The Christmas season is traditionally a busy time for us all. Besides the normal business, there are parties to prepare for, parades to be part of, Shopping, and decorations.
But, this year, I have had to add something new to the list, bookkeeping. Our bookkeeper, Summer, is on maternity leave so with the help of Casey (who has never had any training), I am attempting to keep up this very important part of the business at a very crucial time of the year.
It has brought me back to my roots in the business, however. Back when I first started working for Jake's in 1982, I only worked the fuel islands for a couple of months before I was brought up into the office to assist in the books. I was taking accounting classes at COCC back then so the new job became a practical application for my classes and also helped me gain a pretty good foundation for my first management job there when I was promoted to Restaurant manager.
It seems so many years ago but I remember much of it so well. A few years later after beginning computer classes, I even wrote the first accounting package for the business. Jake allowed me to purchase an old XT model computer. In fact, it was the computer that Oregon Computers (now ORCOM) first started their business with. They had upgraded to the new AT and we purchased their original computer, printer, and home made printer stand complete with carpet lining to help muffle out the sound. Even though the computer was upgraded a short time later, the printer remained our main printer for many years to come.
I recall how I had never really used a ten key before and how I practised over and over until I was able to use it without looking at it. I was placed in a room with their then main bookkeeper who seemed to be there for window dressing. She spent much of her time on the phone, or doing her nails, or ......talking. She often took an extended lunch break sunning herself on the roof outside of the office. I soon found out that I was actually hired to take her place and she was sent down to the fuel desk in a promotion of sorts.
I am so thankful for those years that laid out the foundation for understanding the business that I would later come to call my own. Back then, I couldn't decide if I wanted to attempt to become an accountant or a computer programmer. I didn't realize that God had something totally different in store for me.
When I took the business over, I attempted to keep the same structure that was laid out so many years ago which included a vacation benefit and end of year, Christmas bonuses. I wanted the crew to feel comfortable and wanted to show them that I was committed to more than just profit.
After we moved to our existing building, we added something to the Christmas part by holding an annual Christmas party. Jimmy will produce the main course (Meat and Potatoes) and the crew will bring a dish of their own. It made for a good time to give them their bonuses and allowed Judy and I to add something new to our tradition. We call it the 'Judy & Lyle appreciation awards'. It has become the vehicle to have a little fun while we take time to show them that we care for them as a family not just as employees.
So, each year, we sit down the week before the event and attempt to come up with something either funny or flattering regarding each and every one of them. This has become even more trickier as the years go by when you try not to just duplicate something that you have used in the past.
Today is the day and we have spent the last week preparing for the event. Each year, we have tried to give it a different flavor and this year, I think our games should be very entertaining. We have also invited a couple of our friends from the Band of Brothers who help us out with the meeting and have become greater parts or our extended family. I believe the highlight of the evening just might be one of our new games. We will ask for 12 volunteers (Judy will pick if we don't get any), place them in a line, put candy canes in their mouths, and sing the twelve days of Christmas. It should be very entertaining and fun.
Last year, a local businessman stopped in for supper thinking we were open. I invited him in, placed him in one of the booths, got him some prime rib, and allowed him to watch our festivities. He later told me that he really enjoyed himself and that it would be something that he would not soon forget.
While going over the list of employees this past week, I was overwhelmed at the number who either came with us so long ago or started shortly there after. It is my hope and desire that this event will show all of them that even though I push them during the year, I care for all of them deeply and appreciate the fact that they have stuck with Judy and I for these years.
Merry Christmas everyone. May your holidays be happy ones.