Friday, July 24, 2009

The baloon lady

She shows up every Sunday to entertain the kids. No one really knows her name, we all just call her the balloon lady. She works for tips and we give her a free meal for her time. She is very talented and can make some pretty great creations. We have an Oregon Duck gracing our greeting stand right now from last Sunday. After being talked to by the Model A club, she decided to create a large model a. It took her all day to create and it now stands on top of our salad bar at least until it starts to go down.

Her creativity reminds me of a man that I met years ago in the old truck stop. A circus clown who showed up one day out of the blue. One of those characters that embeds into your memory and influenced me so much that I wrote a piece about him back then. I submit this story of our encounter years ago that I called:

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.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A Friend?

I need to preface this story with a little back ground. With the warm weather, I often stay up late, keeping the windows in the house all open to try and cool the place off just so I can get to sleep. Thursday was one of those hot days and I was up till about 1 in the morning, on Friday.

Judy had her Doctors in the back room so she went in early and left me sleeping in the bed. Our cashier was a young man of whom we really like who has been working for us mainly as a back up busser or cashier for a couple of years. Jake and his brother, Zach both work for us and come from a very great family background and are very good students. Jake did not really want to work this morning as he has another job down in Sunriver that he needed to do in the evening but I talked him into it or, I guess you could say, bribed him with one of his weaknesses, food.

He was taking the place of our main cashier who is dealing with an acute family issue. Judy and I have always tried to place family first so we are trying to let him have as much time as he needs to deal with his issue.

So, with that groundwork laid, Judy got to work and they got slammed. Normally, we have plenty of room in our main dining areas but it filled up and Judy began taking customers in the back room.

Everyone was hustling just to keep up and Jake received a call in order for an Eggs Benedict. Jake didn't really know much about Benedicts but took the order and hung it up. Normally, Judy, I , or one of the other waitresses would be the ones finishing up to go orders but as busy as they were, Jake had to do this one.

On Benedicts, I always have the cooks wait until the last minute to sauce them with the Hollandaise. Hollandaise breaks easy and we want the very best presentation so it goes on just before we serve. Jake was unaware of that and put his order together and it was picked up.

Jake soon received a phone call from a very upset woman. She yelled at him that we had just ruined her husbands birthday. A confused Jake took the call and apologised and tried to explain how he was unaware of the makings of the dish but the woman was not impressed. She said that she was on her way to get her Hollandaise.

Judy called me and asked me how I felt about her giving the woman a free meal certificate for having to come back and I told her that it was a great idea. The hollandaise and meal ticket awaited her return.

I arrived around 11 or so and we were still busy and beginning to transition between breakfast and lunch. Judy realized that the hollandaise was still there so she asked me how I felt about her trying to contact the woman using caller ID. My initial thought was why bother. I get so irritated at times when someone like that screams at the help especially when they apologise. Judy reminded me of what I had always taught her of how to let it go and attempt to save the customer. I told her that if she wanted to do the foot work and call the woman back that it would be fine with me.

I went out to the office and began some paperwork when Judy came in with all of the information including their address. I was surprised to see the name was a person that I had considered a friend. I pretty much know his entire family, his dad plays poker with me nearly every Monday, he has played quite a few times, and I used to work with his sister years ago.

I told Judy that he was a great guy and I was sure that the problem was just his wives as she was the one doing the talking. "If he had a problem, he would have called me.", I said. Judy told me that the woman was still not impressed even after she called and apologised and I told Judy how proud I was of her attempting what she did.

I pretty much put it out of my mind after that but did ponder on it some in the afternoon. If we only made one mistake during that busy time, I could live with that.

So, you can imagine my surprise when I was surfing the net last evening around 10 or so and found the following story on Craigs list of Rants and Raves:

Date: 2009-07-17, 10:12AM PDT

Good morning Americans,its my birthday,so we ordered breakfast from JAKES DINER (fully knowing its hit and miss anymore there)and they forgot the hollandais sauce for the eggs benedict.So their cook told us over the phone,it didnt come with hollandais sauce. Im sorry Lyle,but I feel me and my family and friends helped trough the years ,starting from the old location with all those 2 and 3 am sober-up breakfasts.And anyone who is from this town knows what im talking may still be thankfull for my dads 5 dollar donation per week.....but youve seen my last.With all the people out there unemployed,finding good help is no excuse.

I sat and stared at the screen not believing what I had just read. I sent him an email of which I cannot reveal without revealing his identity but lets just say I did not show any anger. I even finished it off with, Your Friend, Lyle.

I went into my bed room and noticed that Judy was not asleep yet and made the mistake of telling her then instead of waiting until the morning. Later, before I closed up the house for some much needed sleep, Judy came out and joined me. It had hurt her so much that she could not sleep. We talked for a while and then both went off to bed.

Now, I sit here in my office staring at the address and the ticket that Judy wrote up for the free meal. I just cannot decide if I want to send it off or not. Do I hold it as his words could keep someone who has never experienced us from coming in or do I follow through because Judy told them she would send it. These are the thoughts that run through my mind as I prepare for another hopefully busy Saturday morn.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Couple

They come in just about every night for dinner. They are a nice couple....quiet but sometimes demanding. I guess it would be more like just wanting something a particular way at a particular price.

They came in as usual on Thursday night for supper and when they left, there was a rather large billfold left on the booth with her initials on it. It was very full of bills. So full that she had to keep it together with rubber bands.

I called a friend who knew their number. I called them and the husband answered. I asked him if they were missing anything. "No", he said. "Does your wife have her wallet?", I answered. "No", he answered, "She just called me and she does not have her wallet".

"That is because it is here at Jake's"
"At Jake's Diner"
"Where are you located."
"Jake's Diner where you eat supper every night."
"OK, do you have an address?"
"It's Jake's Diner, this is Lyle."
"Oh....OK. I will tell her."

A bit later, she showed up and I gave her her purse. "I am so glad I got this back.", she said, "It has my ID and my credit card in it.". "I would be more worried about all of the money that you left.", I said. "We are going away and there are places that you can't use a card so I needed the money. But I sure am glad that no one took my credit card.".

She looked in her wallet, secure that nothing was stolen. "I should give someone a reward.", she said. "Ted was the honest man. Ted should get the reward.", I answered.
"How much should I give him." as she fumbled through the bills.
"That is up to you."
"Someone should get a reward."
"If anyone gets one, it should be Ted."

She gave me a huge hug (normally she is not a hugger). "Thank you so much.", she said. "Ted should get the thanks.", I countered. She looked up and smiled wrapping her wallet up with the rubber bands again. As she walked out the door, she turned and looked at me and said, "Well, you ought to give that guy a reward for that.". Then out she walked.

The Mariners game

My grandson and I have had tickets to this game for quite some time and were planning on flying up but found that the flight loads were not good so we ended up driving. We all seem to enjoy the drive up, however and we arrived at Safeco Field around an hour before the game.

The game was non eventful going into the top half of the ninth inning. With the Mariners up 3-0 and the Orioles only having three hits. Many of the faithful were walking out with this game just about in the books. Especially with the Mariners new star closer coming out to the mound. Sound explosions rocked the stadium as the jumbo tron hailed the mighty Aardsma. The jumbo tron showed fireball pitch after fireball pitch and a stat was put up that in the previous games, he had an era of .69. Yes, the game was secure with mighty Aardsma on the mound.....or was it. The young reliever seemed to have trouble with his pitches right off of the bat and before he knew it, the bases were loaded with no outs. Now, I can not blame the whole thing on him as the infield seem to bobble ball after ball also. I remember when Baltimore's fourth run crossed the plate. "That is the winning run.", I told my daughter. Soon, the mighty Aardsma was pulled for another pitcher but it was too late. The damage was done and the Orioles had a 5-3 lead.

Now, up to this point both Trinity and Jayden had been disappointed that they had not seen Ken Griffey Jr. play yet and with the last two batters up in the bottom half of the ninth, it seemed like a natural thing for the manager to do but the manager didn't listen to me. He sent up his two worst batters and their were soon two outs. With the game almost over and Ichiro up to bat, Jay informed us that he needed to go to the bathroom. "We might as well leave.", I stated. This game is as good as over, even if Ichiro gets a hit. The girls waited while Jay and I went into the bathroom.

The radio was piped into the bathroom and I heard that Ichiro got his hit. Then the announcer announced the next batter, Ken Griffey Jr. I yelled at Jay to hurry up and told him that Jr. was up. But as we washed our hands Jr. hit a grounder on his first pitch and the game was over. "Oh, well,", stated Jayden, "I guess I will have to wait till next year to see him play.".

With that, we walked to our car and headed home in rush hour traffic. We arrived home about midnight, tired but having enjoyed a nice road trip and major league game.

Friday, July 10, 2009


I was called Wednesday afternoon by the Bend PD and told that the two suspects in the burglary have been taken into custody. I have since been informed that one of the suspects has been released pending a court date. Since no one can tell me the reasons behind this release, I can only assume that their reasoning is that our state feels that burglary is not a violent crime and we need to keep room in our jails for those more violent criminals. What I hear of this person, however, is that he has a very strong personality and prone to violent acts.

It will be interesting to see just how the DA's Office handles this one. My faith has been shaken there by previous encounters. I can only hope that this one ends well.

Back in 2005, our offices were burglarized and our safe was stolen. After they were arrested and released, I was called by Mike Dugan who said that he would personally handle the case. He called me again before the case was brought up and informed me that one of the men involved but was not actually in the burglary had agreed to a plea bargain for theft instead of burglary. He asked how I felt and I agreed. The court date was set and I was prepared to go down and watch. But someone in the court system put the date up by a month and I was not called and informed of the change. my surprise, I received a letter from the DA's office informing me that both of the defendants had been charged with theft. The DA's assistant assigned to the case read the notes wrong and the other defendant was given the same deal. This would not have happened had I been informed of the case and allowed my day in court. The third defendant's court date came and I went down to the courtroom. I was already informed that the court would have to give her the same sentence as the others. Their reasoning was that they had to be fair. I am not sure where the fairness there was regarding me, however. I was able to challenge the court that day and the judge did issue me an apology but that did not change the outcome.

Last year, my wife's car was sideswiped. I was just turning into the street and witnessed the car just after it hit. As a matter of fact, I thought it was going to hit me. The person lived just a couple of houses up from me and had fresh white paint the very same distance from the ground as the marks on Judy's car. The woman's explanation's were very erratic and she was caught in more than one lie. The police felt that they had a case and the DA's assistant agreed so she was arrested.

Just before the court date, I was called by a new assistant. The original had left the department and this one did not feel that they had a case. The reason was that I had not actually seen her hit Judy's car. I was told that it would be a waste of tax payers money to take this case to the court and the case was dropped.

I will live with whatever outcome happens but I do hope that this one turns out better than the previous ones.

Monday, July 6, 2009

A busy fourth....Part 2

The middle of the day for me was somewhat uneventful. We spent much of our time in preparation for the evening event. I brought out all of the decorations and one of the cooks who came in early volunteered to put them out for me.

Sometime mid afternoon, I kind of hit a wall and as I was working in my office, my eyelids started getting very heavy. I put my feet up on my desk and drifted off to a quick nap. I don't know how long I slept but it could not have been very long when Jim came through the door to get something. I immediately got up and went back at it with the power nap refreshing me.

As we looked over the last minute items, Judy made a discovery. We were serving ribs with no wipes. Judy and I jumped in the car just as some of the Model A guys showed up along with some of the vets from the parade that had just finished.

We made a quick run to United Grocers to pick up the wipes and while we were there, picked up some smaller plates for the senior and kids plates. We arrived back and made ready for the mad rush that was to be expected. We stood outside talking to some of our Model A friends when we realized that it was almost time for the BBQ and there did not seem to be very many people there. I began to worry that either the word had not gotten out well enough or there was just too many things going on.

We started the BBQ and I got Judy to set up the Vets where she wanted them. I then went out and let all that I could know that the feeding frenzy was on. Even though there seemed to be not that many people there, the line soon went out through the entry way and into the parking lot.

Someone told me that Judy needed me and I went in to check on her. She had been trying to get the vet who was greeting to give out the right plates but he kept giving out the small plates to all. I quickly assessed the situation and told her to just pull all of the smaller plates. After all, it is best if they all get the bigger plates than if they get the small and think that they are cheated.

Vivian Gulley,our customer who always wants to help was working with the vets serving out the meat and was doing a bang up job there along with the Vietnam vets who were working along side her. I quickly noticed another problem that was hitting us. For some reason and the only thing that I could figure was the sheer volume of customers, we had what seemed to be a kind of knot in the flow right in the middle of the line. Customers were trying to go down the line, others who had their food were trying to come back through as the seats in the back room and deck were full, and still other vets were trying to serve drinks and assist other customers.

I walked outside to talk to Jimmy about it and he made a comment on how it seemed to be going real casual. "You are not inside, buddy, it is a mad house there.". We talked it over and decided that we needed to bring it all outdoors the next time weather permitting. As we spoke, someone told me that Judy needed me inside. As I walked in the door, I could hear a hiss coming from the waitress room. Judy showed me where the Pepsi machine had blown it's release valve. I quickly grabbed the phone and was soon talking to the emergency man from Pepsi who walked me through the pressures and felt that it would be OK to keep running until he arrived.

I walked around checking on things as I walked, talking with happy customers and backing up where ever I was needed. As I walked along the line, I noticed that the beans were soon to be out. I grabbed one of the cooks to move the beans over from the back up steamer to the line. All of this had to happen at the same knot in the middle of the line that I eluded to earlier. My thoughts went back to a cater event that we did last fall for a school in Redmond where we lost a pan of beans all over the back of the van. I worried as there were just so many people close by but managed to keep the line back as the cook moved the pan over. Relieved that we were OK, I opened the line back up and we kept on serving.

I was informed that we were working on the last pan of BBQ and people were still working their way through. When it got close, Judy shut the line down to insure that the all you can eaters got enough. I went out and talked to the band while they were on break to find out who wanted some BBQ and came back in to find just enough left to make them up a container each.

As I walked into the waitress station, I noticed Judy was cutting some pies. "Where are our waitresses?", I asked. "I have no idea.", Judy returned. We were right in the middle of the transition between BBQ, desert, and ordering off of the menu and there were no waitresses in sight. I found one of them in the cashier station and sent her back. I asked if anyone knew where the second waitress was and someone told me that she had gone over to the store. Shocked, I began looking for her and sent one of the cooks after her also. Ten minutes or so later, she casually walked into the front door eating some BBQ. I asked her if she wanted to work and she said, "Yes.". I said, 'Well, if you do, you best get out on the floor.". The scowl on my face told her that she best just not say anything and she went back to work.

Confident that all was now in order, I went back out into the lot and talked to some of the people there. Everywhere I went, all seemed to have really enjoyed the BBQ and they were now enjoying the band playing and the company around them. Richard had put together another stellar group and a friend of his who used to play for the Paul Butterfield Blues Band showed up and began to play harmonica.

Judy came out, told me that she was very tired and was heading home. She said goodnight to all and jumped in her car and left. The band soon winded down and began its break down so I went to the register to get their money ready. After paying the band and walking back in, I noticed that the waitstaff seemed frazzled. I stepped out onto the floor and noticed many dirty tables so I jumped in to help. As I began to clean, the waitresses began asking for assistance. Trying to put together desserts for them, I soon noticed others going out to the deck area. Quickly assessing the situation, I relieved the cashier and sent him out to the deck to take their orders. I knew that I could best back up others from the cashier station than the back deck.

Pies were cut, milkshakes made, Ice cream was served, and drinks were poured. As the line at the register continued to be long, a couple of women who were in the line approached the register. "I will have three ice creams.....two chocolate pies.....three glasses of glass of ice......three napkins......and oh yes, two forks and three spoons. I took it all down and told them that I would be right with them while putting the order to the side for a second. I felt that I could get the line out quickly and then get right to them. "Aren't you going to get my ice cream?", came the request. "Yes, In just a second.". One of the ladies went to the bathroom while the other told her that she was going to stay right there to make sure that they got their desserts. I smiled and kept on going. The line kept growing and the ladies kept waiting. I noticed one of the waitresses walking by and I asked her to fill my order. She quickly went back and put it together. She returned in short order but I believe that the ladies were still not impressed. I could only smile and say that I was sorry as they went out the door.

The cashier returned from the deck and I went about my job of breaking things down and cleaning up. I stepped out on the darkened deck that was still full and switched on the light. They all thanked me and everyone seemed to be having a good time. I told them all how to switch off the light when the fireworks start and assured them that they were welcome to stay on the deck during the display.

I looked over and noticed that the shade for the band was still up. I grabbed a couple of vets who were still around and quickly began to put the shades down and put them away in storage. The time now was well after nine PM and the fireworks were soon to begin up on the butte. My buddy, Zin, asked me if their was anything else that he could do for me and I let him know that he could help me finish cleaning off the tables on the deck and clean them.

As frazzled as I felt at the time, I was just about to get my pleasant surprise for the night. Like a breath of fresh air, in through the door, came Kina from Piazanos in Baker City along with two of her girls.....her "A" team as she called them. It really picked up my spirits to have her come by but I needed to keep moving so she told me that she planned to stop by on Monday before she returned to Baker. Zin walked in about that time and I introduced him to her and told her that he was helping even though he didn't work there. "Now that is a good customer.", I believe she said.

A bunch of kids came in the door and I told them that the kitchen was closed. "Can't we have some milkshakes?", they asked. I asked Kara if she wouldn't mind and she began making eight milkshakes up as quickly as possible. I told the crew that it was totally up to them if they wanted to watch the fireworks or not. I then went out and joined my friends in the Model A club for the remaining few minutes before ten. I noticed some bottle rockets going up from the middle of the group and I went over and asked the young people there to please stop or move out of the lot. They looked back from glassy drunken eyes from their three cars that they had put together in a group to seemingly block what they were doing in the middle from view.

The fireworks started and I ran inside and turned off the building lights so that all could see. I returned to claps and hoots and soon realized that much of it was thank yous for the better view that I had just given them. I settled down in my chair and enjoyed the 2009 version of the event that is a highlight of the summer. Now, usually, you will hear someone listening to the radio and hear patriotic music going along with the display but tonight, I heard two different songs playing at the same time. One of them was patriotic and the other was Michael Jackson. I heard angry words behind me as two men argued over the music that was going on. I was just flat out to tired to worry about it. I sat there nodding off as the fireworks blew off of the butte.

The fireworks were soon over and I began to work with the crew getting the last of everything cleaned up and put away. As I walked out of the door, I noticed someone from the group in the middle bringing his spent fireworks over and dumping them in my garbage out front. Now, I had place water buckets around in various places to handle this type of thing and I did not want to have a fire, so I quickly grabbed up the bag and took it over to the larger bin putting it out where if it did catch fire, it would not cause any problems. I then went around picking up the water buckets with the assistance of two of the dishwashers sons. There was a stack of crushed beer cans and empty beer bottles where the three vehicles took up their spot in the middle. I found out later that they were the Michael Jackson people also.

As I was working a young lady with a small child asked me if I was the owner and when I said yes, she said that her daughter really needed to use the bathroom. I gladly opened up the diner for them and went over and visited with Carrie and Jayden who were still around. Confident that the building was secure, I closed up and set the alarms.

Arriving home sometime around midnight, I drew myself a hot bath and soaked while I thought of the many things that I had experienced that evening. I recalled at one time that I even wondered to myself if I had bit off more than I could chew this time. I ended up falling asleep while soaking and upon waking up, dragged myself off to bed to make ready for the Sunday that was to come.

Happy Fourth of July everyone and thank you for making our Fifth Annual BBQ and Blues a great success.

A busy fourth....Part One

It is now a couple of days after the fourth but it was one of those days that will remain embedded in my mind for a while. Part of the day was slow and somewhat uneventful but other parts were of the most intense that I have recalled (right up there with the first few weeks that we opened in our new building).

I got up early that morning and drove to Lowes to get some flowers for the deck. A couple of days before, the girl who leads the closing team told her crew to leave them out in the rain. Her thoughts were in the right place but she did not recall my instructions to never do so. By morning, they were gone. Someone drove by, saw them, and loaded them into their own car. They are either hanging on someones deck or were sold to get money for more drugs. I fear the latter. To me, drugs are the thing that is spurring on the things that have happened both to me and to some of our other close by businesses.

As the case in many other busy businesses in town, I am also aware of the transactions that occur in our lot from time to time. My lot is off of the road and quite often loaded with cars so it is an easy choice for such acts. I am always watching for such things and stand ready to assist the police if it is needed. The first time that I noticed such a thing was last summer. I was watering those same plants on the deck when I saw a truck come in and just park by the apple trees. As I watered, I noticed them just sitting in the truck and thought they were waiting for other friends to meet them there for lunch. Then, I spied the woman walking across the lot. She seemed somewhat out of place and I stopped and watched as she walked up to that truck and began to talk with them. I saw her hand something in to them and then saw her receive what looked like a box of candy. It looked like a large box of good and fruity that you would get at the movie or something. The woman then just kept on walking. I was angry but knew better than to confront and as they backed out, they noticed me looking at them. The man stopped his truck and stared at me. The woman next to him, raised her hands in anger as if to say "What are you looking at.". I wanted to point at myself, my eyes, and then back at them as if to say, "I am watching you.". But, I just kind of ignored them and kept on watering my plants as if I did not see their gestures and they pulled out of the lot.

So, as I hung my new plants up on the deck, I noticed a small red car pulling into the lot and taking up position in that same area of the trees. The young man driving had sunglasses on and seemed to be looking my way. I felt that he might be looking to see if I noticed him. I finished my plants and noticed him still sitting in his car and then was sure that I knew what was going on.

I became angry especially after all that has happened to us in that light with the break in and such and went out to my office and grabbed my camera. As I walked through the waitress station, most of the crew was making ready for the day. "Does anyone want to help me confront one of these druggie fruitcakes!", I announced in my anger. "I am tired of them attempting to use our lot and am not going to have any more of this. If the police cannot stop it, I can.". As expected, Toni fell in line right behind me along with one of the other girls.

As I bolted out the door, I let them know what I was going to do. "First I am going to take a picture of his car and then we are going to tell him to leave and not come back.", I announced. I readied my camera and noticed the young man getting out of his car. "Good, I will take his picture also.". Toni stopped in her tracks and said, "Hey Lyle, it's Kenny.". I stopped and looked up to see one of our bussers get out of the car. He must have been either talking on his cell phone or listening to some music on his stereo.

We all broke out in a laugh as I apologised to the stunned Kenny for my thoughts but for the rest of the day, the crew got quite a laugh at my expense and teased the drug dealing Kenny relentlessly. I recall one of the waitresses asking him once what he was doing (she needed some drinks for a customer). "I am waiting for a call from my supplier.", He stated back. She stopped and looked at him and said, "That is not funny.". I turned to her and said, "Yes, it is.".

If you laugh at others, you must be prepared to laugh at yourself.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Restaurant Neighbor Award

Five years ago, I was still working for Jake's Truck Stop. I was aware that their was an offer on the business but was being told that it would never happen. With that knowledge, however, I was keeping my eyes open trying to be prepared just in case it did. I often felt back then that I was at the end of a dead end job where I had advanced myself to the highest level possible but that level was not enough to insure Judy and I with a needed future retirement. Try as I may, I could not imagine what was to happen in the coming months let alone years.

Now, less than five years later, I am not only in the position of owning the business that I loved back then but now we have received our second major award in less than two months. The Oregon Restaurant Association's Restaurant Neighbor Award for small business. If you follow that link, it will take you to the press release recently given on the ORA site.

I am not sure who nominated us, but it was first brought to my attention by the area rep for the association a few weeks ago. She asked me to submit some of the various community support that Jake's has done in the past year. I agreed and submitted it and was soon followed up with a telephone from some one within their staff. I didn't give either of those communications much thought and was surprised to receive a letter last week from them.

In the letter, it said that we had won one of the winners of awards from Oregon but not what in particular that we had won. As I read the letter, I was confused as to whether their were many award winners or just one. I read the letter a couple more times and then did some investigation on the computer of previous years and realized that we must have won for one of the categories. The recent press release now clears out just which one.

We will be honored at the awards ceremony at the yearly convention held in Sunriver in late September. But even more exciting is that we are now in the running for the national award that will be given in Washington DC a week prior to. All of the various state winners will be listed in a directory of sorts highlighting all of the winners.

I am truly flattered by this attention and humbled by the thoughts of all of the various people that have had a part in the takeover, subsequent move, and advancement of Jake's in it's present spot. I am truly thankful for each and every one of them, for the various friends that I have met and made in those five years, and for the community that not only helped Jake's survive but helped it flourish in what had been considered the worst location in town.