Posted in Lore

Celebrating the Giving in Thanksgiving

During my 5k walk benefitting two local food shelves on Thanksgiving morning, I looked up and let the fat snowflakes hit my face.  It was a soft snow with little breeze, and in an instant I felt thankful.

UntitledI was feeling my age upon waking that morning.  The bones creaked and the muscles were rigid.  I poked my head out of bed a few times before I left, testing the layers I’d chosen, finally settling on the long-sleeve cotton shirt we received with our race packets, my food bank hoodie, and a pair of grey sweatpants.  I laced up my old-lady white sneakers, and loaded the shelf-stable groceries in the back of my son’s vehicle.

This year marks our second annual Thanksgiving walk/run for hunger.  Last year the thermometer read a daunting one degree Fahrenheit.  I learned a few things about the 5k/10k races, specifically involving winter weather.  As a runner’s sweat drips down his or her back, stalactites form on the seat of the pants, forming —  for lack of a better term —  butt-cicles.  It’s true.  My son’s facial hair froze into a grampa-white beard and mixed with the evidence of his mile-5 nosebleed.  He was terrifying despite the smile on his face.  Although these are not the reasons I don’t run, they definitely justify my rationale.

Today was about thirty degrees warmer than last year, but the snow lent a sense of adventure.  About 15 minutes after we saw my son off on his 10k run, the rest of us lined up for the 5k.  Once the runners had all passed, the dog-walkers, strollers, and I settled into a brisk, yet slower, pace.  My joints had stiffened standing in the cold, and they ached as I began.  I snapped a few pictures, found some good classic rock on Pandora, and firmly secured my earbuds.

Somewhere in the middle, I looked up into the swirling white, and I felt thankful.  And I thought about that word — Thanksgiving.  Giving thanks.  Certainly I am thankful to the people who organized the race, and to the food shelves who will put the proceeds to good use, and to my body for being able to carry me a whopping three miles on a frosty morn, and to my employer who gives me Thanksgiving off — even thankful to the earth for the crisp air and swirling snow.

UntitledBut there is more to it than thanks.  There’s giving.  In the end it doesn’t matter who or how you thank.  Whether you offer up prayer, or thank the cook, or tip the waitress.  Thanking is polite.  Giving takes more.  Here, as I looked before and behind me, were all these people who took time away from their kitchen, or got up early, or scheduled Thanksgiving dinner just an hour later, so that they could give of themselves.

And after all the participants have gone home, or finished their Bloody Marys (just sayin’), there are people who are cleaning and clearing the route of signage or trash, sorting and storing the collected food, packing the race gear away, and accounting for expenses and proceeds.

So while I’m thankful to all the people who provided a way for me to give last Thursday, I’d like to change my definition of Thanksgiving from a day to give thanks, to a day to be thankful for the opportunity to give.  I don’t give as much or as often as I could.  But while my body is able, to participate in this annual event seems like a perfectly splendid way kick off this season of giving.

Peace . . .

Posted in Room and Board

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Interview

In January I job-shadowed a co-worker in another department.  It was mostly an informational journey, finding out more about what they do in that corner of the organization.  I hadn’t meant to fall in love.  As those who stray are often overheard saying, it just happened.

When the job opening posted, I submitted my résumé, with a carefully crafted cover letter, to the HR department.  Then I waited.

The first two interviews were lined up over three weeks later.  A Friday.  They would be held early, before the workday surrendered to the weekend.  At the time the appointment was set, no one expected a snow storm.

DSCN1158Thursday the flakes fell all day.  By lunch the back roads were risky.  The HR department called.  No one who didn’t have to was coming in the next day, much less early.  My first appointment was rescheduled for the afternoon.  Soon I was messaged by the hiring manager.  Could I reschedule?  Yes, of course . . . doesn’t my résumé say that one of my strengths is flexibility?  Given the choice, I chose Friday afternoon over Monday.  Weekends are meant to relax, not fibrillate.

It was all worked out.  I would dress for the interview in the morning, wearing snow boots and carrying my dress shoes in a bag.  Returning home on my break as usual, I’d eat a light and healthy lunch, freshen up, and arrive back at work looking crisp and eager.

That evening, I gunned it up the drive to keep from lodging halfway.  Bubba met me at the back door.  He had gunned his car too, but his power steering pump whined.  Something gave and he lost the ease of his wheel.  He made it in, but the car was crippled.  He would have to take mine in the morning.

Okay!  So just another change of plans, right?  Deep breath and forge ahead.

Brush (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Friday morning I dressed in my professional best.  My makeup and hair in place, nails groomed, brows plucked, Bubba warmed the car.  A trip home to freshen up midday would be impossible.   It was important I felt confident and unruffled before I left in the morning.

The last thing I did before I went out the back door was to grab my purse in the front room.  Looking out the window, I saw the young woman across the street spinning her wheels.  The plows that cleared the streets overnight left a dense berm of snow at the bottom of each driveway.  My young neighbor made the poor choice to try and run her vehicle over the drift.

Now, it occurred to me that if we backed out just right, we could keep our car in reverse and back down the hill until we found a clear area to turn around.  However, it would require us to drive, albeit backwards, right by her while she was stuck in the snow.

“Shoot!” I exclaimed.  Okay, I didn’t say shoot, but you get the idea.  I was starting to lose my cool.

I watched her tires spin a few more times without any encouragement from the car.  There was nothing to do except the right thing.  I marched past Bubba in my boots, well-coiffed hair, and lipstick.  I trod through the snow to the garage.  Plucking the lightest shovel off the wall, I strutted past the woman now on her phone in the street.  I began to excavate the incapacitated car at a feverish rate.

English: Cleaning up after a snow storm in Bor...

Before long, Bubba and a passing motorist had joined my endeavor.  The car was soon dislodged, many thanks were exchanged and we headed back to our own warm automobile.

Sweaty, wet, rumpled, my meltdown arrived violently.  Deep breaths turned into hyperventilation as I tried to keep tears from rinsing away my mascara.

By the time Bubba dropped me off at work, I had regained some small amount of composure.  The place was a ghost town.  The desks of my two office mates sat empty for the next hour.  The only callers were canceling orders.  The call from HR shouldn’t have surprised me.

Neither interview would take place that day.  A small voice in my head mocked my meltdown from earlier.  Next week would be a better time for interviews.  Surely everything that could go wrong already had.

Peace . . .

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Posted in Service Industry

Here’s a tip for ya . .

I support the opportunity to tip those in service to me.  It gives me a chance to offer immediate feedback.  Whether the server is intelligent enough to take the feedback as an opportunity to improve is always questionable.

There are pros and cons when tips go into one pot that is divided up at the end of the day.  I like the idea that the person who clears my table or makes my drinks will get a portion of a tip I leave at the table.  Unfortunately, a poor server will not make tips that reflect the service the bartender may have given me.  Likewise, customers may tip lower for a meal that did not meet their expectation, and yet was brought to them with exemplary service.

If possible, without asking, I will always know my server’s name.  When I receive extreme service in one direction or another, I think it is important to let his or her manager know what is happening in the establishment.  I recently filled out one of those surveys from the link at the bottom of my receipt.  I was so very impressed by the young lady who waited on our table, I made sure to plug her once or twice in the survey.

This is one of those establishments where the servers sit down at the table with you in hopes of charming their tips right out of your pocket.  This person performed none of that silliness.  She didn’t even smile in abundance.  What she did offer was very professional service, help in navigating the menu, advice on how to order exactly what we wanted, certainty when we requested a substitution (even though she admitted later she hadn’t known how to enter it in the register), and of course, prompt delivery of our appetizer and meal.  I saw her checking on us out of the corner of her eye while waiting on another table, clearly a multi-tasker!  Oh, and did I mention she called me “Miss?”  Okay, okay . . . I’m a sucker for flattery.  But she did it in a way that I think she calls every woman that, not to gain tips, but because she knows it makes us smile.

Now, take the coffee shop.  I really just don’t understand the concept of the tip jar.  Oh, don’t get me wrong.  I LOVE to tip my barista for a job well done.  But why is the tip jar at the beginning of the process?  For what am I tipping . . . the HOPE of great service?  Is it a bribe to make a good drink?

For instance, this “cappuccino” I am drinking right now is not a bad drink for a latte.  But I didn’t order a latte.  I ordered a cappuccino.  I don’t mind lattes, so I didn’t say anything, but I saw right off that she was making a latte and not a cappuccino.  I heard the person behind me ordering his cappuccino, and she asked him if he liked it dry or wet.  As I am writing this, I am wondering if he had a different cashier, because I wasn’t asked if I liked mine dry or wet.  It wouldn’t matter.  Lattes don’t come in dry or wet.  They are not cappuccinos.

And so I didn’t circle back to place a tip in the jar, like I am often seen doing.  Does the barista think me a bad tipper?  She might if the jar was at the end of the line, so she could get immediate feedback, but as I said, the jar is at the beginning.  Is it possible they have a signal to make a bad drink for a non-tipper?  Yes, of course it is.  Life isn’t easy as a non-confrontational, passive-aggressive customer.  Too bad there isn’t a link to a survey at the bottom of my receipt.

Not a cappuccino.