventful adventure

Casey is home for a couple more weeks and we wanted to take a day trip together while he was here. So, Friday morning, we jumped in the van and headed for Silver Creek Falls. We hoped to reach Aumsville for an early lunch at my friends restaurant, Neufeldt's. Judy and I first met Jerry and Ester Neufeldt back in 1994 and we see each other either there or at Jake's every now and then.

We were cruising along past Detroit when the van shifted down and just stayed there. At first I thought I was having transmission problems but when I looked at the dash, I saw the battery light. The further down the road, the more lights came on the dash. We were coming up on the Maples rest area, so we pulled in there. After shutting off the key, I could no longer start the car. The click, click, click told me that I had no battery left.

I called my friend, Ken Mays, who is the automotive instructor up at COCC and he told me that it looked like it was just an alternator problem. He said that could mess with the gear changing also. He wished me luck and I called AAA for assistance. I felt that I had the towing coverage for 100 miles so I felt that I was in pretty good shape. The informed me that I only had four miles and that any thing over that was to be billed for $3.75 per hour. They told me the best place to tow would be Stayton which was around 25 miles away. They asked me if I would like to upgrade and it would only cost $2.50 per mile so I agreed to it.

While we waited, what seemed like a line of people from Bend stopped by to give us their regards or point at the van and say, "Hey look, the Jake's van broke down!". Shortly thereafter, Santiam Towing showed up to save us and give us a ride to Stayton.

The Santiam Towing driver was a very nice guy and we enjoyed our conversation with him as he drove us to our hopeful repair. I asked him to take us to whoever he felt the best place for our repair would be. He spoke very high of a man named Corey at Stayton Tire. I figured that was as good as any so that is where we headed. He asked his dispatcher if they could give us ten miles and they agreed but let him know that AAA had not adjusted to $2.50 per mile for the remainder. I called AAA and the lady on the other end of the phone was very nice also. She apologised and offered us twelve more miles. So...the trip to Stayton only cost us $22.50.

We drove into a very busy lot at Stayton Tire and I began to wonder if we had made the right decision. We jumped out of the rig and our driver introduced us to the owner, Corey. Our driver spoke for us and asked if Corey could help us out. Corey said, "Sure", and while the driver unloaded the van, we went inside to get the paperwork started. Before we had paid for the tow, Corey had located a alternator and had it ordered to arrive in about an hour. I asked him how close they were to Aumsville. He said around three miles. I told him about my friend Jerry Neufeldt and he threw me his keys. "I have your car, so you take mine.". The key was to a beautiful baby blue chopped Chevy pickup.

So, Casey and I drove to lunch. We arrived that the restaurant that wasn't that busy and as we walked in to sit down, I asked the waitress if Jerry was in. The very cold waitress curtly said, "No". I asked her if he would be back and she said, "No, he is gone for the day.". She placed the menus on our table and just walked away. As she walked away, I asked her for his number so I could call him. "Nope", she said, "We can't give that out.". "Could you call him for me?", I asked but she was by then too far away to hear me.

She came back in a few minutes and asked us if we were ready to order. I said, yes we were and that I needed her to call Jerry for me and give him my number so he could call me. Casey leaned over the table and said, "Dad, don't tick off the waitress.". She walked over to the phone and motioned me over. She dialed Jerry and handed me the phone. It was only then that she started to soften, realizing that I wasn't just some salesman or something. After chatting with Jerry for a few minutes and then returning to my table, I found a waitress that was so much more friendly. She saw my Jake's hat and said that she used to live in Bend and just loved Jake's. She asked me if I would try and talk Jerry into purchasing the same chicken fry as ours.

A good meal under our belt and we returned to Stayton Tire. Corey was waiting out front for us as we drove up. "I got some bad news for you.", he said. "Your serpentine belt is cracked and after we took it off, we found that your water pump is going also. You really should fix it while we have it apart.". He asked us if we intended on spending the night and I said no that I needed to be back in Bend on Saturday. He knew that we had hoped to drive up to the falls before heading home. "It looks like we are going to knock around here for a while.", I said. Throwing the keys that I had just returned back to me, Corey smiled and said, "Go see Silver Creek falls. I close at five so if get back by then and your van will be ready.".

So, Casey and I jumped back into our baby blue ride and visited the falls. We drove to the middle area where I had not been to before and walked into at least five falls in a mile long stretch. It was truly a beautiful place and I only wished that we had more time to soak up the beauty. The trip back to the car was a little brutal with the path being pretty much up hill but this old man kept up pretty good, if I do say so myself.

On the trip back to the shop, I commented to Casey that our trip had turned into a real adventure and that lead to reminisces of previous vacations and trips and what he remembered of them. I remember wondering if twenty years from now, we would think back of this one also.

We arrived back at the shop with the van still up in the air so we walked over to the store across the street and bought some ice cream and soda. We realized that Boise State/Hawaii game should be on so we sat in the tire shop, eating our ice cream and then drinking our sodas while we watched the game. Shortly thereafter, Corey called me over to finalize everything and we were shortly on our way back to Bend.

The trip back seemed to fly by for me as we talked of quite a variety of things. We pulled into the house, still talking and sat there as we finished the mini debate that we had going on at the time.

All in All, it was a day that I am sure that I will remember for quite some time. A real adventure, meeting a new friend in Corey, and spending much quality time with Casey. A Friday to remember.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

World Series of Holdem for Habitat 2008

Last night was the big night of the year for our Holdem for Habitat here at Jake's. We call it the World Series of Holdem for Habitat. There were three ways to qualify for this big tourney. 1. Be a winner of one of our weekly tournaments (held every Monday night), 2. Be in the top five in points for those same tournaments (you get points if you make the final tables), or 3. qualify on the "last ditch qualify night" on the day before the event.

I have been sick before the event so I wasn't able to put as much into it as I had hoped for but with the help of friends, set up in the afternoon to make ready for the event. Thanks to the help of various businesses around us including Printer Resources, Shell Stop & Go, Lava Lanes, Regal Cinemas, and Kings Razor, we had plenty of final table prizes. My trip to the coast has garnered the main prize of two nights at the Sandcastle Motel, a Marine Discovery Tour, and meals at the Chinook Winds Casino. All together, we figured that we had nearly $1000 worth of prizes.

With Frank and Richard's help, we were ready to go and around 5:30, the combatants came rolling in. Richard took control of the prizes while Frank and I spread out the players on the tables. Shortly after 6:30 and a couple of announcements, we all sat down and began.

An hour later, I was done. I was the victim of a slow play. A slow play is when someone bluffs that they don't have a hand, stays with your bets, and in the end takes you out with their better hand. Slow plays can backfire but this one did not and my chip stack was gone. A hand later, so was I.

I spent the rest of the night sorting out tables and waiting for the final one and the presenting of the prizes for it. Chris, the Monkey man, showed up in a rather cool fedora with shades ready to make his move. Last year, Chris had been third and as the final table approached, he was one of the two players that I felt had the best chance of winning. Bob Head was at the final table also with quite a stack of chips but for some reason I felt his chances were slimmer mainly because he had won so many times (13 in the last two years). You see, skill is a smaller part of this game with luck being the greatest component.

The final two ended up being Bob and Chris. I was behind Bob and saw his Ace Queen. In my mind, I was screaming to Chris to not call but evidently he is not a mind reader and he did. The dealer slowly put out the flop. First a 3 doubling up Chris, then a queen giving him two pairs, and finally another ace giving them both two pairs with Bobs higher. The up and down of it all was causing yells and "wows" from all around the room and I wondered how Chris was enjoying the roller coaster of it all. Finally, on the river, Bob was secured with another ace, giving him a full house.

The game ended another successful year of Holdem for Habitat at Jake's. Next week we start a whole new series. We are nearly over $14,000 raised and should hit that on Monday. Thank you to all who competed and helped and for anyone interested in a "fun" hand of poker, join us any Monday night at 6:30.

Last year, Chris said that I should have used a flash for my pics so this year I did. Next year, however, I think I need to get a new camera.

Thursday, October 2, 2008


Sleeping in a little to late, I jumped out of bed around nine and rushed down to work. I really didn't need to, however, as it seems that many were like me and the diner was fairly dead. This always bugs me when I have a full crew and seemingly nothing to do. I set many to cleaning as we waited for the anticipated rush.

I went back to the office to go over the previous days receipts, not realizing that the diner was quickly filling up with hungry eaters. I came out to get some change for the cashier and ended up diving in to the business. Busing tables, sitting people, sorting plates, clearing and wiping down the pass bar and counter, and pouring coffee. Actually, when this is all running smooth, it is my favorite part of the job. The time flys by while you are doing what you enjoy.

I am not sure if it was Saturday or Sunday, but one of those days, I noticed a family in one of the slower waitresses section. I wasn't quite sure if they had been served or not so I kept watching to insure that they had been seen and greeted. I noticed that the waitress had passed by them without comment so I went over to the table and asked if they had been served. They said no. I moved to insure that they were taken care of and may have had a different server handle them. I may have even used this table to do another thing. I am constantly lecturing my crew that we must be always on the alert to get to our customers as soon as possible. In doing so, I might have brought even more attention to that particular table, I am not sure. But, evidently, I brought to much attention to the table as I was later accused of discrimination by staring. Wow.

The crowd started to thin earlier than normal and around noon, we contemplated sending some of the staff home. Judy stayed while I went out to Jayden's football game. The Jake's Diner Bucs were meeting with the biggest and best team in the league, the Cowboys. Although they were clearly out manned, the Bucs held on. Their defense, at times, was great but they could not put together enough offensive strings to score. The one play that looked to be a score was called back when the ref claimed our guy was out of bounds. I know that it was close but the line was very vague and as you can guess, us parents thought better but were outvoted. We lost the game 13-0. Jayden seemed tentative in his tackling almost patting the runner on the back as he ran by as my daughter observed. It is funny since in practice, he is pretty solid.

After the game, I went back to the diner to help close and helped the cook pull out the grills to clean behind them. Closing earlier on Sundays has allowed us to an easier maintenance schedule and since the floor cleaner was in this evening, we took the advantage to clean behind the grills also. Things seem to build up quickly at times when you are busy. I helped Kevin, the cook, unhook the appliances and left him scraping the backs of the grills. I had him call me when he and the floor man were done so that I could come in and set the security.

I drove home to get ready for our family BBQ since Casey, the wanderer, was home. While I waited, Jay asked me to come out in the back yard and throw him a few baseballs. While we played, I told him of what I had observed in his play on the football field. He said, "I know, Papa, I want to tackle better and I think I am going to tackle them and they just run by me.". I told him that he needs to just tackle on instinct instead of thinking about it. I reminded him of a game where the other team intercepted a pass thrown his way. He promptly put the receiver down. That was instinct. He said that he would try and I left it at that not wanting to look like I was putting him down. We enjoyed the baseball while we waited for everyone to arrive.

Jay and I lit the BBQ and he helped me cook up a great dinner of hamburger, steak, bratwurst, and hot dogs. We enjoyed each others company and a great meal. Shortly afterwards, Trin and I drove down to the diner and checked things before we set the alarms.

Trin wanted to watch a movie with us all picking out "A nightmare on elm street". I was just too tired and excused myself to a nice warm bed with another very full day behind me.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Busy days....Saturday

I woke up Saturday a little late and hurried to get to the diner before nine. A steady busy morning ensued which made it go by fairly fast. While we labored out front, Jimmy was putting together the makings for the BBQ that we were going to put on in the afternoon for Central Christian School in Redmond.

We did the BBQ for two reasons. First and most important was to help out the school. They had asked us for sandwiches but Jimmy had suggested the BBQ which brings us to the second reason. We wanted to try out our new trailer and see how well it would work for us. I brought the trailer around back and Jimmy and Shelly loaded it up. Everything rode real well and I was quite happy with how smoothly it drove down the highway.

We arrived at the school which is located at the Assembly of God church and began to set up out back. I drove the van behind leaving the trailer in an advantageous place so that we could just leave the BBQ on it and cook from there. Shelly and I set up the tables while Jim joked on how much he loved doing cater jobs because it was the only time that he could tell me what to do.

We set the table up, lit all of the chaffing dishes, and finished just minutes before the first walkers came into sight. Our meal was to be Burgers, Jimmy's Famous BBQ chicken, Macaroni Salad, and his equally popular baked beans. We had two pans of beans and placed one behind the other so that we could just rotate the back to the front when needed. I remember pulling back the rear pan an inch or so to give us room to take off the lid from the front and hang it on the brackets behind the chaffing dishes.

The BBQ started off a little slow and I openly wondered if their count had been off. They had expected around 250 walkers to be served. But most of them were inside the building playing in the carnival that had been set up there. Shelly and I served while Jimmy cooked the burgers on the grill.

We were picking up quite nicely when it happened. For whatever reason, the rear pan came flying off of the table. It landed on it's side spraying baked beans all over the side of my van that had been washed a couple of hours earlier by the "I love Bend" group that had a free car wash on the corner of Purcell and Hwy 20.

The Sterno can popped out and spilt out over the beans catching some of their grease on fire also. I quickly grabbed the pan and placed it over the fire, dousing out most of the flames. Shelly yelled as she caught her foot on fire attempting to put out the rest. Thinking that I had the heat under control, I raised the pan only to find the flames rise again. I dropped the pan again and left it there till I was sure that the fire was out.

One of the walkers sprung to his feet and began serving while we assessed the situation. He yelled for a friend to bring us a flat shovel that was in his rig. We scooped up what we could and then dumped the remainder of the pan into the garbage. I took the pans inside to wash them in the schools kitchen. When I got there, a lady walked in and told me that she would finish my job. "You don't need to", I told her. "Yes, I do", she said, "I am the school administrator and I appreciate what you are doing for us. I will wash the pans and let you get back to your job.". Thanking her, I returned just in time to get the shovel and finish off the sticky mess. I then washed off the side of the van before the gooey mess hardened to make the job much harder.

We thanked the friends who had helped and went on doing our job. The serving went quite well with many coming back for seconds with the BBQ chicken that had become quite popular. Many of them took time to thank us which made the venture even more rewarding. With over 200 served and our job done, we packed up our equipment and returned to the diner around 5 or so.

I drove down to McMens to join Carrie and Jayden who were watching the Oregon/WSU football game that was soundly in Oregon's favor. Jayden was quite proud of the Duck shirt that he had one in a raffle. We enjoyed the rest of the game and I returned to the diner to check on dinner before leaving for home and a much needed rest.

Casey had called earlier so I had decided to stay up as long as I could to see him when he arrived. I nodded off a time or two but after two movies and the clock closing in on midnight, I decided to lock the door and call it a night.

Around 1 or so, Judy woke up with a start. "The doorbell!", she squealed. I had not heard it but believed her as I rolled out of the bed. She was already at the door before I had even had a chance to get to the stairs. It was great seeing Casey and Jess again and I stayed up for an hour or so talking before my body began screaming for rest. I knew it was best to get some rest as Sundays are by far our busiest days so I crawled back under the sheets to get that much needed rest, happy to have my son under my roof once more if not only for a few weeks.