Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I Love my Ducks?

I took the girls and Jay to the Virginia game at the new arena in Eugene on Sunday. We packed up the car right after Jay took a quick needed shower from his Lacrosse practice.

The new arena is beautiful and there are no bad seats. Ours were in the top row just behind the Oregon bench. We had a great view of the floor and though I could not make out the names on the back of their jerseys, I pretty much knew from sight or from the announcers shouts who they were as they played.

Just before the game, we were all told to stand, take off our hats, face the flag, and honor it with the national anthem. Now, that was one thing I could not see from my perch was the flag. The reason was that a side board that showed stats throughout the game was blocking it. I looked to see where the crowd was looking and my eyes moved past the Duck bench. What I saw made my blood boil. A line of players were standing facing towards the flag.....but many of them were looking down at their feet. They seem to be fidgeting, anxious for the game to start. I wanted to scream out but from my distance, they would have not heard. The coach was standing behind them. I am not sure if he had his hand over his heart or not but in my mind, I was yelling....."Get those guys in line! Honor our flag!"

I turned and found the flag but my experience had been tempered with the thought of these young men....and their ungrateful poses. Throughout the game it gnawed at me. It almost seemed fitting that they lost. Someone should tell them....but who?

After the game, we stopped for gas and food and arrived back in Bend around 7 or so. That night, when I could not sleep, I drifted around the net and looked for analysis of the game. As I opened up the sports page, I was taken by the article of Jeremy Shockey of the Carolina Panthers and how he had called out certain Houston Texans for the same thing that had bugged me at he Duck game.

The thoughts of how I had felt flooded through my mind and I set myself off on a mission. First to discover who the athletic department head was. I knew that Mike Bellotti had taken the job for a very short time a couple of years back but had left quickly. So, I searched and found that the new man's name is Rob Mullens. I then searched for an access email but only found the website for the Ducks. So, I went to goducks.com and searched finding only the contact page. It said that I could email the athletic department so that is where I made my stand.

The following was my complaint:

Now, I want to preface this with a statement. I am a die hard true blue (er green and yellow) Duck fan. I have been for as far back as I remember.

I took my kids to the recent Virginia game and sat in section 205 behind the Duck bench.

As the national anthem started, I could not see the flag so I looked around to see where the people were looking so that I could pay tribute to it myself.

What I found, however, shocked me to the core. The line of Ducks had many of them staring....at their shoes! I stood and watched as they shuffled and squirmed, looking down and not up at the colors that we all should be giving honor to.

I know the coach could see this as he was standing behind them.

There are very few things that could make me turn my back on my beloved team......this is one of them!

Please......Please......Please......have the coach inform them of where their respect is due.

I am sure that you had enough cameras going that you should be able to see what I am talking about.

As a patriot and a Vietnam vet, I implore you to look into this situation.

Lyle Hicks

I punched the send button and went back off to bed. I received the following reply from whom ever screens the emails for the website:

Lyle, thank your feedback. We have forwarded your email on to the appropriate sources for further review.

I am a bit perplexed as to who the appropriate sources are (desk clerk?) and what their further review will be (round file?).

I will assure you of one thing, I do not intend to let it go. If we do not teach our children the due respect for our flag, our country, and what we have fought for where shall we go and what are we doomed for?

This same point was driven home by the chaplain today at the beginning of the Band of Brothers meeting. He encouraged the over 100 strong meeting to teach their children and their grandchildren the true story of our country, what we stand for, what we have all fought for, and why. This is not being taught in our schools and can only be taught by us.

Now, I can't see myself going to any more of the games this season, but rest assured, I will be watching for this whenever the cameras of the televised games show them. And I hope that their are others who will also make this stand and hold our youth accountable.

Thank you, Mr Shockey for the encouragement. Your stand will lead to others.

May God bless America!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Tis the Season

We are only a little over a week away from Christmas. Wow, how the year has passed. This is the season that most people feel the desire to give. The man on the street corner, the bell ringer in front of the store, or the various organizations whose responsibility is to help such as food banks or shelters.

But, what of the season just afterwards......The coldest time of the year. What do we do then?

Back in 1995, I remember reading an article that a friend had written where he ended up giving his Christmas bonus out in a variety of ways to people who he met who he saw needed it more than him. I was warmed and inspired by the words that he wrote.

In January of the next year, I was driving home from work and had parked on the south side of Albertsons and was getting back in my car after my purchases. As I started my car, my lights fell on a figure huddled against the wall. His crouching body with head down showed me that he was trying to stay warm away from the wind that was howling around the building.

I sat there, my car at idle, and stared at the figure. My daughter sitting next to me broke my silence when she spoke, "You are going to do something, Dad, aren't you?". She knew me well and I slipped out of my warm idling car and crouched down next to him. I still recall his haunting eyes as they looked up at me from under the dirty ball cap.

I asked him when he last ate. He stated the day before, he thought. Reaching in my pocket, I extracted a business card and wrote on the back. I told him that the diner was only a block or so down the road, invited him to it, and then told him that he could go to the truck stop side afterwards and get a shower if he wished.

The next morning, a smiling cleaner face met me in the truckers lounge as I arrived at work. I saw him from time to time after that and we always greeted each other. While I don't know what ever happened to him, the incident caused my mind to begin to wander on the subject and a food and clothing drive began from it that I named MOW for Middle of Winter.

Customers began dropping off warm clothes, blankets, sleeping bags, and food. Others left money that I used to purchase more sleeping bags since they were the thing most in demand. Originally, we ran this drive from January to March each year.

As the years progressed, the drive remained but evolved. At first, it was St Vincent de Paul who did the distributing. Then I met Capt John from the Salvation Army. I came to know and love him and his family and while he was here in Bend, they became my distribution point. We also shared a love of football and the same teams, The Oregon Ducks and the San Diego Chargers. I stopped to see him in Newport last September when Judy and I were there visiting bragging that I now knew Dan Fouts just so I could watch his envious reaction.

Then came the Band of Brothers and Chuck Hemmingway who leads Central Oregon Veterans Outreach (COVO). Last year, we agreed to use them as the main distribution point and something else happened. While I pulled the bins sometime in the spring, the supplies never stopped. Most every week, someone drops by clothes or supplies and every Monday, Chuck or someone else takes them down to the COVO office where they are distributed directly to the ones who need them the most.

My friend, Brian Standiford, who is the service manager for Smolich Hyundai in front of us even brings back brand new sleeping bags on a regular basis helping fill this need that is year around but especially prevalent in the coming colder months.

I used this story when I addressed a Christian Businessman's group that meets at the diner last week. It is my hope that it might inspire other thoughts and ideas just as the article had laid the foundation for this so many years ago.

Yes, it is Christmas Season.....the time when we are inspired to give. But remember, this is only one month. There are eleven more afterwards and each one will give us opportunities. And, I would add, our responsibility to make the best of them....and hopefully make a difference in this world.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A busy season

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.