Friday, November 28, 2008


Wow, what a day! The fun can best be shown by the video from KTVZ. We are the second part of the video starting when you see the musicians playing.

Although the day started for me around nine or so, it started for Jake's much earlier when Jim and his daughter, Paula showed up to start preparing the kitchen. I immediately began working on the mapping of the customer reservations. Big Richard showed up and took over the phone responsibilities while I worked. Judy showed up and then my buddy, Frank and we began the transformation of the front area to prepare for the start at noon. I felt bad for Judy as she was just starting to get over a cold and I knew that she was still not feeling that great and I am sure that she would have much better enjoyed a day of rest but I understood why she was there as it is probably our most important and impacting day of the year.

Soon, some of the volunteers showed up and began to jump in and help also. I had a few of our employees who had volunteered show others how to serve and where to work. Around eleven, a couple of customers showed up and told me that they had reservations for eleven. One was a sweet lady who was by herself. I found her reservation for noon but invited her in since the food was nearly ready to go. She sat in the corner and ate while we finished our preparations. A few of the volunteers stopped by her table and talked with her along the way.

The other customer was not quite so easy. She demanded to know why she had been told eleven when her reservations on my sheet was for three. I asked her when she had called and she said the day before and gave me the name of the cashier who had taken her reservation. Realizing that she probably did not know what the event was all about, I began to explain it to her. I even told her that before she came in, she needed to realize that all of the people serving her today were volunteers and that the service that she would receive would be not the normal because of that. This did not impress her and she asked if that particular cashier was there. I was glad to tell her no and I did not lie as he had not arrived yet. He and his brother who used to work for us were due in any time as they were donating their time also. I told her that I could find her a place at noon but she might want to rethink of whether she wanted to come in or not. She said that she wanted to so I left her waiting in the front entrance.

Around 11:30, Jim Crowley (the Chaplain from the police dept and a friend) showed up and we all gathered in the main floor while he blessed the event with a prayer. Judy told me later that that was the one of the more impacting times of the day. I really appreciated Jim taking the time from his busy day to start ours off on the right foot.

Soon the customers began showing up and the first wave of deliveries went out the door. Al from Exquisite Hardwood Floors handled the deliveries along with his brother and his boys and ended up not charging any of the recipients and paying for them when he finished up for the day.

During the first hour, a man from KOHD stuck his head in the door and asked if he could video. He said that he was looking for busy businesses of the day. I told him that this was not a normal day and explained what was happening to him. He said that he needed to talk to his producer first and I told him that was fine and he was welcome. A few minutes later, I saw a camera on the floor and thought it was him. Then I recognized the camera man was from KTVZ. That was only because this particular cameraman, Clemens, had showed up at other times and I have noticed his hard work behind the scenes and admired it. I am not sure whether KOHD saw him show up or whether they decided that this was not newsworthy but they never came back in. I later watched their news thinking they had shot and I had missed it and saw that the busy business segment of their show went to the liquor store.

Clemens seemed to be enjoying his work as much as our volunteers were of theirs and he was able to capture some of the more fun times of the event in the segment from the first part of this writing. I ducked home to set up recording of the news and then dove back into the fray. My job was to be everywhere, checking on people; both help and customers and helping out where ever I was needed.

As was last year, the handshakes, thanks, hugs, and kisses were overwhelming from happy seniors who were enjoying themselves. I received only one complaint myself and that was of that original customer who I had talked to at the beginning. She made it a point to let me know that I needed to train my staff better on taking down the reservations. She informed me that he had also told her that it was all you can eat. I asked her if she was full and if I could get her something else. She said that their was more than enough but the cashier had been misleading in more ways than one. I stopped, looked at her and began trying to tell her of this same young man. I apologized for the misunderstanding but let her know that it was his first day back after a few months and that he was working only a couple of days after having his wisdom teeth taken out. All that and being thrown into a busy day where he had to handle the register and the last minute reservations. I felt the need to defend him but it seem to mean nothing to her so I just let it go and wished her a good day.

The entertainment this year was awesome starting off with the Taelour project, the Singing Sosas, James (our newest addition), and Mike who brought a friend. Each one brought a different perspective with them The Singing Sosas have been with us since the first year and the Taelour project is our band who plays here three times each summer in our parking lot. James brought a new twist this year. He encouraged the seniors to sing along with him and a few times the entire floor was singing to his music. I finally had to ask James to finish up as the customers did not want to leave and the next hour was waiting patiently in the lobby to be seated.

Midway through the day, many of our crew volunteers had to leave but before they left, they taught others how to do their jobs and so the transition went well. Although the last two hours this year seemed to be the most stressful much because of the numbers of the people. We began running out of various food including stuffing and particular pies during the last hour as the event began to wind down.

Barb, a cashier who used to work for us and now works in a Library in Eugene came in for the day and ran our register for us. I was happy for this as I knew that that area would be one that I did not have to worry about. Many of the customers commented that it was good to see her again also. She had also contolled all of the tips. Over $500 in tips were recieved and will be turned over to Salvation Army to help someone in need this Christmas season.

After all had been served, tired volunteers finally got to sit down and enjoy the food that they had been serving. I recall being so exhausted that I really did not feel like eating but knew that I needed to.

My grandson, Jayden, who had been greeting and seating people along with my daughter, Carrie and our friend, Vivian asked me if I would watch a movie with him that night. They had rented ''Get Smart" the night before and he wanted to show it to me. You grandpas out their know what I mean when I say that it doesn't matter how tired you are, you are never too tired to do something with your grandchildren. And besides, I was so proud of him for the way he handled himself that day. So many seniors had commented on how polite he had been when seating them. He even grinned to show me the three dollars that had been given to him.

One by one, the volunteers all left and we finished up the final clean up. I took one last look through the place, locked up and set the alarm.

Jay and I drove to his house to retrieve the video and I was so tired that I was having a hard time concentrating on the game that he had set up for us to do along the way. Jay loves to do memory type games involving things that are of interest to him at the time. Usually, it is about some sort of sports. Tonight it was college football and we began to go back and forth with games between various colleges.

Arriving at the house with the video, I quickly checked the news and found the entertaining segment. I called Frank up and he came over to see it also. Frank, Jay, and I went up to the TV room and watched Jay's movie. I enjoyed Jays giggles as much as what I watched on the screen. Their were a couple of parts that I knew that we needed to discuss later, however.

The movie over, Frank left and Jay readied himself for bed. I sat on the side of the bed and told him how proud I was of how the seniors had really enjoyed him and how polite he had been. He seemed to have a hard time as he often does with that kind of praise. He is such a great kid and always seems to strive to do his best in those kinds of situations.

I then pulled myself off to my bed and dropped to sleep immediately. I awoke two hours later. Judy was not next to me so I figured that I must have been snoring. I found her sleeping with Jay so then I was sure of it.

I lay awake and then began to realize that I have not prepared for Black Friday. I don't have enough waitresses, dishwashers, or bussers. I was so busy preparing for Thanksgiving that I overlooked this busy day. I guess I will have to get up early and start making some phone calls.


Anonymous said...

Nicely written as always, Lyle. I, too, thought Clemens did a very nice job with his piece. A belated but very sincere Happy Thanksgiving to you and all the Jake's family.

diner life said...

Thanks Barney. You guys have quite a guy in Clemens. He is one of those behind the scenes workers that most people don't see and thus don't realize.

Thanks to KTVZ for acknowledging his work.

Happy Holidays to you and yours.