Friday, July 27, 2012

The day of the Article

July 27, 2012
I awoke early and a bit anxious.  I knew that this was the day that the Bulletin article was to be published.  Thoughts washed through my brain as I somehow anticipated the worst.  I had felt so comfortable with the young lady who was writing it that I opened up to her more than I do most media and since I have been burned in the past, I guess that I worried of what kind of spin might be taken.  Or if I had said "I" to many times ( I know that it is not just me, but would the article lead a reader to think that I felt otherwise).  I do realize that Jake's is very popular in the area but the reason for that lies in so many places and with so many people.  From employees to customers, my mind rang of names of people who help make Jake's what it is.
I could not sleep so I got up early, showered, and drove down to work.  Ordering up some breakfast, I sat at the counter to eat it and to read for myself.  The first thing I saw was our picture and that Judy looked real well in it so that was my first concern put to the side.  I smiled inside as I read the kind words that were laid out in front of me.   I folded up the article and went off to my office to put it to the side.
I figured that we might get a bit busy from it and told the crew to prepare but the day actually started off a bit slow.  At 9, when the bulk of the crew is ready to go, we were only partially full.  Dark thoughts rang out in my mind as I imagined someone reading the article and thinking that we were doing well so we really did not need to be supported.  Funny how those thoughts work.
Then, the doors opened up and the crowds started to build to their usual Sunday crescendo.  I bobbed around, pouring coffee, putting out fires, busing, delivering, and organizing.  The day flew by with it's busyness and it was soon time for lunch.  The kitchen was still quite full, so I grabbed a cheese sandwich to keep my sugar in it's proper place.
I had heard so many positive remarks regarding the article that when the first negative came in, it kind of broadsided me a bit.  Actually, it was not the first negative but I took in the source for the first.  The first had come from one of the daily coffee drinkers on the counter.  He is always one who spins the negative in most things so when he told me that the article was to long and that he had put it down after only reading a few paragraphs because it was so boring it didn't bother me....I actually laughed inside knowing the source.
But, I was giving the cashier a break and taking in some money from a family who were just leaving.  "Do those hats expand?", she said.  I thought she was interested in purchasing one of our hats so I took one off to show her how they did.  "Good, because you are going to need a new one after all that lady said about you in the paper!".  I stopped and looked at her for a second but could not read the body language at all.  She did not smile nor frown.  She paid and turned away and left, her poker face still in place.
The next person in line must have read what was on my mind as they stated, "Well, I loved what they wrote.  You and Judy are very worthy of what was said.  Keep up the good work!".  I thanked him for his kind words and directed my mind where it needed to be....on my job.
Before I knew it, it was time to close and we retired back to the house and sat on the porch reflecting on all of the kind words that had been said during the day.  I told Judy of the two dissenting voices and she stated that you cannot please them all.
Now normally, after the afternoon clean up, I go back down to the diner, fix myself some supper, and close up for the evening.  But tonight, the hoods were being done. I drove down and found that they were still hours away so I drove down the hill to the newest addition to the neighborhood, Baldies.  I parked and walked inside.
I was greeted at the door by a young lady who asked me if I was eating in or taking out.  When I said take out, she directed me to another young lady who was wrapping silverware. "She will take your order.".
I sat across from the young girl and said "I hope you don't mind me sitting here while I decide what I want.".  "I don't mind at all as long as your nice!" came the smiling reply.  We talked of their new opening and she shared with me that they were now open for breakfast when one of our mutual customers came over.  "Checking out the competition?"  I smiled.  "Actually, I closed at 3, they are doing my hoods so I cannot get into the kitchen, and I got a bit hungry.  Brian does a good job so I thought it a good stop for a bite on the way home.".  We laughed and talked and they soon walked out the door.
I looked over at a smiling waitress who was continuing to wrap. "You own Jake's?", she asked.  "Yes", I said rather sheepishly.  " I have heard so many good things about it.", she said, "My boyfriend really likes it there.".
I thanked her and we got my order in.  She said that I was right behind a rather large group and I informed her that would be no problem and that I knew well what that feeling was like.  She smiled and said that it was so good to have someone who understood a kitchen.
Her and her fellow employees kept talking back and forth on who had the door.  They would attempt to greet everyone who came through.  I thought it was a good touch....especially since they were just opening.
With my order up, the young lady asked the bartender if she would watch the door.  "No" came the answer.  The bartender then turned to me and said, "He can probably watch it for you.".  I knew she was joking but I said, "I got your back!".
The bartender was busy with a drink and I saw a  young couple walking towards the door.  I jumped up, held open the door and boldly stated, "Welcome to Baldies, where you can 'Taste the Love'."  A couple of shocked faces looked at me and I wondered if I had played up the part to big.  I took them in and introduced them to the bartender.  "She will be happy to take your order.", I explained as I retook my seat.
My order came out and I told the young lady what I had just done. She laughed and said, "You need to tell them about your place now.". "No, this is all about you guys down here", I explained and then turned to the bartender and said, "I told you that I had your back".
As I left, the young couple had changed their minds and we met at the door again.  The young man had a camera that was very similar to one of Judy's so I struck up a conversation with them regarding it. I found out that he was only 15 and that he was taking senior pictures of the girl with him. I encouraged him to strike out after his dream especially if that was his passion.  I told him of one of our employees who I am always encouraging to do what he can to make learn as much as he can to hopefully turn his passion into a business.  I said, "I own a restaurant up the road". "We know!", came the knowing smile.  Now I understood their shock when I greeted them at the door.
I went home and sat at the table eating my bbq sandwich and sharing my experience with Judy.  Then I went upstairs and got on the computer.  I realized that their were probably many friends and relatives that could not get access to the article in the paper and would want to read it so I got on the Bulletin site, downloaded the article, placed it in my blog, and then shared it on facebook.  Minutes after placing it on my page, the remarks came in from friends who were out of town and not able to see the paper.
I rested and watched a show on TV while I waited for the call from the hood guys.  I fell asleep on the couch for a brief time before the call came in around 11PM. I drug myself out to the car, down to the diner, and secured it for the night.
Arriving back home, I crawled into bed to get a few hours rest before starting out all over again.  My mind now at ease over things, I slept well.....a needed deep sleep.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Sunday's Bulletin Article

For all of our friends outside of Bend or not able to see the paper today.  Here is a copy of the article ran in the Sunday paper.
Bend diner owners give back
Lyle and Judy Hicks have created a 'community center' in Jake's Diner
By Heidi Hagemeier / The Bulletin
Published: July 22. 2012 4:00AM PST

  more photos | order photo  Andy Tullis / The Bulletin
Lyle and Judy Hicks, who bought and relocated Jake's Diner about seven years ago, are well-known for caring for their customers and helping the community.
Standing behind the old truck stop counter Monday morning in one of his signature Hawaiian shirts, Lyle Hicks prepared for one of his favorite moments of the week.
Dozens of veterans in patriotic T-shirts and ball caps began streaming into Hicks' restaurant, Jake's Diner on Bend's east side. They joked around, drank bottomless cups of coffee and ate breakfast. Then the mood became serious: After the Pledge of Allegiance and a prayer, the nearly 85 vets faced the American flag on a pole in the center of the diner, stood in military salute and thundered “God bless America!”
“It sends shivers down my spine,” Lyle said. “This, in my mind, is the heart of Jake's.”
Members of the veterans group, called the Bend Band of Brothers, say it never would have grown to its present size of about 750 without the support of Lyle and his wife, Judy. The couple welcomed the group when others didn't. They now block off most of the restaurant for the meeting — it can only include roughly 100 due to fire codes — and provide the food at cost.
Friends say it's typical for the Hickses. From giving to veterans causes to helping the homeless, the couple have made their business into much more than a restaurant; it's a community center, and the people who come through its doors are like family.
“Mr. Lyle and Judy Hicks have done such a good job taking care of the community and doing things for the community,” said Zin Watford, president of the Bend Band of Brothers. “Everybody loves them.”
Other groups have found a home at Jake's. Bible study meetings, the local Ford Model A club, the local ham radio club and others come every week for dinner plate-sized cinnamon rolls, four-egg omelettes and heaps of hospitality.
Throughout the year, the diner's calendar is filled with charitable events. Monday night poker brings in donations for Habitat for Humanity. A Fourth of July barbecue benefits the Vietnam Veterans of America. On Thanksgiving, Jake's prepares a full dinner for seniors.
Less obvious efforts include the winter clothing and gear drive. Jake's Diner brings roughly two boxes a week of supplies to Central Oregon Veterans Outreach, which helps homeless veterans. The Hickses also regularly extend a hand to individuals down on their luck.
“They have a lot of concern and caring for those who are less fortunate,” said Chuck Hemingway, COVO's executive director. “A lot of their efforts are done very quietly with no expectation of recognition or reward.”
The Hickses say this is just how they believe business should be done. Giving back is part of a commitment to their Christian faith and their community.
“They've supported me,” Lyle said, “so I give back.”
Starting at Jake's
Lyle, 59, believed his future lay beyond Central Oregon while growing up in Gilchrist.
He left to join the Navy in 1971 and while stationed in San Diego met Judy, now 58, an Australian making a California stop on a worldwide trip. The first meeting, a blind date, could easily have been their last.
“On the second date he invited me to a concert I wanted to see,” Judy said. “So I went, and I liked him this time.”
Judy continued on her journey, but the two courted through letters for a year. She returned to the U.S. on a visa and the two married. They moved to Australia for three years and had two of their three children there. Then they returned to the U.S. in 1980.
But jobs had dried up in early 1980s California. Uncertain what to do next, Hicks brought his family north to Oregon.
He started classes at Central Oregon Community College and sought any type of job on the side to keep the family afloat. Jake's Diner and Truck Stop in south Bend, which at the time served the highway traffic that rumbled down Third Street, was willing to accommodate his class schedule.
The couple that owned the business, Jake and Virginia Wolfe, quickly learned Lyle was studying accounting and had other skills. They added responsibilities to his plate until he became the diner's manager. He stayed for 23 years.
Then a decade ago, rising fuel prices, the advent of the Parkway diverting traffic from Third Street and other pressures began making Jake's less profitable. In 2004, the family announced it would shut the business down and sell the land.
“We had no idea what we were going to do,” Lyle said. “I thought, 'Man, I'm 50 years old.' ”
Friends urged him to go out on his own. Needing to come up with the money within a matter of weeks, the Hickses put their house and savings behind the effort. Then they had to find a location and move within months.
The only building they could afford, obscured behind a car dealership, had housed a string of failed restaurants.
“I said, 'Why would you want to go there? That's the worst location in town,' ” Lyle recalled. “Everyone gave us six months at most.”
Lyle remembers the transition as a time of anxiety. Friends pitched in to crunch numbers, assist with renovations and move equipment to the new locale. Some contractors refused to be paid, saying they would wait for the business to turn a profit.
The new Jake's opened on an afternoon in April 2005. Lyle and Judy couldn't believe it as the seats filled up.
“At 5:30, that restaurant was full just by word of mouth,” Lyle said. “It stayed strong until the bills got paid. This is a story of redemption; we just were on the ride.”
'A great heart'
As the Hickses sat down for a bite after the lunch rush recently — he tackled a salad, she a couple of small tacos — a waitress stopped by the table.
“There are two new tables here,” she informed them, the cue to at some point stop by to say hi.
Word of mouth remains important at Jake's.
“We're off the beaten path, so if they come by, somebody told them about us,” Lyle said.
If they return a few times, Lyle and Judy will soon greet them by name. The duo have met many of their closest friends at the restaurant.
That's what happened to Wayne “Speedy” Morgan, a Sunriver resident who started dropping by the diner years ago. He is vice president of the High Desert A's, a Ford Model A club.
Club members felt like a nuisance at the establishment where they had been meeting. So Morgan suggested Jake's Diner.
“We found a home there, and it ended up that Lyle would join us for breakfast,” Morgan said. “Soon he bought a Model A pickup and joined our club.”
The friendship extends beyond the diner doors. When Morgan received a hip replacement several years ago, Lyle visited him every day in the hospital.
Longtime friend Frank Patka, who met the Hickses through church in the late 1980s, said Lyle shows empathy to nearly everyone. Lyle will talk with other vets about what they had experienced in wars or share his life through his blog, which he posts on the Jake's Diner website. They range from details of vacations to struggles with his health.
“He does take on the cares of the world,” Patka said. “The good thing is he does something about it. He's a guy who puts action to his concerns.”
Patka also knows the Hickses as people who like to have fun. Judy, although quieter, jokes with patrons.
Lyle, Patka said, is a walking jukebox with a baritone voice. The two used to surprise friends on their anniversaries: They would arrive unannounced and sing something they wrote especially for the couple, Patka playing guitar.
“He's always had a great heart,” Patka said. “I didn't know he had so much to give to the community until he opened his own business.”
Honored as heroes
Since 2005, Jake's has been the scene of family celebrations and funeral services. Photos of stars or musical acts that have passed through line the walls.
A wedding between one of the Band of Brothers and a woman who volunteered to serve them coffee happened not long ago. “They got married right there in front of the coffee pot,” Judy said.
Jake's Diner has been recognized a number of times now by organizations for its community efforts, most recently in March by the Oregon Mountain River Chapter of the American Red Cross at its annual Heroes' Breakfast.
They've been struck by what just a bit of effort can accomplish. For instance, a weekly Hold 'Em for Habitat poker night that requests $5 donations has raised about $35,000 for Habitat for Humanity since 2006.
Their reputation for good deeds is now as much a part of the establishment as the food. Lyle said customers will regularly hand him cash to put toward one of his efforts.
“Where that gets me is that they trust me,” he said.
Not that the restaurant life is always smooth. It has long hours, and the Hickses do hope at some point to retire and potentially turn the diner over to one of their sons who works at the diner. All of their children live in Bend, and Lyle and Judy have one grandchild.
“Every once in awhile on a Sunday, when it's so busy,” Judy said, “I sometimes turn to him and say, 'We should have owned a flower shop.' ”
But the Hickses say that right now, they're supposed to be running Jake's.
“I didn't understand what it was going to end up being,” Lyle said, “but it ended up being so much more than a business.”
— Reporter:  541-617-7828,

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Last Day

July 11, 2012
I awoke to the sound of the announcement of a ferry arriving.  The fresh air and the sounds of many birds reminded me of waking up at home.  I felt at peace.  Then I started thinking about he day....and the boat trip....and being out on the ocean.  I fought the thoughts as they crept into my head and concentrated on what was around me.
Judy and I decided to get up and go grab a bite to eat.  I packed up the car while she got ready.  I ate a banana while I worked as that is always something that seems to mellow my mind.  Anxiety nibbled at my head so I kept myself busy and when I was done, I walked around, taking in all of the sights and checking out the small breakfast area of the motel.
As we walked to breakfast, we noticed a BND on the back of the car owned by the mother who played soccer with her kids the night before.  They were sitting in the breakfast area where we fixed ourselves some food.  After getting mine, I stopped by their table and asked if they were from Bend.  The woman told me that she had bought the car from someone there.
I then engaged the little boy who was so entertaining the night before.  I told him that I really enjoyed watching him play the night before and encouraged him to continue to practice this fun sport.  He seemed thrilled and you could tell that he was a very happy inquisitive young man.
Then it hit me.  Like a few nights back buy a bit less.  I had to get out of the room.....away from people.  I felt like running.  We sat outside on the sunny deck and I nibbled on my food.  I had lost all appetite and was happy that I had already eaten the banana....knowing that it would help.  I nibbled on a pill letting it rest under my tongue knowing that would get it into my bloodstream quicker.
I was glad when Judy agreed to get going and we drove down to a park at the end of the road past the ferry.  There was a loop road in the park and it was so lush and beautiful.  Deer walked unafraid so close that you could almost touch them.
We then drove up to the large hill behind the town where we had heard that there were overlooks for the surrounding areas.  The semi clear morning brought a good glimpse of Mt Baker to the north that did not show itself that often.
While we looked out over the view, my phone rang and I saw it was Zin.  He asked where I was and I told him Washington.  He said that we were going to have to find someone to run the show that day as he was headed to the hospital with low blood pressure.  My concern for my buddy and the task at hand to inform others so that the meeting would not go without some leadership occupied my mind and actually helped me out.  By the time all of the calls were finished, I actually was relaxed and looking forward to the day and the trip.
We arrived at the pier at 10 just as we were instructed the night before and no one was there.  So we sat down and waited as others began to arrive.  We could see the crew busily preparing the boat for the trip.
30 minutes or so later a small crowd had grown around us.  Three men walked up the pier towards us and introduced themselves as the crew.  The captain asked us all where we were from and found that we had an international group, many from Europe and others from the other side of the country.  It almost made me feel like a local.
We then followed the captain down to the boat and Judy and I were the first to board.  We sat at what looked to be a pretty good spot and noticed that most were going past us and out on to the next level.  I left Judy and walked up to the upper deck to find it an open deck with many comfortable seats.  I knew that once we got out on the bay that it would be much colder there so I returned to let Judy know that she had picked the right seats.
As we left the pier, we stepped outside and watched as we cruised by the ferry port and could see where we had stayed the night before.  I then suggested that we might want to eat as the captain began to head out to more open sea.  My suggestion was the right one as before my sandwich was even half eaten, the announcement was made that whales had been sighted.  Judy left what was left of her lunch and grabbed her camera heading outside while I sat and finished mine and watched her position herself up on the bow of the small craft.
We found a couple of whales who seemed to be fishing for their food.  The captain explained that the whales loved the salmon in the area.  We watched as the swift large animals dove down for their catch and then surfaced for air.
The captain then announced that a breaching whale had been sighted closer to the coast line.  He seemed very excited as we watched the large Orca splash not that far off of our bow.  Two other excursion boats joined us as we rode along with the whale that breached over and over.  I could see an excited Judy taking pictures and I got out my camera and did the same.
I took a few pictures and even a video as the captain explained to us that what we were seeing was pretty special and certainly not the norm for their trips.   Knowing that I had some pretty good pics and that Judy would undoubtedly have quite a few, I decided to just enjoy the show.  I stepped through the boat to whatever side the whale was on for the time and got a show that beat anything that I had seen at Sea World in the past.
Over and over the whale breeched.  An excited captain told us that we had no idea what we were experiencing .  He said in his 30 years, he had never seen such a show before.   We had certainly picked he right day.
I got chilled standing outside and was quite happy that I brought my sweatshirt with me.  I donned it and watched from the warmth of the cabin still able to catch the many jumps of the whale.  The captain surmised that she (the whale...her name was Rhapsody) might have an itch or something as their skin was quite sensitive.
After the show, the captain headed us towards a small island where there were sea lions and we spotted a couple of Bald Eagles as they feasted on another small animal.  Judy saw me and came in to check on me fearing that I was struggling .  I told her that I was doing great but had just gotten cold.  "Good", she giggled, "I am not cold....I am having too much fun.".  She headed back out to her perch on the bow and kept on shooting.
The captain then took us to the north part of Lopez island where he knew of a Bald Eagle nest on our way back to the pier.  He again let us know just how special our show had been.  One of the other captains had counted the breeches.  His count was 52 and he said that 42 of them were closest to our boat.
Judy and I shared our pictures as the boat returned to shore and we prepared to disembark.  We had already decided to head out immediately towards Seattle hoping to get past it before the dreaded rush hour.
We arrived at the pier at around 4 and quickly packed our stuff in the car and took off.  I thought we were just a few miles north of Seattle but found that we were indeed around 50.  I dreaded the thought of getting caught in that traffic.  We had a small magazine that had been given us the first night showing a loop route in northern Washington and I remembered that the lower road came from above Seattle.  A quick look at the map confirmed that and we soon came upon the road to Stevens pass and took it heading inland away from the city traffic.
Judy studied the map and suggested that we stay at this small old logging town a bit up the road just before the pass.  That way, we could go over the pass the next morning and see the sights best.  We exited the road at the small town and were disappointed to see no lodging there other than a very old hotel.
I stopped at the gas station on the road and walked inside to get ideas and suggestions.  The owner seemed to be from either India or Pakistan and gave me a very blank look when I asked him of lodging.  Every question seemed to be answered with a shrug.  A couple of bikers overheard, however and informed me that our best bet was to go on over Stevens Pass and stay at Levonworth.  "You have plenty of time to see the sights of the pass and the accomodations there are excellent."
I thanked them and jumped back in the car.  The pass was shrowded but we could tell that it was quite majestic and we wondered how it would look on a clear day.  I had read about the majesty of Deception falls and was surprised when I almost drove right past it.  There were no large highway signs just a small one at the entrance to the parking lot.
We turned around and were certainly not sorry for doing so.  What we found was an incredible and powerful waterfall that cascaded down the mountain and under the road.  A walking bridge took us just over the top and another metal bridge walked us under the road just inches above it's power and strength.  It was like walking right above Benham falls if you could imagine what that might be like.  The power was incredible and we were so close we could reach out and touch it.
We continued on over the pass and into Levonworth.  A surprisingly large and beautiful town that had fashioned itself after something that you might expect in the Swiss Alps.  Many large motels were there to house the guests there and you could see that they had gone all out to attract the tourists.
As we drove past the town, we noticed a small motel that seemed to be off the beaten path and yet overlooking the river.  We drove down to the small villa and walked into the office finding a receptionist dressed for the area in a Sandinavian type gown.  The price was right and we were tired so Judy went to the room while I moved the car.
As she came out to help me unload, I asked her how the room was.  She grumbled, "Ok", and my heart sank.  We should have checked it out first, I thought. "Got ya", she giggled, "It is awesome!".  The room was rather large with a comfortable bed, a big comfortable looking chair and a large table with two soft chairs around it.  A deck was off of the room, overlooking a rushing river below.
I went out and got us dinner ( now loves their lobster sushi) and we sat on the deck and ate as the sun went down.  We then played around with our pictures.  I downloaded my video and a few of my pictures to Facebook and got immediate responses from them.
We pulled back the comforter on the bed to find no top sheet.  The maid must have made a mistake.  So, I walked on down to the office.  The door was locked and a sign there said to call the sister motel giving us the number.
I dialed the number and informed them that I had no top sheet.  "Yes, we know", came the answer, "That is the way they do it in Europe.".  "Well, I am not in Europe.", I countered, "and I really want a top sheet".  I remembered what Judy had always told me of how many germs you can find on the unwashed top quilts.  "No problem", she said, "Just look in your dressor drawer.  We put them there for the ones who don't want the entire European experience."
A quick shower and I slipped under the fresh sheets, exhausted for the day, happy for the trip, and looking forward to getting back to my own bed the next night.


July 11, 2012
My buddy, Frank, tells me that I am a man with many stories. I have always hoped that one day when I am older, my grand kids will sit around me and I can tell them tales of when and where.  For that to happen, you must live an interesting life.....and so far, mine has been just that from time to time.

A couple of weeks back, I fielded a phone call in the middle of the day from a young lady named Maddie.  She asked to reserve a place on a specific Saturday morning for a wedding party.  "I have been bragging about your place for quite a while and I want to bring some special people in to see it on a special day.", she said.  "What kind of people?", I asked.  "Some NFL players.", came the reply.
I asked who and I must admit that after she said Donte Rosario and Jonathan Stewart, I did not hear that rest of the names.  These two famous ex-Duck names had tweaked my interest and in my mind, I was trying to shuffle the floor around on a busy Saturday in the future to accommodate them.  "I will have a place for you.", I promised her.
I already had two groups scheduled that morning and first thought of putting them out on the deck but a check of advanced weather did not look promising.  I checked with one of the groups who meet every Saturday and found that they would be away that week, so the foundation was laid to make this event happen.
That Saturday morning, I called in extra help and blocked off Casey's section for the wedding party.  Knowing that he was going to serve some Duck alumni, Casey proudly wore his Oregon State hat as we readied for the party who was suppose to arrive after 8.  Around 8:30, the girls of the wedding party arrived.  The pretty girls walked across the floor and caught the eyes of most of our male employees and customers.  I stopped and talked with Maddie who told me that the boys would be along shortly.  She said that one of the NFL players had stayed behind but three would be there.  I asked her who was getting married and she beamed as she told me that she was marrying Dante.  She told me that he third NFL player was a man named Jon Beason.
I knew what Dante and Jonathan looked like already being a Duck fan, so I did a search on my computer of Jon only to find a mug shot of him a few years ago after he had punched a guys nose in in Atlanta after a come from behind win.  After that, I expected to meet a huge, tough, and mean player.
In fact, I met a very friendly and engaging young man that was not much taller than me.  Now he did have big arms and abs but he certainly did not come off as being mean.  Jon, Dante, and Jonathan came in with the rest of the boys and all sat at different tables, Dante close to his bride to be, Jonathan with the main group of guys, and Jon with the larger group of girls.
Dante introduced me to the guys in the group and I attempted to grasp for names that I remembered but did get distracted with he introduced me to Brady see, as a Charger fan, we all remember his infamous brother, Ryan who is considered the worst bomb of a number one pick ever.  Other than his brother, most of the guys seemed to be on one of the Duck teams that Dante and Jonathan had been on.  Both Dante and Jonathan had been drafted by the Carolina Panthers and that is where they met Jon who played at the University of Miami.
The three NFL players followed me over to the counter where we took a quick picture.  I then called Trin and her friend, Ashley over for one more quick shot and then ducked into my office as the boys returned to their party.

I quickly printed the two pictures and brought mine over to have them sign.  I then gave two copies of the other picture to the girls and told them that they needed to do the same.  Two embarrassed and begging girls talked me into getting their picture signed for them.  I took the clip board and made the rounds again.  As Jonathan signed the copies, I noticed that his food had already been delivered and that I had just made my first gaff....asking him to sign the copies while he was eating.  I don't think that impressed him and I kicked myself for the error.  I teased Jon about his choice of seats as he was on the table with most of the brides party.  "I do know how to pick my spots!", came the smiling reply.
Attempting to let them enjoy their 'Jake's' experience, I went about my work while they ate and poured some coffee to visit with our other customers on the busy Saturday floor.  I was happy to note that most seemed oblivious to the larger bodies on the other side of the room.
My friend, Sam and his son, Jake walked in and I asked Jake if he would like to meet the guys.  The offer brought a huge grin to his face and I led him over and introduced him to Dante and Jonathan.  They both engaged him and I slipped away to let him have his time.  An excited Jake soon joined me and his father back at the door.  "Dante was my favorite Duck ever!", explained Jake.  "Did you tell him that?", I asked.  "No, I was too nervous.", came the reply.
So, I walked over and told Dante the story.  "Lets take a picture with him", Dante offered.  I looked over to see that the boy and his father had left so we decided to take one of the original pictures and have them autograph them to Jake.  As I had Jonathan sign the last print, I made my second gaff.  Meaning to be funny, I told Jonathan what Casey had said when I told him that he would be serving him. A teasing Casey had said, "I don't want to serve Jonathan as he made me lose my fantasy championship a few years back....he caused me to lose twenty bucks.".  A not so happy NFL player told me what he thought of fantasy football and how it has hurt so many players.  Stating that Casey was only teasing did not seem to soften it that much so....I just let it go.
As many things do go on busy days, the party came and went quickly as the girls left first and the guys made their way out the door, the three NFL players, made it a point to shake my hand and thank me for the time.
I thanked them all for coming in and watched as the group left.  A couple of more pictures for the wall and memories for my future stories for my grandchildren.