it’s a foggy saturday morning. i was so excited with the prospect of “sleeping in” haha….. i’ve been getting up around 6:30 each morning since the school year started and saturday is no different. it usually takes me about a week or two over the summer to get to where i can sleep in until 7:30. but the good news is i was in bed early and so i enjoyed a long night’s sleep. we’re in the beginning of a long project here at home and so i like to get out there and get involved. i’ve been shoveling, moving spigots (light plumbing), moving stones, installing some railroad ties for erosion control, setting brick paths back that were disturbed, and basically getting my hands and knees dirty. fun work but yesterday my lower back started hurting pretty bad. it was those dang railroad ties that did it i think, maybe some digging, but oh, was i in pain around 10pm. i even had to leave work early because of the pain. this morning the pain has gone away some but i’ll definitely have to scale back my ambitions for the next few days. there’s a huge pile of rubble, mostly large chunks of an old slab, that i wanted to move to a new location and i’m not sure that would be wise.
the challenge of not eating a couple days a week is severe. i’m not a guy used to depression and taking a day off eating just sends me right to a depressed state. i’ve been trying this 5/2 “diet” for a couple months now and i really love it on the days when i eat normally. pizza, brownies, beer…. the usual stuff. but then a day of no food and i just get so down. i lost about 7 pounds it seems but it’s really hard to decide if it’s worth it. my wife wants me to just eat better regularly of course, and lose weight that way. i’ve never really been unhappy with my body or weight and so that makes it super hard to get motivated to avoid sweets and eat less than what i’m used to every day, or start calorie counting….i am much more suited to just taking a couple days of fasting and i’m sure i could enjoy being lighter and more agile, likely with better heart healthy numbers for the doc too. i guess in the end it will be my kids which are my inspiration for getting to a more healthy weight. i’m still unclear though, whether i’ll be able to keep up the diet FOREVER! see, it’s not a diet really but a lifestyle. if i stop doing it i would go back to gaining weight. when i think about the rest of my life and the TWO days a week of fasting, i find it impossible, but if i take it one day at a time, well, then i think about today– which is a day i can eat normally. so, i continue to take these things one day at a time and profusely apologize for talking about such personal and mind boring topics as my weight. it’s embarrassing really. honest to goodness i am a private person. i use facebook as a place to post things work related for the most part, and only occasionally do i get caught up in some moment that i feel the need to share it with my facebook friends on my personal page. recently i was so proud of my son for getting certified in power point, and so happy that he was in a middle school that does this sort of teaching, that i posted about that. but to think i would ever go online and talk about my diet, my aches and pains, my sleep habits…. please just kill me now. i think it happens because i like writing. i like sitting down to unload my thoughts and my feelings as an artist, and talking about the stupid shit is a way to get the wheels turning, get the machine warmed up. i hate writing for its literalness. i hate that my vocabulary is so limited and my topics so inane. at least in painting the abstraction obscures the result. but i just enjoy the writing. i enjoy the attempt to create something from nothing. i don’t write for other people but for my own sanity. with so many hours in the day, writing is an outlet that is always available and easy. like now for instance, the whole family is still asleep, the house is quiet. surfing the net is about as inspirational as watching tv. reading a book would be good but it’s just not something i find fun. i usually get super sleepy trying to read. writing flows pretty easily and wakes up my mind. i do have some drawing i want to do though, design a shirt for next months pinewood derby my friend puts on. and i should draw a new coffee mug too. there’s always something to draw.
so after boring you with talk of weight, back pain, and sleep, i will tell you the exciting news at work. the toy train track that is suspended above the gift shop is still a work in progress. we’ve had a customer, bob, coming out to try and get it working right and he’s spent 3 weeks there i think? cleaning, leveling, fixing things…. and we are getting closer to having it run. the train has fallen off the track more times than we can count and that just can’t happen while we are open for business. i don’t know why i had this silly idea to try and run a train over people’s heads and i was never into that sort of thing as a kid…. but bob has been ever so patient and our own maintenance guy pete has been helping and well, it’s just so much harder than i ever would have suspected. sometimes i wonder if it will ever actually work or if it will be one of the few ideas i was not able to materialize. like, i’d really love to mount a glass bottom boat 12 feet above the bocce court and have a suspended walkway between the treehouse, glass bottom boat, and airplane but i am too scared to try it. as much as i think i could do it successfully and safely, i also think i would stress myself out for a long time and potentially have the city codes on my case. no, i have some ideas that just need to stay as ideas. but the train is one i think we can pull off.
i’m moving on to one of my other past times now. i’ll start with eating some breakfast, and move on to drawing that t-shirt, and maybe even get into the studio and work on stained glass. if i’m lucky i can get in a few hours of projects here at home before going in for an 8 hour shift at the pizza factory.
i think last time i left i was going to tell you about the catering tip thing. so, we have a custom POS that we use to take orders and such. we made it work just for us – across the board; from the gift shop sales to catering to at the table phone ordering. the catering was getting tricky because we included a 10% gratuity for the crew plus delivery fee. well, we don’t tax or tip on delivery amount and so as we started backing all these numbers out of the total it got confusing from the programming perspective. we had all sorts of complicated equations that did not always work. we were working on fixing these bugs and then i realized how much easier it would be to make the catering prices lower and just add delivery if it was to be delivered, and add gratuity. about the same time the catering boss starting using google forms to compile all the info we need for a successful catering. a customer would say, “we need catering for 50″ and we’d say “when” and they would say “friday” and we’d say “what time?” and these emails might go back and forth 20 times. we might ask a question they would forget to answer. anyway, the form became a great tool because we could send them the form and we would get all the info at once. time, date, how many, dietary restrictions, do they need paper plates, etc…. and then i realized, “hey, let’s let the customer pick the gratuity.” we require 10% on these because it stresses the kitchen and in house food as we prepare and the tip helps compensate the extra work. at times we are catering for 50 or 100 people! but with the forms we were able to let the customer pick the gratuity amount. 10, 12, 14, 16, 18 20%: and guess what? given the choice, most give more! the average is 16 but some give 20%! this is so awesome. we were able to secure more money for or crew just by asking. and the crazy part is that the customer picks the amount before we have even delivered the service. now, here’s the even crazier part…. in the years we have been catering, it seems every customer has been super happy. there’s a small criticism here and there, but the overwhelming response is people LOVE the catering… we have so many repeat customers it’s silly. the only complaints i can remember are there was not enough broccoli on the pie and there was too much salad….. almost every ‘after catering’ response we get is glowing. so, this is exciting news. we constantly make catering more efficient, we give better service, and now we are getting bigger tips for the employees. also there was only once, way back in the beginning, when we were late, and that was my fault. i had taken the order and forgotten about it, so when they showed up i was devastated. i sent them out and said i would deliver and by the time i arrived the food was still on time and they got an incredible deal. so, needless to say, i am proud of our catering and our crew and our efficiency. while we serve hundreds of pies each day, we do it efficiently and with few mistakes.
[after writing this blog i heard this npr story ]
which brings me to the haters. ha. there will always be haters of course. it’s a fact of life. the bigger and more popular we become the more the haters gonna hate. there’s one facebook person that likes to comment satchel’s hate whenever possible. they wrote something on a reggae shack post and omar removed it. they then commented about that. then the same person wrote something on an online food reviewer post. this is just one recent example but there are so many out there to find. it’s one of those things that is a fact that comes with popularity but it still makes me a bit sad. sad that as hard as i try i cannot please everyone. sad that this anonymous person is so mad at us and we are trying so hard to please our customers, to make a nice dining experience, to take care of our employees. i know that what i’ve created is special but i am sad that there will be folks who still hate us. they hate us because other people love us so much. do they hate us because they hate our pizza so much? i don’t know. seems far fetched. not far fetched that someone would not like our pizza, but that their dislike of it would lead them to online ranting and hatred. i just don’t get these folks. don’t know that i ever will.
it’s funny but i would really love to live without my phone. i am on my phone a lot. i answer emails immediately so they don’t pile up. i talk on the phone a lot. i post on the various social pages and check back on the progress and comments. a few years ago i was still trying to hold back from getting a smart phone and even waited a long time to join facebook and twitter, or at least i felt like i waited a long time. i don’t want to be on my phone but it’s now become a habit. i check it too much. maybe there’s an app that can help me, ha. maybe i can track how much i am on my phone and consciously try to power down. it says a lot that i need an app to track my phone usage. just more time on the phone. i’m already an anxious person and the phone heightens my anxiety. it’s a habit i would love to learn to change. maybe i could figure out a clever way to dial it down? remove myself from the online conversation… go back to the quiet, peaceful, and hermit like existence that i lived before i opened a restaurant. would we be so much slower if i stopped posting on facebook and twitter and instagram? if we were would it matter? there is part of me that enjoys the social aspect, i mean, that’s why i have a restaurant. i like making pies and art and chatting with folks. but the online presence is different. maybe i’m just bummed because of the haters out there? it is so nice to be a guy no one knows. nice to be so insignificant that there are no haters. nice to just lean on the comfort of family and close friends. when i see the online haters, and usually it’s by accident because i stopped looking at reviews, when i see their hatred oozing like swamp mud from between my toes, it makes my heart hurt. it makes me depressed. it makes me mad and upset and confused. it’s the artists in me that gets so emotional. i just want to retreat to my own quiet corner and disappear for a while. try and shake the hate.
that’s the main thing. i am not some chef who started a restaurant. i am an artist who started a pizza joint. i probably should have been a graphic designer or advertiser as making logos and designing a brand are some of my favorite things to do. i never cook at home. sure, i bake cookies and cakes and stuff but i don’t cook. i just got lucky because i learned the pizza trade from working in a few places. i learned what worked and what didn’t. then i took my knowledge to make pizza but i used my artistic talents to make the restaurant grow. i put my heart and soul into the atmosphere. i will never try and pretend i am some great chef. i’m just a guy who got lucky with the right place at the right time and some artistic and management skills to make it work. the folks who hate us, they just don’t know us. they hate based on a perception that is flawed. i honestly do not want to spend my time worrying about the haters but i don’t want to check my email every half hour either. there are things that are just in my nature as an artist, and things in my nature as an obsessive person. i will get past it. but i will always sorta wish i could go through my life without being exposed to the haters. and the internet is where they live mostly. so, if i was able to avoid the internet, i could likely be a lot more productive and even more positive. these are the goals i am hoping to achieve: more positive production. my battery is about dead. out.
everybody around me seems to be doing the same thing as me…. working really hard to stay focused and power through being slammed. all the while in a good mood with friendly banter. there is something like magic about that sort of kitchen groove, front of house too, lightnin’ salvage and also the thing as a whole… i am not making pizzas better than the next guy. i may love it more (and i may not?) but he’s trying just as hard as he or she can try too. i see that so clearly now. i started thinking maybe i had misunderstood my interpretation of my work environment. like i made my pizza with more focus or something and so my pizza was the best. that’s silly. we all make good, better, and the best pizza ever—-all the time. actually, the guys at satchel’s get to make those pies more than me. there are plenty of others that enjoy it as much as i do, and i get to work with them and watch them get better. and tonight i realized that most of these kitchen folks i work with are just as dedicated, just as passionate, and just as eager as i am to be the best at what they do. that is an exciting revelation. ah, and honestly, some are better than me. i am not the best at ovens or salad station. my employees are more practiced than me these days. i cannot be the best at everything. i am not the best at serving either.
i am curious if i could figure out how to post photos again here. it’s been so long and the program changes so often and i don’t want to spend the next 30 minutes…- d’oh, but that means i have to switch to the macbook. but i will try…
so here is another reason i stopped posting pictures. easy to see it here. no matter what i do on my document screen where i write this, whether i put the text way down, or space out the text, or space out the images…. no matter how i try to change all that, it always crams my text over here so i’m not able to talk about each picture separately. obviously it’s that i don’t know how to work the platform, wordpress.org, but i’ve spent so many wasted hours trying to learn how to reformat the pictures to no avail.
the first one is P3. that’s just what we call the station. since it’s looks through to the P1 and P2 positions, you can see through to the ovens.
the second one is dish of course. we invented a system of plastic rods that separate the cutting boards so they can dry properly. was it the day manager that came up with the idea? it’s been so long i forgot. anyway, i worked so many nights at a dish pit like this and this photo has a lot of meaning for me.
and the ovens. the left two we’ve had since we opened and the right two we got after the fire. work horses. they bake up some pies and zones.
anyway, i worked late. i was the last one there and so i did a walk through of the kitchen. it’s so good to check up on the cleanliness because they do such a good job. they do it every night and every night it looks so good. i couldn’t help but take a few pictures.
prep and bake area. this is just one of three similar stack of dough trays waiting to be filled on tuesday.
if i fill in some text here it might push the description of the next picture down a bit….
the museum. john really has an eye for these details.
and i have to fill in more text here because i have a description of the last picture that is further down. i have to keep saving and checking back to the preview to see how much i have to write here. by now you must think i’m computer illiterate. i dare you to start a wordpress.org blog, not wordpress.COM< that's different, no .ORG. even i do not know what this means... but after checking i see i need ten more words here.
the junk museum sign. john just cleaned it up some yesterday. quite enchanting thing to stumble upon at night.
there was a huge rush before the gator basketball game this afternoon. there was a huger rush after the basketball game. then there was the hugest rush at closing time when we had a late night party come. hugest mostly because they were all at once, and tons of awesome kids, and we were all so tired from our long week. lots of people work doubles on saturdays. it’s sort of fun in a weird way. most of the people really like the all day adrenaline rush and the feeling of kicking ass and taking names through it all. the machine is well oiled and when it’s good it’s oh so good.
so many faces. smiles. eyes. conversations. i met calvin. #33 on the chicago bears and was in the super bowl in 1985. i got at least 3 hugs i can remember, maybe more. and i’m not a hugger! do i even mention today’s mistakes? do i now spoil the mood and tell you the couple times that a guitar string broke or the sound system belched? (metaphors for the real problems) no. not this time. i am seriously thinking about turning over a new leaf where i just focus on the positive and try to quickly forget about the hiccups. it’s getting too focused on those details that make it work and also make it hurt.
i could write all night. but i know that is not a good idea. i’m sure i’ve already said something stupid i will regret and writing all night would magnify that. but i will say this last thing. funny how i forgot that it’s not the posting of the photos that is so hard to do, but it’s the fact that i have to do them on a cursor glitchy lemon computer that is why i gave up that habit. and also the way the blog site crams my words up beside the photos… should i just resize the photos? but how would i even know what size? and shouldn’t the program size them right automatically? how is it that i can run a restaurant successfully but i cannot decipher the wordpress.org situation?
ah, but i can. i can kill 2 birds with one stone. i can stop posting pictures and write on a non-lemon computer at the same time. BAM! thank you chrome book. photos are for facebook.
i don’t want to kill birds though. i like birds.
i wrote a long post the other day but it’s sitting as a draft. i’m really excited about this new app idea i have (which is not related to the food industry) and i spilled all the details in that blog. then i thought,”maybe i will find a way to make this idea happen and i should keep quiet about it a bit longer…” and then my sister called me and told me that she had a friend she thought could write the app. so, now we are in discussions to make this a reality and while it will be a long hard road like all new businesses, i am glad that i did not tell you the idea just yet. not that anyone reading this would jump up and steal my idea but just that why not keep my great idea quiet until i have something to show? it’s an idea i think is really good and really good ideas don’t happen every day so better to keep it a secret for now.
i think i mentioned the crazy diet i am doing where i “fast” 2 days a week, except i get to eat 600 calories those days and so it’s not really fasting. and the days are separated in the week. anyway, it’s very hard to do. if i knew it would work i think it would be easier but i struggle and wonder if it will really work. why would i struggle through these 2 days each week of i actually don’t lose weight? well, today i had a breakthrough. when i weighed in mid january i was 257. obese. when i weighed today i was 248. still obese but the first time in a looong time i have broken into the 240′s. it made me feel like it was working. i would have to get to 235 to get out of the obese category and into the overweight category and so for now that’s my goal. i can’t be sure i will make it because i struggle so much through these days without eating much but i really love the diet on days like today when i eat normally. i eat pizza, cookies, drink beer, whatever i usually do. that’s what i love about this diet. i get 5 days of super normal eating. anyway, i should not be telling you about any of this at all but i am sharing this success because well… i guess it’s my struggle to fight obesity and i still find so much weight in that word (no pun intended actually.) when people see me they would not think obese. i’m not skinny but i don’t seem obese either. obese people are those huge people right? no. this is the surprising thing to me. i look around and knowing i am obese by 20 pounds i can see obese folks everywhere! i’m still a little in shock by the chart and think it may be time for the powers that be to tweak it for our modern day lifestyle, but if we go by the charts out there then so many people are obese it’s insane! i think my complete disbelief of the chart and trying to come to terms with my own obesity is why i talk about it here. it’s a topic i find fascinating. i am actually okay with my body and my weight but i do feel like losing weight would feel better and help me live to see more of my kids lives. and i am also trying to think about my weight as unhealthy, something that i haven’t been able to agree with until recently. even now i am only slightly convinced that i am unhealthy. i feel really healthy and i NEVER get sick. i can’t remember the last time i got sick. years and years ago. most of the time i feel really good.
tonight i made pizzas because someone called in sick and we didn’t have anyone who could cover that wouldn’t be on expensive overtime. (that’s overtime where one guy would make over $25 an hour plus tip….) we obviously need to hire someone if one person sick can cause this situation, but the thing is, i LOVE making pizzas. i get in the kitchen and make pies every week when we get slammed but i might only be in there making food for 45 minutes a night during the busiest times and working the whole shift at a station is different. it;s way more fun for me. i love to think about each pie and how to top it just right. i really get way into it and am quite fast, probably the fastest of anyone there. so, i enjoy making pies twice as fast as others and i enjoy them being so perfect. i enjoy thinking about the people who will enjoy the pie and i just like the whole thing. anyway, i got a break and went to a table to see how it was, since i knew i had made their pie, and they said it was the best pie they ever had at satchel’s. that’s the thing. i knew how good it would be. i made it. it was done just right. somehow, the love and care i put into it comes across. that’s what made us so busy from the beginning. in a way i feel a little sad because i know it’s nearly impossible to teach folks to truly love and enjoy each and every pizza they make, but i try. and the pizzas they make look good for sure. but why is it then that the pie i made tonight is the best one they ever had? they eat there twice a week? there is a small edge to making each pie with complete concentration and love. saucing and cheesing it to perfection. there is something in it that cannot be taught. i talk about it all the time. i try and convey to the employees the idea of taking pride in everything they do. but i wonder how much falls on deaf ears? i wonder if i am able to teach folks to love what they do? i can teach them the skills to make good pies, to serve tables properly, to dress salads correctly, but teaching them to enjoy their work, to breathe deeply, to consider the people we serve as we serve them…. these things are more esoteric, abstract, difficult to teach.
i’ve been quite anxious lately. i can’t sleep much. i sleep 4-6 hours a night and
usually less than 6. i want to sleep 10. 8 would be great. i’d give anything to sleep and sleep but i just can’t do it. today i tried to nap for a bit because i was in bed after 1am and up about 5. i laid down and felt like i would never sleep but soon drifted off. then BAM! i woke up with a start, maybe 5 minutes after falling asleep. i woke up thinking i was late for something, missing something. but i was not. i had nowhere to be. i had no tight schedule. but i woke up like i had forgotten to catch a flight or pick up my kid from school or something. it was weird. my heart was racing then and there was no sleep to be found. the anxiety may just be the many things i am eager to do. i have paintings to create, a stained glass window on my table to finish, a mobile i want to make, a mural i am nearly done with, another mosaic i want to start, an app in development, a coffee mug to draw, some new t-shirts to get to the printer, a train at LSE very close to being operational, and all the normal work stuff like the lists and website and bumper stickers and caterings and employee schedules and dough proofing…. my mind races a lot. i have so much i want to get accomplished.
i keep thinking about the SEC bake off too. what pizza will i make? some days i think i have to make a deep dish. but that requires preparing the deep dish dough in the pans at the hotel and then transporting them to bake off. they need 4-6 hours of sitting out. sometimes i think i’ll just make a cheese pizza. so simple and our dough and sauce are good enough to win alone. i have such a full calendar too. i have several speaking engagements coming up. my family will go to the beach for spring break but we are so busy that week at satchel’s i wonder how i will ever get away? we are enjoying a growth spurt right now and this requires me to be at work more, monitoring it all. my kids are growing so fast and asking so many questions. i’ve even had to have some birds and bees talk with my boy since he’s 12 now. these are exciting times. and we are having work done on our house. we are adding on and every day new things are happening. by next week we’ll have the second story floor on. plus the weather is getting so springtime like. that alone makes me giddy. AND i don’t have allergies so far this year. i believe it has to do with my alternative allergy therapy i am on but no time for that discussion now. the point is that there is never a dull moment. there are hard moments when i am not eating, or when work is especially taxing on my brain…. but they are not dull moments. it is full time action packed life going on. quite wonderful really. intense and wonderful.
i had something i wanted to expound on but now i can’t remember what it was…. i remember earlier today thinking of a topic that would be so fun to write about and now i am drawing a blank. hmmm.
well, it’s already saturday and my GM is out of town and my baker is sick which means i’ll be getting my mom to bake and working lunch and dinner and all of that is happening in less than 12 hours now. its 12;15am, so no time for me to remember the thing i wanted to write about AND write about it. i’ll give you a break too. it must be a little like torture reading my rambling posts…. when will he ever shut up? why is he always talking about the things he doesn’t have time to talk about? remember, always remember this: you are here of your own free will. nobody makes you follow this nonsense. but i can’t wait to tell you about my new app. you will want to get it.
oh! ha. i remember now! it’s the catering gratuity! that’s the thing i wanted to tell you dear beleaguered blog reader… i want to tell you about a success i had, an idea that worked out for the employees. about the generosity of folks when you give them the opportunity to be generous. oh, it’s good. i hope i remember to tell you this story soon.
i left my chrome book at work so i am forced to type this on my lame lemon of a mac book. this will likely make my writing shorter though, so there is the silver lining for readers.
finally made it to reggae shack today. weird that it took me that long. i remember going when they very first opened and seeing the menu of oxtail, goat, and jerk chicken, and then not getting anything because – i don’t know why, those aren’t things i usually eat i guess. when i was a kid i was one of those kids that ate hardly anything. thanksgiving dinner i would put some white meat and rolls on my plate and that was it. maybe some rice. i would eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. but i was never a good eater. now, as an adult, i have gotten only slightly better. i finally added onions and green peppers to my pizza in the last few years and loved it but i never had a salad until i was 33, and there’s lots of foods i have never tried. i still don’t eat seafood. just never liked it. anyway, i remember that day at the reggae shack but it’s just so strange i never went back. i definitely get stuck in my routine and eat at the same spots. i hit hogans once a week, davids bar-b-q is down the street so i go there once a week. my wife and i go to stubbies a lot, or maybe dragonfly or outback. and i get to gyro plus when i can, and caribbean spice. i’ve been going to those last two places for as long as i can remember. i was going to caribbean spice when the special was less than $2. and gyro plus when they were on south 13th. i do like to try as many restaurants as i can and i’ve been to emiliano’s, harry’s, vello’s. i’ve been to blue gill, mildred’s, marks. i’ve been to mi apa, bistro 1245, bistro to go, and adam’s ribs. i’ve been to almost every restaurant once but somehow i just missed the reggae shack. heck, i’ve been to southern charm at least a half dozen times. i asked omar today how long the reggae shack has been there and it’s been ten years! anyway, today i had a nice lunch there. i got the caribbean chicken and it was very tasty. the place was well staffed and packed. i’ll be going back again but still not sure if i am ready for oxtail or goat. i don’t even eat chicken very often to be honest. my palate is still similar to what it was when i was a kid. i am still slow to try new things.
going back to the podcast thing for a minute, i should say that while i like the ones with stories, like the moth, or this american life, or snap judgement… while i like those a lot, i think the reason the slate one is my favorite right now is the people. since it’s the same 3 people talking each week i feel like i get to know them. some of the time they talk about really boring stuff or something i am not interested in, and sometimes they even just get frustrating because WHO CARES about the political predictions game? but what i do like is their personalities and interactions. emily bazelon often talks about some court case or legal issue and i find her so smart. they are all 3 incredibly articulate. john dickerson amazes me at how he can spew out a monologue and be so good at expressing himself. anyway, it’s them i like more than the subject matter. i enjoy following politics, but i mostly like hearing them banter.
freakonomics is always quite good too. they actually have a movie on netflix which i found really good. those guys are really smart too. i have a thing for smart people. i like to hear what they say and think. i feel like i get smarter when i listen to smart people.
it was a long day. i went in to work at 7:30am. i returned some tomatoes that weren’t ripe enough. i rolled dough. i talked about donations. i painted some on a mural out back. i ordered some new forks and knives. i researched a machine for rounding dough balls, called a rounder, although i think it should be called a baller.
i picked up my daughter and then was home for a bit and then back meeting with some guys making a video about the gainesville restaurant scene, making sure the dough is proofing right, talking to customers, making pizzas, ordering some new pizza pans online (which i should have ordered earlier when i ordered the silverware…)
because i woke up at 5am, and was at work at 7:30, and because i got home after 9pm, it just seemed like a looong drawn out day. i don’t know. my eyes are tired.
i gotta get some good rest for the long weekend ahead. i was gonna talk some about this pizza competition i am going to in mississippi in april but i’m not gonna do it. i’ll wait till i have my good computer. apple sold me a lemon and won’t make it right. i wonder if i will get over it? i may just trade in my iphone for a google phone soon. for a guy who doesn’t hold grudges and tries to put the past behind me quickly, i am still pretty frustrated with apple these days. if they make a faulty product they should make good. but after sending it back 5 times i gave up, and now they say it’s too late. whatever. i won’t be buying another apple product if i can help it. go google. but seriously, why can’t gmail make their contact list better? i still haven’t figured out how to add a contact on my phone in gmail. and the contacts i tried to import did not import properly. i’m in limbo here. mad at apple and still waiting for google to improve. and i am definitely not ready to take on windows 8. what i’d really like to do is to get rid of every electronic device i own and live like it’s 1985. i’d keep the land line.
anyone who knows me knows how much i love podcasts… even to the point of it being annoying. by that i mean, from the looks people have on their faces when i bring it up all the time, it seems like i am saying how i can’t get enough fiber in my diet or something. it’s like the enjoyment i am trying to express from my podcast obsession never seems to translate into a language anyone understands. well, 99% of the people anyway (podcasting reference there in case you missed it.)
so, while i could easily get into TMI about each podcast and why they are great, so-so, weird, or whatever, i’ll just say that my podcast list just got a lot longer and i am about to find myself with more incredible storytelling to listen to than the week will afford me. which is a good thing. it wasn’t that long ago i was running through my list each week and waiting for new stuff to come out, even listening to the not-so-smart “smart station” that was suggested to me by the app. but now i think i have rounded the corner to a place where there is just a wealth of good material there to listen to and no need to ever have to watch a bad netflix movie or be bored mowing the grass again.
so, i use an app called stitcher. for those not familiar – this paragraph is for you: you search for the podcast you want to subscribe to, you hit the plus sign at the bottom, and this adds the podcast to your “radio station,” or “favorites.”
by using the edit function i can move the podcasts up or down in the list so i can hear my favorite ones first and the ones that are sorta dry and semi-boring at the bottom of the list. in this way, i can always hear my newest and potentially “best” podcasts first and only get down to the so-so ones if i run out of the top shelf material. each time i go to the station i can start where i left off, or start over at the top, or anywhere i want to… and after each story is over it automatically starts the next one. every day, or every time i am ready, i can refresh all the content and get the newest stories. sometimes i miss really good material because i never got to a podcast episode and when i refresh, the newer episode comes for listening, leaving the old one behind somewhere hard to find… this is the only downside to the app. you see, before the app, back in the old days of early 2011, or 2010, i spent lots of time downloading the episodes into my itunes and deleting old episodes when i was done. by managing the episodes this way, i was able to easily see how many episodes i had not heard on a certain podcast and “catch up” with any certain podcast i had not had time to hear the previous week. (i realize this is getting confusing for you but bear with me anyway…) well, with the app the old episodes are all still there to hear anyway, but because there are now so many new ones every week, i often “miss” an episode of planet money or radiolab, where i once would have never missed an episode. but that’s ok, because like i said, there is a huge wealth of great stuff out there now.
which brings me to roman mars. that is a man’s name and he has a podcast that is pretty good. it’s called 99% invisible and it;s short and sweet and can be charming and interesting. however, the podcaster (also the host of the show) is named roman mars, and his voice can be one that you just fall out in love with, or one that sorta bugs you in a smug sounding way. he seems like a genuine good guy but also a sort of metro-sexual kind of dude. the kind of guy that wouldn;t hurt a fly, takes out the garbage on time, and gets super excited to go out to his garage and record his voice. sound familiar? (a bit of self deprecating humor there: replace “go out to the garage and record his voice” with “sit down at his chromebook and tell you all sorts of useless information.)
anyway, roman mars has a huge following like the reggae shack, but more on that later. roman goes to raise money for his podcasts and he gets like a million dollars in 5 minutes. actually, i am exaggerating, but i ‘think’ he did get over $350,000 which is incredible. i am happy for him. i think it’s great that a guy can do a little story thing each week and make a living and have some fame and all that; think ira glass of “this american life”, it’s like being the movie star of the podcasting world. but i digress.
so roman makes so much money he decides to start a new thing called “radiotopia” and that is, as far as i can tell without a lot of research, a fund to help small podcasts like his own, reach a larger audience. recently, being the podcast geek i am, i subscribed to most of these new radiotopia podcasts and just in the last few days have been listening to them while driving. wow. it’s been so refreshing to hear new perspectives and new stories and new ideas. i am really loving how rounded out my list is getting. thanks most recently to roman mars.
and that brings me to my list. i am excited enough about these podcasts to list for you here my station on stitcher. the ones at the top of the list are new and i have only heard one episode of many of them so i can;t vouch for there consistency of storytelling. but then i hit the npr news ones, and after that it switches to my regular list. i usually put new ones on top until i decide where they go in the list. this can take a month or so. then i slide them in place somewhere, before or after my top favorites, and in this way my station is always set up just how i like it. i want to point out that sometimes i put one podcast higher than another, not because i like it more, but because of it’s length or frequency. in other words, planet money may be higher than slate, not because i like it better, but because i get 2 or 3 planet money podcasts a week and in order to keep up i listen to it first. this is also true of the npr news stories. they work themselves to the top because they change every day and tend to be short. so i can knock them off and get a good chunk of news in, and then settle in for some appetizers before getting to the main course.
now that i have completely lost you, here is my list right now, subject to change very soon:
radio diaries podcast
benjamen walkers theory of everything
npr 7am news summary
npr topics: story of the day
npr topics: business story of the day
life of the law
this american life
npr: planet money
slate’s political gabfest (my current favorite for last year or so)
the moth podcast
radiolab from WNYC
npr: snap judgement
ted talks audio
pro publica podcast
frontline: audiocast/ PBS
motley fool money
npr: most emailed stories
npr topics: economy podcast
whew. that’s a lot of stuff. after snap judgement it can get sorta boring, except for most emailed stories which i should probably move up, but i also really enjoy a good frontline investigation or the interviews on motley fool money. i don;t buy and trade stocks and that’s what motley fool talks a lot about, but the team of guys who host the show are really funny and do a good job. they talk a lot about brands and what’s hot and not hot in the world of corporations, and i find it pretty informative. the interviews with authors or CEO’s of big companies can be really inspirational and helpful for me as a guy with a company to “brand.”
with corporations, as with politics, brand and image is HUGE.
i could talk a lot more about motley fool and even more about every podcast on this list, but that would REALLY bore you. but instead of reading books, i listen to podcasts. stitcher has stats. that’s how i know i started listening on stitcher in march of 2011. as i mentioned i was listening to podcasts way before that. but since 2011 stitcher tells me i have logged 635 hours, 34 minutes, and 3772 episodes. they may be a lot more than some and a lot less than others, i don;t know where i fall, but those are my stats, i don;t know the stats for all of stitcher. it would be interesting to find out if i am in the top 10% or the top 50%… i wonder where to get that info??
there was a time before all this podcasting that i would listen to rush limbaugh because he talked about current events and he was entertaining even if quite often annoying. thank GOD those days are long behind me. rush is a master of talking and i know a thing or two about talking. my family could talk circles around rush limbaugh. the craft of being able to talk 3 hours a day is quite noteworthy and well, newsworthy. that art and skill and craft is what has carried that poor fellow. but now that the floodgates of storytelling and talking has burst in the form of the podcast, & there is simply NO GOOD REASON to listen to that conservative talk radio blather unless one is simply a conservative tool and brainwashed robot. don’t get me wrong, rush can make a good point half the time, but it’s the other HALF THE TIME he makes an idiot of himself that is ridiculous. why waste my time on one poor son of a bitch who can talk the chrome off a trailer hitch, when i can listen to hundreds of wonderful stories about real people and amazing situations and open my world like a lotus flower?
for me it’s that simple. i love my music. i spent my young life collecting music i love. while friends might by drawn to pandora or similar music selection type engines, i am completely content hitting shuffle on my own 60 gigabytes of music. i spent a couple decades collecting and listening to those tunes. and music is so important for atmosphere at the restaurant and needs to be the right songs at the right volume all the time…. it’s imperative. and it’s always evolving with help form danny now and his selection process. and while at work i am always hearing my music in the background and in my subconscious…. but now as i get older i am much more interested in the new stories, the incredible history lessons, and the political discourse of the always evolving world of podcasts. i feel as if i am always learning something new and thinking of something in a way i hadn;t thought of before. strangely enough, these voices of the podcasts become my everyday friends and counselors, they shape my opinions and directions. they instruct, unveil and elaborate. they shine light on. they uncover. they illuminate. these things, these words i just used to explain what the podcasts do for me, they flew onto the page. they were easy to write and are easy to defend. the podcasts for me are like good books to the avid reader. like good episides of flight of the conchords. like good movies and good art.
i’m sure there are a few great podcasts out there i have not yet discovered, and quite possibly just ones i discovered briefly and gave up on for whatever strange reason….. and some on my list now may be gone in a month or so. there was a period before stitcher when i did not always go get radiolab, for instance. i was tired of those guys making every damn thing sound like it was the most important thing in the world when it was obviously NOT. planet money was on the VERY TOP of the list for a long time when i had a crush on hannah choffe walt’s voice and then they went through such intense host changes seemingly every month that i grew tired of their ping pong popcorn stories. they would get on a roll and then they would digress into stupid shit for months on end with a new host every week. what happened to the guy from last week? did he get a promotion? why is this intern now the main guy talking? i don’t even like his personality? oh, and there;s the good one again, and now some new hire this week?
each podcast has it’s ups and downs. it amazes me they can put out stories every week or even more often. of course they can;t all be mind blowing.
i often dream of doing my own podcast. i wonder how often i could do one and what i could do them about. i have ideas of course. i have grand visions as always. i dream of doing even one. i know it;s a possibility of something i could one day tackle. like making sodas. i thought about for so long and finally got tired of thinking about it.
which brings me to reggae shack. and my need to do something besides write in my blog. at work i say or think all the time…”we could really get some prep done if it weren;t for all these customers…” it’s a joke. hopefully a joke you understand…
well, ” i could really get some painting done of it werent for this stupid blog. ” i don;t know if that really relates to the work statement or not but lately i feel like i am wasting my time here when i should be doing something i’m better at, like painting and collage. but it is 54 degrees out there right now and that means my studio is 53. too cold for this warm blooded orange loving motley fool.
reggae shack has some serious fans. especially on twitter. i am constantly seeing re-tweets by reggae shack from it;s twitter followers. people are crazy for the reggae shack. it makes me sorta incredulous that i don;t go there myself. i am so stuck in my ways i always go to the same places…. hogans, davids, carribean spice, and on occasion gyro plus. i know i should go to reggae shack – i know.
i can;t even understand why i don;t. this week! this week for sure i will get there. because their fans are rabid. because i like omar the owner. because i just get stuck in my regular places and never added them to the route. i don;t know why.
i am always so tired at 2500 words. i just noticed this recently as i started getting fatigued and looked to see how many words i am at. and every time it seems to be about 2500. it’s like how i wake up every damn morning about 5 o’clock. i look at the clock and it seems like it always about 5 am. there are other times too like 6:10. i feel like i always see the clock within a few minutes of 6:10.
well now i am nearly to 2600 words. ridiculous. that’s just too many words, too much nonsense. am i the rush limbaugh of the blogosphere? half of it with something to say and half just to hear myself talk? don’t answer that.
somebody comment please. someone please test a comment and let me see how and if it works. someone tell me you love podcasts or you never listened to one in your life. someone tell me rush limbaugh is your idol. someone tell me that roman mars is your favorite radio voice. tell me i talk too much. tell me something.
or- forget it. navigate to a new page and forget i ever explained stitcher in detail. forget i ever mentioned reggae shack, food truck x, online reviewer guy, and rush limbaugh. forget the image you have in your head of jean claude. forget you ever ate a pizza. forget you know more about me than i know about you.
i will write to sticther and ask them where i fall in the stitcher family of listeners? i would guess i am in the top 35%. i listen more than 65% of folks on stitcher and less than 35%. that’s my guess. i don;t think they will even answer my request.
well…. i have been on a roll so i guess i should keep it going. i’ve told you how it went last night and how i expected a fresh great start today. well, it was a good day and in some ways better than yesterday but wow. we have been just getting busier and busier and now it seems like i should have seen this coming somehow but i didn’t. yes, we pulled ALL the dough out at 7 this morning so we wouldn;t have the proofing problems we had yesterday but it just isn;t so simple…
here’s the thing: pizza dough needs to be a day or two or three old to be at its best. it needs proper time to proof and expand. when it’s just right the dough rises nicely, bubbles a lot. but we are so busy on fridays and saturdays that it’s hard to keep enough proofed dough happening, especially when the weather is cold like is has been. also, we have been getting busier and busier lately so it’s been creeping up on us. today was something i never could have expected. we just were SLAMMED all day. at 5 pm i went to rainbow produce and bought MORE apples, more mushrooms, more basil, more tomatoes, and more green peppers. we were so busy at lunch that we were running out of things. on saturday we are making dough but lots of it is reserved as “tuesday dough.” it sits in the walk-in and proofs up perfectly for use on tuesday. we are usually making dough a day or two ahead because that makes the perfect dough. but tonight at 5pm we had all the dough pulled to proof and i was thinking it would not be enough to get us through the night. about 6pm i pulled some of tuesdays dough hoping i could proof it enough in case we needed it. by 6:45 i was pulling more of tuesday dough for saturday night, and by 7:30 i was still pulling even more dough but worried it would never proof up fast enough. by 8pm i just pulled all the dough out of the walk-in. i have never seen us fly through as much dough in my 11 years. we sold more pizzas today then ever before and i guess it;s just the sunny weather and the fact that we are still getting new customers and we are still getting new repeat customers, and we are just getting more customers as we get more efficient and faster. over 600 pizzas and over 100 calzones…. it was insane. 10 of us in the kitchen and we all ran ragged and could not keep up…. i’ve never seen anything like it. while it was not our busiest day ever, it was probably in the top 3. the dough was just not ready. it was flat, not bubbling enough, not cooking right…. i was having such a stressful time about 7pm…. “do i just turn people away and say we don;t have dough ready? or do i serve the dough that is not proofed properly?” i don;t know!!! about 8:30 i got a terrible aura. an aura is a migraine headache that screws up my vision. i see wavy colorful lines. i can;t focus on things. it’s awful. the stress had gotten to me. i was trying so hard to manage the kitchen insanity and had been working like mad for over 7 hours, and the aura happened as a result. i had done everything i knew to do, i had pulled ALL the dough i thought we would use for the day and realized by 6pm it would never be enough. by 7pm i was using dough made the same day and by 8:30 i realized that all the dough was AGAIN not ready for prime time. turn people away or give them a sub-par product? this dilemma brought on the migraine. and believe me, it’s not the money that motivates me, it’s the question of which does more harm? turning people away on a saturday night certainly makes people upset. making a pizza that has a less than perfect dough upsets them less, at least i thought it would. walking around a couple times it seemed everyone was happy. i even had to wonder how many of them even realized the dough was not nearly as good as usual? i spent maybe 1% of my day in the dining room and 99% in the kitchen. most saturdays would be 50/50, or even up to 75% dining room and 25% kitchen. but tonight i was just so stressed and working with the pizza makers to get all the food out as efficiently as we could. the poor chap that takes every ticket off the printer also calls the takeout times and stretches EVERY dough. his job is so difficult. if there are a load of takeout pies, and pies from LSE, and in house pies (which there always are loads of each) the fellow has to figure out when to make which pie. in house is top priority because they’ve been waiting for a table. LSE is next because they are on site. phone orders last because they are home chillin’. but organizing the 3 groups as the printer is non stop scrolling out the orders is nearly the biggest challenge of the place. maybe the oven is the only one more challenging, or the dishwasher, or the salad maker, or the host… or the server….you see what i mean? everybody’s job is crazy when we are that busy. my job is to make sure everything is happening as it should. my job is crazy hard too…. i had to shred more cheese because we ran out, cut tomatoes, cut basil, stretch dough, make pies, run to LSE, bus tables, answer the phone…..
but the guy on P3… wait, let me backup, let me eplain:
there is a guy making pizzas by the oven, P1. there is another guy making pies next to him P2. there is the guy stretching all the dough and taking the tickets off the printer, P3, and that’s how the thing evolved for us. but later we added ANOTHER pizza maker who we call P4. and then there is the oven position. there are TWO expediters who are the guys checking and running the food. there is ONE salad maker who is totally bad ass because making every salad in a timely manner is practically impossible. and there is a dishwasher who has to be one of the most amazing people on the planet. and then there is me, helping P3 because he is still somewhat new to the position and the job is highly stressful. he and i are stretching dough, deciding which ticket gets bumped, deciding how long it will take for that takeout pie, and also filling up all the toppings for the pizza makers. they call for “meatballs, roasted reds, tomatoes and garlic” and P3 has to fill all those containers and pass them over. the tomatoes may need to be diced and the garlic is always fresh so it will need to be minced. they may need cheese backups, boxes folded, any number of the 30+ toppings, or just water to drink. it’s non-stop action. no time to eat. no time to think. no time to breathe.
next week all the problems will be solved. ha.
not only will we make all the empty trays of dough on thursdays and fridays (for friday and saturdays) but we will RE-CLAIM dough trays to make 6 extra batches of dough. you see, currently the prep guys come in and gather all the empty trays to fill them. by the time they are done it is 2 or 3 o’clock and there are maybe 20 empty dough trays by then that they ignore until the next day…. well, no longer. now they will fill all the empties there when they arrive and keep making dough in the empties that are ready before they leave. on top of this i may buy 15 more dough trays so that we are never in this under-proofed dough situation again. we’ve gone through these business expansion situations many times over the years and we add dough trays and add dough trays. but never has it happened so much from one week to the next. we nearly ran out of dough altogether tonight. that has never even come close to happening before. things just got serious and i plan to work an ‘extra’ 20 hours next week to ensure this doesn;t happen again.
as stressed as i get i also enjoy the challenge of it. i made a comment last night how we make 450 pies to food truck guys 45. well, tonight i actually counted the pizzas which i had never done before. we made over 600 pizzas and 100 calzones, or SEVEN HUNDRED doughs today! say what you will about our quality or “style points” but show me another place baking over 700 pizza/ calzones in a day. i’m sure they are out there, don;t get me wrong, but we do it in a 400 square foot kitchen and we have few mistakes.
yes, i would love to be making 50 pies and making each one more perfect. but instead we have chosen to keep up with demand and challenge what is possible. we are still having growing pains 11 years later. we are still making more and more pies and pushing the envelope on what we can manage with 10 guys in 400 square feet with 4 ovens. we had 3-5 pies waiting to go in those ovens most of the night. 6 ovens is what we really need but that is just not possible on our lot. we have maxed out our footprint and we are going to make do with the 4 ovens we have. i’ve got the hiccups now and it’s making me insane!!
it’s nearly 1:30am. i can;t stay up any longer. my armpits are chaffed from the long days work. my feet are aching like someone has been hitting them with hammers. . my eyes are drooping. i am so thankful for 2 days off. while i feel bad that we sent out lots of pizzas that were not up to our usual standard, i also feel proud that we all powered through it and with barely a mistake. the mistake is that we were not ready for the massive crowds that wanted pizza. but there was no way i could have known that today would be the day we would pass our previous record. and i assure you next weekend i will be ready to make 850 pizzas. i will. i will rise to this challenge and i will win. i will never be defeated by the appetite for good pie. today it’s 700, bring on 800….
these hiccups annoy me. my stress is apparent. let me sleep. let me think. let me rest.
i had a fitful nights sleep, worrying about the dish machine. i had alerted freddy to the issue and he said he’d be in before 8am. he’s reliable so i should have been able to forget about it, the broken dishwasher that is. ha. i woke up at 5am wondering if he was up, if it was too early to call him again. fell barely back asleep and woke up again at 6. laid there, thought about that dough that needs proofing. about 7 i got up and called him. he was on his way but had to stop by domino’s first. laid on the couch and fell asleep about 7:45. at 8:00 freddy calls. he’s found a piece of wire in the impeller motor. it’s a wire that holds a rack for the dishes and it had fallen in and stopped the motor. he’s on it. i lay there thinking about the dough i need to proof and the poor family that’s ticket got in the paper jam and the steak and cheese calzone that came late to table 10 because we sent it to another table. i fell asleep about 8:30. at 8:37 freddy calls back. it’s fixed. good to go. don;t use that wire no more to hold that rack.
by then the kids are up and the day is on. i call in and make sure ALL the dough is pulled out and proofing for today.
it’s noon. i’m headed to work to look at the dough. to make sure i’m happy with it. to help out or clean up something. i’ve got a list of projects i want to get to. so, no need for more writing now. but i did want you to know the dishwasher was fixed so you wouldn;t worry about our poor dish guys washing everything by hand on a saturday.
well, the good…. valentine’s day was sweet for me and my sweetheart. we spent some quality time together in the morning, and our children are constantly making us happy and proud. coming off a day of not eating and into a 3 day eating extravaganza is always great too…. i made a big late breakfast and i love eating more than ever.
while yesterday i struggled with the fasting, i did stop in at publix briefly to check my weight which was still only 4 pounds down from the start which was the same as last week. that can make a guy feel so defeated when i struggle so hard to fast and then it looks like i’m not losing weight on the damn diet. but this morning i was at publix again, buying BACON, and somehow i was down SEVEN pounds from my initial weight so that made me feel much better about my efforts and sacrifice. i think it’s been 6 weeks so being 7 pounds lighter is a success. that kind of result will keep me striving to lose more. i’ve never lost weight before, only gained it, so i think i can keep trying a bit longer. shoot, i’d have to lose 20 more pounds to inch into the overweight category and out of the OBESE category! 20 more! that kind of info just stuns me. i feel overweight but once it’s called obese it just seems crazy. i always thought those HUGE people were obese but actually i am obese. i have long considered the interesting idea of wearing a t-shirt that simply says “I’M OBESE” on it. i don;t know why, but it seems like it would be a shock and also sortof enlightening. i don’t really want to draw that sort of extra attention to myself, but i do think the charts are so whacked. in america now we are all so overweight, and i guess a lot of us are obese. honestly, i think they need to adjust the charts, but this losing weight business is rough. i know it’s something i need to do but I’ve GOT to be one of the biggest fans of food in the world. especially pizza and chocolate.
so, it was a good morning and in the afternoon i was at work and things seemed to be going okay. i slipped out back and painted on a mural for a few hours. the sun was shining and i had a paintbrush in my hand. how great. john and i are finishing up a long concrete wall mural. i think we may finish next week, but that depends if we decide to paint the inside of the planters or not. if we move to the inside we may need another month to finish. ah- but finishing is not the goal. it’s the process. the process is the goal, yes? i don’t know. i do enjoy finishing projects. i have a few things i’d like to finish. there is a satisfaction in finishing something. just yesterday i finished the mosaic wall i’ve been working on a few weeks.
tonight at work was ok. there were definitely some good moments. there was the lady at table 1 who grabbed my hand and held it, she said she didn;t know me from adam but she loved the place so much. she and her husband had moved here from kentucky and they were sad because they thought they would not find a great pizza place like the one they had there. and she found us and she is just as happy if not happier. she loves the place, everything about it. it was so sweet to hear her carry on. there were lots of couples. it was busier than usual and cold but folks still sat outside.
and then we get into the bad…. i’m not sure where to start. i could start with the worst of it and work my way to the least of the worst, or start with the small stuff and lead up to the worst part? well, i’ll start with the least worst which is still pretty bad. a calzone was taken to the wrong table. they started eating it. we had to remake that calzone for the table who didn’t get it. it was that table’s first time at satchel’s. their first time and we had messed up their order. we sent them some free dessert. then there was the paper jam. the paper was jammed in the kitchen printer and we could tell we had a messed up ticket for table rocky 4. we had that ticket reprinted. what we didn;t know was that table van b was also in that paper jam. we found out waaaay later when they were looking for their food and we didn;t even have their ticket anywhere. pretty bad eh? let me tell you, this is one of the worst things that happens to me. on the rare occasion when we lose your ticket i am just so upset i am in shock. i’m not mad, just severely depressed. there are so many times when problems happen, like the calzone issue from earlier, and i go out and talk to the people and apologize. but when we don;t have a ticket? and they have not one, not two, but THREE kids? i am basically frozen in my depression. luckily i have a general manager who goes out and apologizes and adjusts the bill and such, but i want to go out and talk to them too and say i’m sorry too. but tonight i was just too upset to even go face them. i kept trying to get my courage up. i think the server said they had been waiting 45 minutes but i think it was closer to an hour, because i remember the paper jam…. we got their food out in record time and i finally later got the nerve to go out there but the guy was inspecting the bill and i could not stop. i wanted to but i was just too upset. i asked the GM what steps he had taken. he said he gave them $20 off and some free desserts. i wrote up a ticket for a free large pizza and gave it to the cashier to give them when they came up to pay. i like to give out coupons so tables that have a bad time have some incentive to come back. so, free desserts, $20 off, and a free pizza next time, we are getting closer to them leaving in a decent mood. after they paid i met the man at the door to finally apologize. he was so sweet. he said it was ok and he understood. i wanted to cry.
i went and apologized to his wife. she was equally sweet and understanding. they were just the best people in the world. i saw them heading back to the gift shop.
i watched the kids go around picking up toys. i told danny at the bar, see those people, let them get $20 worth of stuff free before charging them. somehow i thought it would be wrong for them to go back and buy toys for their kids after their ticket was lost in our system and they waited an hour for their food. in the old days lots of tables waited an hour for their food. it just took us that long to get the food out. the kitchen was small, we had 2 ovens, and it just took an hour in the middle of a friday night. but now it takes 30-40 minutes. rarely does it take more than 40. i just feel crushed when we mess up like that. i mean, we didn;t mess up on purpose, but the roll of tape was put in crooked, i didn;t think to check that all tickets were in after the paper jam…. the server didn’t catch it either. the people had to ask, “where is our food?”
and then there were the last two things. the dishwasher machine broke. at least it waited until 9:30 but still. there’s a shit ton of dishes to do after 9:30. all the kitchen closing dishes and a dining room FULL of people, and a few still on the waiting list. so that’s a big problem and i can only hope our repair guy freddy can fix it in the morning…. but meanwhile the guys are making the wash, rinse and sanitize sinks, washing everything by hand…. and the worst thing of all? well, the dough was not properly proofed ALL NIGHT. none of it. all night long the dough was not ready. the cold weather coupled with the day crew not pulling dough and the night crew not pulling enough dough, and being busier than usual, meant none of our dough was ready. this makes for crappy crust. chewy. not crispy. flat. i had been so hungry all night and worried about the dough but there was nothing i could do, it was too late. so, at the end of the night i made a pie for myself and thought maybe it wasn;t as bad as i feared. it was worse. far worse. the dough was not good. it doesn;t happen that often because it’s usually so warm and dough can proof in a couple hours. but it happens. and when i happens it is usually a friday night or saturday night when we are super slammed and just can;t proof the dough fast enough to keep up. anyway, that made me sadder then the rest because that meant we sent out hundreds of under-proofed, sub par, under crispy, chewy pies tonight. somehow i failed. i love my restaurant as if she’s my valentine, but somehow our love was not in sync tonight. there are so many people that all have to do just the right thing for everything to go as it should. and today it did not happen. the tape was put in the printer askew. the dough was not properly proofed by several people. the runners ran food without being sure, and all of the blame really falls on me. i was always one step behind all night. the only thing that i can;t take the blame for is the dishwasher malfunction. everything else falls on me. training, watching, paying better attention….
it’s late. i’m yawning. i’m so tired.
tomorrow i will try again. there is a note to get that dough out and proofing right away at 7am. we will NOT have under-proofed dough tomorrow. i sure hope freddy can fix the dishwasher. i’m going to go in early and clean the flour out of that kitchen printer and make sure the paper is in there good.
when you get as big and busy as we are there are just more things that can go wrong. that pizza truck owner i’ve been talking about in recent posts… put a post on his facebook where some dude on yelp said his pizza was awesome and ours was not as good. the yelp reviewer said we were getting “style points” for our atmosphere. ha. what about the fact that i’m making 450 pizzas to his 45? let me make 45 pizzas a day and let’s see how good they are then. i used to make 45 pizzas a day and i made every damn one and they were perfect. now we make 400 or more and they are not each one perfect. they can;t be. the demand is through the roof. there’s just no way to have over 50 employees and have them all be perfect. 2 employees? much better chances.
the whole thing is beyond my control now. we have over a million dollars in wages going out per year. we had 22 employees tonight on staff. i think everyone was doing their best. trying.
tomorrow i’ll do better.
today it’s time to sleep.
well, first off i opened up comments again. i was STILL getting some spam comments even though i thought i turned comments off. so i studied the settings a bit more and am trying some new settings. most normal folks don’t put links in their comments but spammers do so if you try to put a link in there it might not get approved. oh, and i’m also trying a setting that lets me approve the comment. AND i think i tried to make it easier to comment so you might not have to sign in to anything. anyway, while there were never many comments, there were some now and then, and now that i am writing more i feel bad blocking them altogether. so if you ever thought about commenting, now is a good time to try it. i won’t disapprove of comments i don’t like, just the spam ones. i will visit the settings again and see if i can grasp the right way to set it up. so, jean claude, #1 commenter? welcome back to the fold.
i was thinking about the blog and how it is set up. it’s set up so you read my last post first, at least any new comer would. well, that’s fine and all but there is so much that leads up to the modern post that is supported and understood from the previous posts. commenting, for example. if you just found the blog last time and tried to comment you might wonder why you couldn’t comment. unless you were a spammer and then you might wonder why you still could? but besides that there is a story here that unfolds. not a very exciting story, not a story with lots of drama and twists and turns, not a story with a plot and characters. but a story of an artist who begins posting pictures of his family and short edited statements about the day or the hour, and then winds through years of grappling with how to express stories about work, how to link videos and images, and how to manage a terrible blog platform that is far far more complex than i need or understand. and then eventually settling into more of a writing only platform, lengthy rants and monologues about the frustrations with computers and modern tech. frustrations expressed about the difficulties inherent in interactions with large corporations, and the sometimes sublime and sometimes depressing nature of running a business and dealing with so many people every day.
i had laid back down for a nap this morning, because a nap is something i can so rarely afford. i can afford most things i need or want on amazon, at publix, at the medieval fair for the kids…. but a nap is something money can’t buy. the family is out on a trip i couldn;t go on because of my job. so many things happen on friday nights and saturdays and i find it nearly impossible to miss these nights. as said previously a saturday might be 4 or 5 times busier than a tuesday.
so, the family went to visit some friends out of town and will be back this afternoon. well, for me to get up and try and drive the couple hours to them just didn;t make sense since by 3 they will be heading back. so with a house as quiet as it gets, and with a mind as weary as it gets….. i was able to lay back down after breakfast and see if a nap was affordable. and i started drifting off fast. and i thought about the blog and how the format brings people in at the end, and how weird that seemed, and then i thought how it could be set up differently.
i decided in my half awake, half asleep phase, that when going to the blog it should bring you into a foyer of sorts. on one side is a list of years and on the other side the most recent post. and new folks could see a pinch of text or photo that starts of a year and decide where they wanted to start the story…. or the regular reader could just go to the last post and continue keeping up with the latest. and then i was out.
it’s still easy to do because of the archive on the right side of the blog page. one can easily clock and go back. i realize that. but i still find it curious that it starts at the present. i mean, facebook and twitter and the news sites do the same thing. because something from a month ago is out of date, but i guess i see my blog as different. i find it to be an ongoing story that rests on the posts written before it. and while many blogs are photos and recipes and one can jump in at any minute and have it all make sense, i sorta think that to find this blog out of the blue and read any random post, might be disorienting. ah- but it really does not matter. just like everything else i say and buy and do, it all does not matter. the fact is i like to dig in to the details but i also know what is here today will all someday be gone. for some reason this simple fact seems to motivate me. and isn’t it strange that the fact that everything is futile and fleeting is an inspiration instead of the other way around? yes, it’s strange. but while i put great importance and energy into the moments of my day, and the things i choose to do with my time, it stems from the realization that i may not be here tomorrow, and certainly won’t be here in 50 years….. well, i’m 46 so there is always a chance i could live that long but it is unlikely.
anyway, that’s enough dime store philosophy for a sunday. let’s get back to pizza truck x. (from previous post)
i’m often working on a sunday or monday AT work. and folks come up to get pizza. and we are closed. it’s one of the worst parts of my job, turning people away who are excited and have traveled to get there and heard so much about it. but even though they “heard so much” they failed to hear the hours of operation. so they come on a monday and they are from calamazoo, and this is the only chance they will ever have to come, and we are closed. sad. then there’s the folks who want the deep dish. while we can make them around the clock through the week, we can prepare them at night for the morning, or in the morning for the night, we cannot prepare them in time for tuesday lunch and we cannot always predict how many we will need for saturdays. i don;t want to throw away ANY of these deep dish saturday night and often times we do. sometimes 2 or 3 and sometimes 10! the prediction business is hard stuff. so, there might be some people there all excited about the deep dish, it might be their birthday, it might be there 150th wedding anniversary, and they met over a deep dish 155 years previously, but we are out. they get so sad and forlorn.
today i got to feel that too. i have inflicted this pain on others so often that it has come back on me today. i felt bad about dogging out that guys new pizza truck. i never even went back to read the post but pizza truck x owner had said that I said my pizza was “far better” and i really had not given his pizza a proper chance to make a statement like that. but the few times i had actually tried to find out where the truck was, it was a good 30 minutes, through traffic, across town. i am not a man who likes to go on lengthy errands, or any errands for that matter. i like to stay home. i like to go to work. i like to stop and get a few things on the way between this duty and that duty, but i pretty much detest getting in my car to go into traffic to seek out ANYTHING. i like amazon for that reason. if i need something i can wait a few days for it. it is rare that i need something bad enough to drive and look for it except for that one time i really really wanted that anti-gravity chair, and i even have follow up on that story but i’ll save that for another time.
so- when owner of pizza truck x said he would be in hawthorne at a festival this weekend i thought, this is my chance to have a second pie and likely give a more favorable review. my family is out of town so i am here alone. i love pizza so going out for pizza on a sunday is not so bad, and hawthorne is 30 minutes EAST so the drive is not into traffic at all but through the gorgeous countryside which always looks so much better on a sunday afternoon…. so when i woke up from my wonderful nap, when i woke up from the dreams of restaurant work and deep sleepedness, i was a bit groggy and slow but i basically walked straight from the bed to the hat rack and to the car. one of the best things about naps, and i think the reason they are so wonderful, is because it’s a time when sleeping in your clothes is acceptable. we don;t sleep in our clothes at night unless we are just too drunk to know the difference and i can;t remember the last time that happened to me, as i’m not 25. but a nap is a thing where you are almost expected to sleep in your clothes and so waking up is that much easier. i can get out of bed, slip on birkenstocks, pull a hat on my head and have the car engine going all within 30 seconds. it’s efficient and i like that.
i stop at the quick mart for a cola slurpee because it’s one of my favorite things in the world and because i can use a little caffiene at this point. i figure if i play my cards right, i’ll have 2/3 to a half of that slurpee left when i’m chowing on my homemade sausage, certified neopolitan pizza. i’ll tell him to get it real crispy this time, and i am even not too upset that i have to leave the house when part of me wants to stay home and paint. but with my stomach already growling, i know that staying at home means making food and i’ve done more than my fair share of that this week, and about 70% of it just last night, and the stress from all that still haunts my fresh dream, so i’ll drive for the pie.
i get to hawthorne and drive up and down the main road. i see no festival. hawthorne is a tiny place with one light and one grocery store. i decide to go east out of town but once i start going east i realize that i’m leaving hawthorne so i go back and explore a few side roads in town where the ace hardware is and where there is a few other boarded up shops. no festival. i pull over and do some smart phone research. i get the name of a park, i find out it’s 1.3 miles EAST of town. so back to the main road, and back to the east. there it is. so quick i pass it. i u-turn and find a place to park. i stumble around and look for a food truck. a couple passes me with a pizza and i am already happy about the one i am about to eat. the sun is out. it’s warmer than it’s been all week. NO clouds in the sky. the smell of smoke from some campfires is nice, the food truck x is in sight. i am coming at it from the side, i navigate around to the front, and the chalkboard says “SOLD OUT”. owner guy is not there. i look up and here he comes walking up. “we sold out” he says. “i never stretched so many doughs.” i’m somewhat stunned as you might imagine. i’ve taken this hour plus from my sunday to have someone else make ME a pizza. “how many did you make?” i ask, mostly just curious but also wondering what is it like to “sell out” in this food truck. “45,” he says. “oh.” i say.
“well, all is not lost, there’s cool stuff to see around here,” and he pans his arm around at the spread out, sparsely attended festival of “life skills.” (how to skin beavers, forage food, iron working…. so i’ve been told) “that’s ok. i just came for the pizza,” i say dejected. and turn on my heels and head back. i’m in the car and heading out as fast as i had been from the nap. there was nothing at that festival i was interested in. i don’t even like festivals very much. the only reason i go to the medieval fair is because the kids think it’s the best thing in the entire world. i always feel like everything costs way too much, am under impressed with the food, and run into about 20 people who want to talk about pizza. no, i was back home and it had been just over an hour, and made myself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on stale bread.
on the days when i fast, i always dream about food and think i will never “waste” a meal again. like when i was at the medieval fair and was so let down by my burger. i thought how sad that here i was, able and ready to eat, and yet i had not gotten the most our of my meal. i had just ordered at the wrong place. why get those empty calories from fries that can be so wonderful if the fries are cold and limpy? why eat that big old burger when there is no lettuce or onion, and the burger is rare inside? why eat a stale peanut butter sandwich when tomorrow i’ll be abstaining from food altogether and dreaming of the finest meals i’ve ever had? the act of taking two days off a week of eating has me thinking about the food i do eat in a new way. i appreciate food so much more. i try not to eat just to eat but to eat to enjoy the flavor and the experience.
i was gonna tell you about the talk at the library. i was gonna write about the insane night at the restaurant last night. i could easily spend another 2500 words on this gorgeous day and the many projects i start to contemplate when the sun shines down on my soul. but i’ve got to get the garbage out to the “curb” even though we are on a dirt road with no curb…. i was thinking i’d swim some laps as i really enjoy the exercise and getting the blood pumping better through my joints. and i’d like to get to the studio and start a new collage and clean the few things that litter my shop from last weeks framing of a couple new paintings, but the sun is sinking so quickly now. when i set myself down here i was in full glory of the sun and now the shadows have all but overtaken me and the family will be returning to distract me from my plans soon enough.
thanks for your time.
man, am i posting all the time now or what?
it’s late. i’m tired. i should not be here.
but hey. a couple things
i am always thinking no one is reading this but there are obviously a few of you out there. and you few are not nobodies. you are somebodies. so forgive me for being self deprecating if i say no one is reading because you are obviously reading, whoever you are, and you are not nobody but somebody.
i tell you what. i try and be careful about what i say. i have to not talk about my lifes details too much because some stuff is just too personal – and i cant or shouldn’t talk about customers because that is just wrong. and so i am always halfway trying to make an interesting post without spewing some juicy gossip i heard or explaining some employee drama that would blow your mind. i can;t go there. i have to ride that line between what’s personal and intimate and whats out of bounds and not appropriate. it can get tricky. but mostly i just talk about my personal struggles and crap like that so all that does is expose my weaknesses and likely make me seems shallow and petty. i’m sorta ok with that because i am as human as you and being honest and open is a way to be surprisingly intimate and expressive. but in the course of my rambling i also will step on a toe here or there or mention something i should have not mentioned. such is the case with that new pizza truck in town. i honestly don;t remember talking about the new pizza truck or saying that our pizza was “far better” but i definitely remember being put off by the facebook reviewer dude saying that pizza truck had “the best pizza in gainesville” and feeling hurt that this popular reviewer did not just say this once but 2 or 3 times and thus making me feel sad. here’s the thing: you would be super hard pressed to make a pizza i like more than mine. anyone, anywhere. no matter what you do. i have tried LOTS of pizza. more than likely 90% of americans. i eat pizza as often as i can from as many places as i can. i traveled a lot in my 20′s. i am a serious pizza fanatic. and i make what i think is the best pizza. spicy. big. fat crust on the edge. not over cheesed. cooked well. if i thought there was some way to make it better i would do it. if i thought there was some way to improve i would go to whatever lengths to improve. but the bottom line is i think my pizza is as close to perfect as pizza can get. i’m sorry. it’s just how i am. i constantly strive to perfect it.
anyway, back to my pizza truck and online reviewer story. so in my sting of sadness that online reviewer fellow does not seem to have the same taste buds as i do, i must have remarked in my stream of consciousness blog that reviewer man said pizza x was the best in town and i had tried pizza x and thought my pizza was “far better.” i do not remember this and i have not tried to look back and find it. but no matter, because the story here will explain more.
and to be honest, when i tried pizza x it was their first night open and the pizza was good but not really the style i like. it was runny, not cooked enough, and i wondered if the oven was hot enough and i ate it while driving my daughter somewhere and so there was no ambiance or atmosphere to speak of. since then i’ve seen some incredible photos of pizza x and thought how nice it would be to try again and try the sausage one. i am very often going to new restaurants the day they open or in the first week because i love to see how they are handling things. i know how stressful and hard it is on week one and i like to witness the beginning so i can witness the later growth. i am a great early customer because i am forgiving and excited and will allow for any fault or fumble. however, i did not try pizza x again since i never know where the pizza truck is parked.
but i know i said something about my pizza being “far better” because i got a text from the owner of pizza x saying “far better?” and i was like “what the hell are you talking about?” and the following texts were a series of me realizing i had gone on record on my personal blog to call out pizza x and say my pizza was far better. well, i did not know anyone was reading my blog and never expected that i would insult someone specifically in that way. honestly it was more from being offended that online reviewer was not saying I had the best pizza that led me down that road of insult. pizza x is fine and my experience with pizza x is far too limited to pass judgement. if you had been to my pizza place on night number 1 you would be able to diss my pizza as well. we all learn by experience and i am sure it is no different for pizza x. i know the guy who owns pizza x. he worked at satchels for a week. he is a nice guy, a culinary chef type guy. he takes his pizza seriously and it is a completely different beast from what we do. it is small, cooked very fast in a wood burning oven, and what i call “fancy.” our pies are big, cooked slow and much more traditional american pizza. people might say it’s like apples to oranges. i’d say it’s like comparing airplanes to sailboats. they are both quite interesting and fun, but have different goals and origin stories. and yes, not only is it not fair to compare the two, but it was selfish to be offended by brand new startup pizza x and by the full endorsement from mr. online reviewer. i am always happy for folks that realize their dreams and i also know that my pizza is not everyone’s favorite. for some it’s too spicy, for others the dough is not right. i will likely always have a hard time understanding that perspective but i certainly grant them full right to their opinion. there is no absolute. one mans trash is another mans treasure and one mans favorite pizza is another mans least favorite.
when i said my pizza was “far better” what i meant was it is “far different.”
i plan to try pizza x again as soon as i can find the time to find the truck. pizza x is not in my usual circle of travel. it may take me over an hour to seek it out and i am a busy man… busy back pedaling and trying to apologize for dissing the dude’s pie. the truth is i don;t know yet. i used to get so offended by a bad review online and think, “that dude just got a soggy pie one time and now he thinks our pizza sucks. if he came back he’d probably get a good pie and understand. ”
it is certainly not fair to judge a meal from one try on the first night. certainly not fair and i was out of line
oh shit it’s 12:30. i can;t keep writing. no time to talk about the long list i came to tell you about. maybe soon i will be back. but i’ve got to move on to my sleeping phase. can you believe that i would actually get busted for dissing the dude’s pizza? what are the chances? and here i kept saying “nobody reads this” but hey. i obviously have no idea. and honestly, i am not the kind of guy that goes around offending people. i strive to be the kind of guy that is pretty good at NOT offending folk. it;s the politician in me. the part of me that wants to be all things to all people. the same part that is in all of us that wants to be liked, respected, civil, stand-up.
gosh. i could really get into some stuff if i had the time……
oh geez. now that i have blocked comments i feel compelled to include jean claude’s comments here. you know him. you know him as well as i know him. he’s the french guy who used to comment but then i stopped allowing comments. not because of him, actually he was my best commenter and i love his comments, but because i was getting a bunch of spam comments and i didn;t know how to block the spam and the spam was increasing so i just cut it off. jean claude was the only “real” commenter anyway and now he knows my email so i still get the pleasure of his wisdom. but before i get into that i want to point out that “commenter” is not a word. i’ve tried to use this word before and my computer underlines it like “hey dummy, NOT a word!” so, in the past i re-worded the damn sentence so i didn;t use a non-word. but hell, i don’t care anymore. jean claude is a commenter. he is. someone who comments. webster- catch up with the times.
so, back to jean claude. the email i got today was simple. wonderful. oh, i think you will really like this one…..
Il n’est guère de passion sans lutte.
which translated means…
It is hardly of passion without a struggle.
isn’t that so good? an american would never say this shit. i don’t know why exactly but i think our country is just not old enough for this sort of wisdom. i went to europe. those folks are different than us. their towns seem ancient and steeped in history. cobblestones are everywhere and faces are lines with experience and intrigue. the people seem so connected to the earth. super smart but also more in touch with their inner selves. i know this all sounds stupid, believe me i know. but if you went to europe for a few months i think you would understand what i mean. i was in amsterdam, germany, prague, switzerland, italy and france. it was mind blowing. it taught me so much. it is an “old world” and you can feel the depth of the wisdom around you. it is in the faces of the old people, it is in the colors of the bricks and it is in the browns of the wood. here we have lots of strip malls and fake boobs and pumped up lips and shallowness. but there you don;t feel that so much. anyway, i am not meaning to diss america here because i do love my country and my life in florida and i see wisdom in the old folks here and feel the history in the largeness of the oaks and the saturation of the grey spanish moss. there is a beauty in america too, a newness, a spirit of adventure, a brash flashiness and glitter. it’s just different is all. it’s hard to explain in a paragraph but it’s real. i can;t imagine writing a blog post and having some dude named brad say, “it is hardly passion without struggle. ” we just don;t think like that. and that’s okay. but i appreciate the complexity of the contrast, i just don’t understand why some guy in france is following my boring american blog? that is what confuses me most. now, he could be french canadian.
i haven’t ruled that out. i actually know 2 guys who speak fluent french and i have wondered if one of them is posing as this character jean claude? there is my old friend greg who i met in france but he moved to america and now lives in portland. and there is yvan, who is french canadian and once worked at satchel’s many years ago but now has his own restaurant in canada. maybe it’s one of them but the voice sounds unique and not like them. plus, i don’t know why they would pretend to be someone else. anyhow, the best explanation i can offer is that this fellow somehow happened upon the blog a year or so ago and he reads a lot. so he follows it and follows a bunch of other things. whatever, it doesn;t matter, but it is sort of interesting. especially that part about the passion and the struggle. it’s so true. i am a passionate individual and i do struggle. the silly part is my struggles feel so real but i know they are so mild. i know enough about the world to know that when i am depressed from a cold spell or a diet, that my struggles are inferior, trite, and mostly pathetic. but we are stuck inside ourselves and all bound to jump the hurdles set out for us, no matter how small they are and how overweight and out of shape we are.
ok. hammocks. we want to have nice things. we really do. but here’s what i was witnessing saturday night. i saw kids, lots of kids under 10, maybe i saw 15 kids playing at lightnin salvage. and i saw a bunch of kids, maybe 4 or 5, playing on the hammock…. but not swinging or laying like one should do in a hammock, no. jumping up and down like the hammock is a trampoline. i should have said something to them. i realize i should have said, “kids, hey you kids!! where’s your parents? why are they letting you treat this nice hammock like a trampoline?” but i just half smiled and went about my business. why? well— because i have kids and i know if they are playing trampoline on the hammock they are
1. having the time of their life and
2. not bothering me trying to talk to my wife with an uninterrupted thought while drinking a beer.
i get it. you’re out to eat. there’s a hammock. the kids are happy and playing. i’m feeling pretty good but slightly hungry. and hey, the hammock is there for the kids, right?
well, i want to have nice things. but the hammock broke. the wooden piece at one end snapped in half. i can just see the kids now. i like to imagine the whole scenario: the kids are jumping and screaming and laughing. the hammock breaks, the wood snaps and a couple kids tumble the 3 inches to the ground and go “uh-oh.”
some good little girl goes to tell her mom while the boys run off to terrorize another part of the property. “mom, jack broke the hammock” and mom goes to see and says, “are you ok? is jack ok? where is jack?’ and the girl says “yeah, he’s fine, he went that way>” and the mom thinks “thanks god, this place is not safe. let’s get out of here. ”
whatever. the hamock was used when we hung it there and LOTS of folks (mostly kids) got some good times on there. i had no idea it would be such a kid magnet. i thought a grown up would lay there once in a while or a couple would enjoy some relaxation. i figured that people don;t get enough hammock time in their life and it’s hard to find a good spot for a hammock in most people’s yards so we would give them the experience at lightnin’ salvage. that’s what i thought. turns out the hammock is where every kid goes to jump up and down and swing like crazy.
i asked pete, the maintenance guy, if he could rebuild it. he said not likely. the ropes all go through the wood and then get braided together over a ring….. so just to make the memory fade quickly i told him to throw it in the dumpster. and i went on amazon and ordered an orange and red hammock that will arrive thursday.
i don;t know if it;s the right thing to do or not but i just can;t stand the thought of lightnin’ salvage now without the hammock.
i spent the better part of my day doing a mosaic on a wall at work. i had a lady come up to me who was from out of town and she told me what a fun and happy place it was and how it put a smile on her face. i had a few people take pictures and the most popular questions are “am i going to do the whole wall?” and “do i have an idea before-hand?” the answers are yes and no. seriously, i could keep setting those tile until the sun went down because it is so peaceful and i’m sitting in a chair and the sun is out and the weather divine. but unfortunately i have to tend to the business of the restaurant too. the computers are doing weird things. i call the GM. the office manager is on a tangent, i break to solve a problem she has discovered. the beer guys don;t have the beer i want in stock so i have to call and get mad at the company and threaten to get my beer somewhere else. the beer guys show up with free beer and an apology and i have to stop and chat and buy them lunch and try and seem like a guy who is not crazy… widmer bros. hefeweizen is my favorite beer and we’ve been selling it on tap since we opened almost 11 years ago. but i’ve had a hard time getting it only twice and both times in the past few months. i want things i want. i don;t want to keep switching up to other beers that don;t sell as well and don;t taste as good. whatever. you get the idea. customers are coming and going, i am stopping to find out why the salad did not get feta when it was on the ticket? i want to know why the LSE computer crashed twice? i want the GM to find out what went wrong when they tried to move one order to another table on the computer? and finally, at 4pm i am the head honcho at the server meeting where i have a group of servers come sit and listen to me ramble on about how to be the best server they can be. how do they read each customer’s needs? how do they be effective yet invisible? how to they serve in a way that strikes the balance between over service and under service? what is the philosophy of the job?
but in between all that i was laying those tile pieces one at a time. enjoying the day. enjoying that i get to make art. happy that my job allows my the height of pleasure to complement the depth of stress. i’m sure jean claude understands. for how can we have passion without struggle? i am able to enjoy the art so entirely because i endure the “business” side of the job so often too.
and then i get home. at home we are in the early stages of what looks to be a long complicated re-model. long because we make decisions slowly and thoroughly. complicated because i am highly opinionated and stubborn. when i talk to the mason and his 40 years of experience suggest something contrary to the engineer’s plans, i listen. this sort of listening gets me thinking. this sort of thinking gets me in trouble. i decide i want the engineer to change his plans… it;s part gut feeling, part common sense, part aesthetic and part my faith in the mason. but in my absence (at work) the contractor is home talking it through with my wife and my wife cannot fathom that i would question an engineer. me, a guy who makes pizza and has an AA degree. did i mention my stubborn nature? well, since my opinion is as hard as the concrete slab just poured, and since the engineer says that it CAN be done the way i want it done, i imagine there is no need for further discussion but come home to realize that i am– oh so wrong. i am reminded many times of my lowly status and the status of the mason. i am reminded of the math and degree of the engineer. i am reminded that my change will take time, cost money, and to what end?
i cannot lie. my wife and i have talked about this addition for many many years and i tried to put it off as long as humanly possible for this very reason. these things are stressful, complicated, expensive and divisive. it;s hard stuff. i actually thought i could keep putting it off forever but then i ran out of excuses. so now we have to figure out how to navigate it. it;s not possible to go through without mistakes and missteps. we’ve been going around and around about the flooring for months. months i say. and we aren;t arguing, we are just weighing the options, thinking long term, talking to lots of smart people. but even though we make good decisions together and even though my wife is the smartest person i know, it’s an added stress because we can never know in the moment if we are making the “right” move or choice. we can just make our decisions based on the information we have and in my case, the “feelings and relationships” i enjoy. i admit right here on the internets for the world and jean claude to see that i might be wrong in wanting the engineer to take a different route to the same end. but like popeye, “i yam what i yam.” and i don’t trust him just because he has a “degree” (even though i do trust his plan would work,) and because it’s my grandparents house i feel i have a right to put my foot down. (even if i bought the house last week i think i’d still feel the right to my uneducated opinion)
the good news is the engineer says we CAN do it the way i want. the bad news is i’m in the doghouse for being stubborn, for not trusting the engineer, and for talking too loudly to the contractor on the phone about why i think my way is right. basically for being obnoxious and stubborn and wrong. the good news is i will wake up and be excited about a day i can eat food and hopefully work on my mosaic if the rain holds out. the bad news is i’ve upset my wife and not sure if she’ll forgive me by morning.
the moral of the story is hammocks are not trampolines, jean claude could also be canadian, and we should all trust the engineers. i have no idea why it took me over 2400 words to say that. i know because right below my writing it shows my word count which is now at 2478. ridiculous
well, i did sleep a solid 5 hours but i woke with all the adrenaline and anxiety that comes with a slammed busy night at a restaurant. my dream had me washing dishes, and the dishes were piled everywhere. had gone to bed at 12:30 after a crazy night at work. woke up at 5:30 wide awake and still in the intensity of the restaurant at full steam. laid there until 6:30 and then finally realized i was not about to fall back asleep. why lay there now for 2 more hours? the thing is i’m often up early. daily i get up to get my daughter off to school. even though her school starts at 7:45, she swears she has to be there at 7:30. i usually wake up about 5:30 without an alarm and then doze some until 6:30, so today is no different, except for the intensity a saturday night at work brings, except for the fact that i would give just about anything to sleep in until 9am. how cool would it be to just sleep in on a sunday morning? but i guess it has something to do with my weekday routine, and something to do with getting closer to 50, and something to do with my anxious nature. it’s not in my cards. the best i could hope for today is to go back and lay down in a couple hours and get another hour of sleep.
wow. words to describe the sort of intensity we go through at satchel’s on these crazy saturdays are few. wow. damn. unreal. so, i went in for a couple hours at lunch and it’s full and busy and all that… but i went back at 5 and right away the tickets were just non-stop. there’s a guy stretching the dough, 3 guys making pies, one guy just cooking the pies and not one of those 4 has a minute to spare. as the night progresses and more and more people decide to order take-out, the kitchen tickets just back up and up…. there’s 4 ovens all full of pizzas and 4 pizzas waiting to go in the oven. the dishwasher job just blows your mind, he is constantly running his machine, constantly cleaning dough trays, as soon as silver is clean, there’s a new round. from the moment he gets there until midnight is unrelenting. salad station? omg. if it weren’t for ruthie over there killing it we would need 3 people on that station. how does she do it? no one has ever figured it out. she makes every single salad that is ordered and cuts each apple to order…. there is no second to spare. there;s 2 guys just cutting pies and running to tables or LSE, but even they can’t keep up and have to hand off pies to servers to run. even then there are constantly several pies waiting to be cut or boxed. the intensity is so extreme.
it’s not surprising i wake with an intense restaurant dream at 5:30. i washed dishes for over 5 years at 706 and the weekends there were the same sort of intensity. i don’t know how many seats they had but it was all i could do to wash those dishes. my hands moved so fast all night. the difference now is just that i feel the intensity of the entire restaurant instead of just the dishes. even with all those people doing all those jobs, i spent the better part of the night stretching dough because the regular guy was cutting basil or tomaotos or filling up cheese bins, or toppings for the pizza makers, or getting more dough, or running food…. i can only try to describe the intensity but to actually live it is something else entirely. how we all are able to sustain that all night is quite incredible and some people are on longer shifts, some of them are working doubles or came in at noon and worked through it all. there’s something so incredible about it too. the fact that we were able to feed so many people and keep the majority of them happy. the fact that we all kept in a good mood and got along. the fact that so many bodies moved through a small space in such a short period of time.
i hear the birds now. they are signaling the beginning of this super bowl sunday. it’s a bit misty out there. i can see the dawn from this couch where i type. i hear the frogs from our pond, the birds and the frogs– and the cat is at my feet, ready to eat. it feels good. feels good to work that hard and accomplish that much. it’s hard to tarry on the mistakes and there weren;t that many anyway. there were lots of holes in pies. i woke up realizing it may be the pizza peel that is causing that. it’s front edge may be sharp and need filing. there was the ticket we lost. the 2 calzones came up and we had no ticket. we searched on the computer and found they were marilyn’s take out. 2 steak calzones that we would normally box without cutting but had already cut and put on plates. there were a couple mistakes to lightnin. a topping button hit wrong but we sent out make-up slices on the fly. for the hundreds and hundreds of pies we made, the couple mistakes were mild. i sit here and think about how great a crew we have, how hard they work, how amazing a machine it is. the pizza machine. that would have been an appropriate name for the place. it was one i considered. i wanted to have a machine for a sign out front. all sorts of pulleys and gears and motors, ideally even moving parts. can’t you see it? the big bulky machine? and somewhere worked into all this machinery a couple slabs of wood PIZZA MACHINE…
i love it. i love the intensity although it does make me anxious, although much less so now than 5 years ago. the kitchen set up is so great now. the employees are so well established. the customers are great too. i’ll be thanking them and they’ll try and thank me. ha. they all seem to love the food and be happy. we’re working so damn hard and they’re enjoying it so damn much. it’s a beautiful symbiosis.
we’ve got a double sleepover happening here. each kid has their best friend over. they had pizza for dinner, imagine that. they will likely be up soon now. even though they likely stayed up late they will wake up early excited about the new day, not a care in the world. not a bill to pay or even schoolwork to do. their best friend next to them, and the medieval fair day has finally arrived. my kids like it more than disney world. they save up all year to buy crap and they will surely be asking right away when we are gonna go? i’ll be answering, “when i wake up from my nap.” ha. if no nap is able to happen i’ll likely be nodding off during the superbowl, or going to bed entirely too early.
how glorious it was also yesterday to see the blue sky and feel the sun’s warmth again. i clasped my hands together, closed my eyes, and looked up. it’s similar to this diet where you take a day off eating and when the day comes and you can eat again “it’s like being let out of jail,” my father-in-law said that and he is so right. well it was like that with the sun and warmth returning yesterday i felt. it was like i had been in jail and finally out seeing the sun. of course, it was really NOTHING like being let out of jail but you know what i mean.
7:20. i hear stirring in the bedrooms. i think the boys are up. i hear whispering.
the boys usually wake up before the girls. the girls can sleep in pretty good.
i was wrong. the girls are up. “there were lego’s in the bed,” they tell me. “you never bought me an outfit for the medieval fair,” my daughter reminds me. “i have to wear the same thing every year.” that “same thing” is the dress she got there a couple years ago. she wants to dress up for the fair but i tell her, “the best place to get something is AT the fair.” maybe this year she can get something new to wear to next year’s fair. we’ve only done disney once. and once i took them to wild adventures which was pretty fun because there was hardly anyone there and so there was no waiting in line for the rides. but the medieval fair is their big thing for the year. whatever money i take in my wallet will likely be gone by the day’s end. often it;s over $100. and that’s with them bringing money of their own too. if you go you know how expensive it is. sure, there are years we limit the extra rides and lemonades but this year i think i’ll go all out. i worked so hard last night that i feel like spending some money today. lucky kids.
giggles now coming from the girls. think i’ll go pour myself a large glass of water, maybe even lay on the couch. talk to ya’ll later.
although i had a bad nights sleep, things seemed to brim with excitement today. the weather warmed up a bit even though there was still dampness and overcast skies. but we have been eagerly and anxiously awaiting to pour a slab at our house, adding on our first indoor laundry room and my first real office. the guys were here about 7am and right away there was energy. the carport where the addition goes was where i kept my tools and often did some light carpentry so when we decided to add on, a shop had to be built for tools and light carpentry. that happened over a year ago…. and then designing of the new space started. this dragged on for a year and then finally we spent months obtaining a permit. now we’ve spent another couple months preparing for the slab and getting numerous inspections by the county and today the slab was poured. moments ago i walked around on the slab, enjoying the idea of envisioning a changing home.
so besides that- i was eating a great breakfast, and deep dish pizza for lunch and a slice of pizza for dinner. tonight i tried jalapeno peppers for the first time on my slice and liked them. i am not usually a fan of spicy food but my palette seems to be changing lately and i am drinking grapefruit juice and never liked it before. i am craving spicy foods where i did not before. so while my mouth was burning slightly, i was excited to be having a new topping i have not tried after almost 11 years in this business.
it was busy at work and customers seemed pleased. there was a mistake at lunch i was aware of but none at dinner i knew about. i was able to do some mosaic tile and enjoy the friendliness of so many customers and employees today so nothing to complain about there.
oh- and jean claude is back. jean claude is the fellow who was the most common commenter on my blog. i liked to “read” his comments as they always straddled the line between esoteric and profound. i say read in quotes because they are in french and i have to put them through an online translator. but the problem was the increasing amount of spam comments i was getting on the blog. sometimes 4 or 5 a week. spam. so i cut out the comments. this isn;t facebook. this is an obscure blog to arrive at- and commenting is a nice feature — but i just don’t understand this blog site enough to handle the details of how to keep out the spam. anyway, jean claude just couldn;t take it anymore so he sent me a comment on email. should i share the comment? i guess so.
translated to english here it is:
Stay calm, even if you have reduced to silence the voices of the web, there are messages that I need to send you that will have the relevance of your life, and your death.
This business of regime, I have a few questions on this subject. It is preferable to the enjoyment of the fruit and the wine than to die of hunger or of such a discipline as a sentry of the barracks. We must eat to live, but also to the spiritual aspect of him – I sense that you prepare for a new trip.
As to the children, not punish them. They will grow up as they will. It is your sole obligation to be a positive memories for them.
I sense that you are in great danger. Remember what I said to you there ya long. Learn how to exist as a part of what is around you. You cannot control the wind.
best line: you cannot control the wind.
weirdest line: i sense that you are in great danger.
do i know this guy? i am trying to remember my past. i was in france for a summer long ago. but maybe he is someone who has stumbled on my blog and likes to comment? i wonder about these things as anyone might. it is interesting. writing into a void that is not so void. people are out there. listening, judging. following my silly thoughts.
regarding the punishment of children. i should say i am not one that punishes my kids very often. my kids are awesome and while they have their moments of disrespect and break down, like anyone, they are really smart, wonderful, amazing little people. they go unpunished quite often. most of the time they get lectured, or are party to discussions about how things work in the world. what is obnoxious and what is humility? how to make friends and what makes one a jerk? but occasionally, very occasionally, they do something which is just hard to let go. they act in a way that seems to test us as parents, challenge their boundaries, or just is out of line with the situation so severely that taking away computer time is merited. not playing on the computer for a day or two is hardly a punishment. they still get food, love, hugs, movies, books read to them…. but they do without some or all computer time and this is not that bad a “punishment.” but i only defend this because of jean claude— and we have no idea if JC has kids or if he does how they will turn out? i know people that do not ever punish their kids and their kids rule the roost. their kids can be horrible. their kids can run the show. i think lots and lots of love has to be tempered with some instruction and occasional punishment to make for a kid who ends up a decent adult. i was punished only occasionally but those few instances taught me things i needed in life. i do not agree that kids do not need punishments but then again, i have no idea who jean claude is either. i have no doubt my kids have an abundance of good memories with me. it’s likely all they have at this point. at 12 and 9 i have spent truckloads of time and fun with them. we read. we hang out. we talk about stuff. we laugh. we dance. we eat pizza.
another new thing i have been doing, besides eating jalapenos and grapefruit juice, is sending things to my reading list. on my phone if i am on twitter or facebook or reddit or wherever…. and i see something that looks interesting, i just send it to my reading list for later. that’s all well and good but i have yet to have the time to get back to that list. that was my plan for tonight, to go through my reading list and see what stories i thought would be interesting over the last few days. i could go to the studio in this weather too but i am excited about the idea of laying on the couch and reading for a change. but if that is the case then why am i writing so much into the cyberspace? i don’t know. to make the last few posts fall down the way?…. the show that i am not down in the dumps again?…. to tell you about jean claude?…. to tell you i am excited to be eating food, watching the artist of the concrete slab, and dreaming about an office with a window onto a field? an indoor utility room? a bigger kitchen? new floors that are not cold and hard? all of the above.
i am excited about the super bowl, as stupid as a thing it is. i like the spectacle of it, the couch potato-ness of it (because i am so rarely plopped in front of a TV) and my kids are so damn stoked about the medieval fair that i’ll have fun watching them have fun. i will also be glad for warmer weather predicted tomorrow and dinner at my mom’s sunday night. it;s funny how even keel my life seems right now and how up and down my posts must seem. while i have been less than upbeat the last few weeks, you wouldn;t know it from meeting me on the street. while going through my days and doing the tasks set out for me i am just about the same day in and out. generally happy and well adjusted. even keel and happy to chat. if i talk about my frustration with the weather or some circumstance, it is an internal and personal struggle which actually barely registers on my daily activity and mostly only registers here in font. my life is about as even keel as a life can be. while i feel things deeply this way or that, i go about my business with a similar stride and countenance from one day to the next.
i like every day. cold or hot, rain or bluster. but some days are just easier to write about, easier to brag about, and easier to find comfort in.
i’ll paint about all this i’m struggling to express. i’m finishing up my third painting this year already. they are “symmetrical” this year. i put it in quotes because actually they are semi-symmetrical. they have a symmetrical aspect while they may be squashed down or right, they have a motion that defies their symmetry. i have a motion that defies my symmetry too. but if you look at them you would see the pattern. the mandala. the spiral and radiating from the center out. they are balanced. i am balanced. not completely but mostly. if you look at my paintings now you would see what i mean. they express my rambling on so much better than all this. when painting i often think about the things i could be writing about. when writing i often think i’d be so much better off painting my mood.
now to a glass of wine and my reading list.
funny how a day can turn on a dime.
how i can feel and see the weather bring needed adjustment to my outlook.
how little control i have over the wind…..
yesterday was rough for the biz…. lightnin salvage brought in $189. i think the cost of wages in a day back there is over $250. the band probably got $50 or $75… of the $189 we made half of that went to the cost of the item…. some days are like that, especially cold and wet days like this. the whole place is outdoors.
satchel’s is supposed to be subsidizing lightnin’ when it’s slow like that but even satchel’s struggled to pay the bills yesterday. fortunately we have those insane weekends which help offset the slow weekdays. it still amazes me, after almost 11 years doing this, that a saturday can be 5 times busier than a tuesday. 5 times!! it’s probably normally 3 times busier but it’s not uncommon to be 5 times busier…. when there are lines out the door and over an hour wait i am always wondering where all these people were wednesday night? thursday?
it’s ok though. i can;t control the weather. and if i would have done a groupon like i should have then i wouldn’t have this problem, ha. how about a groupon where you say come in for a discount if it is below 50 degrees and raining? yelp is now emailing me trying to score a 20 minute phone conversation. i don’t know. i just cannot get behind these forms of advertising. yelp. groupon. daily deals…. basically i have made the payroll so high i have not left room for these advertising programs. people always think i’m some sort of business genius to be able to create such a thriving business but the truth is i’m not that good at it. anyone who looked at the books with any business sense would shake their head. the problem for me is i can;t seem to do it any other way. i already feel like employees need a lot more money and so there’s no way i can just pay them less. i guess that’s why they teach things like percentages and how to keep everything in balance. i also am just guessing that “they” teach these things… they being business classes in colleges….
regardless, it is still working. i mean, people still come in (especially when the weather is better) and there’s still profit to be made. but when those slow slow days come and the weather is bad, it makes me nervous, event though it shouldn’t.
so now i’m writing in the middle of the day. cooped up in my house afraid to go out in this wet cold weather. my house is cold too. the concrete floors make it like an icebox. the house used to have an oil burning heater. back then it would heat the house rather quickly and nicely. but it proved too difficult to have room for the oil furnace and the air conditioning in the one small hallway closet. so when the furnace broke we switched over to a heat pump system which is nowhere near as good as that furnace was. soon i’ll just go up to work where it’ll likely be slow again and i’ll try and keep busy but will likely go a bit stir crazy from the calculations my head cannot avoid that add up wages of employees vs customers in the restaurant. then i’ll just jump ship and come home and think about ways to cover these concrete floors.
i feel as if i only have 2 options, although i know there are others i am not representing. option 1 is to express my real feelings about the frustration with the cold and wetness of the weather and how it dampens my spirits so severely. option 2 is to keep my mouth and computer shut. the reason i cannot represent another option is because it’s just not part of my make-up. i can’t come write and pretend that i feel great and wax on about how great things are owning a pizzeria and being an artist. i went to alaska one time and it was gorgeous and it was summer. i stayed because i was so smitten with the natural beauty and i guess i was too young and naive to comprehend that winter would not be as awesome. man did i get depressed. the sun went away. the cold set in. i was miserable. i spent my days writing like i am here. writing about all the things from childhood i could remember, about my questions about love, about growing pains. i wrote hundreds of pages those cold dark days in alaska.
so i would likely be keeping my mouth/ computer shut if it weren’t for the diet. i have never done a diet in my life. i cannot even fathom the idea of cutting my daily calories, counting calories, stuff like that. i’d rather be obese than have to diet. and i am. but this diet i heard about where you eat 5 days and fast for 2, well that is the first ever diet i thought i could handle. the 2 fasting days are 3 days apart so for me it;s monday and thursday.
——back to this in a minute—– my hunt and peck method of typing has gotten fairly fast over the years. but somehow i learned the apostrophe button wrong. i always hit the semi-colon when i mean to hit the apostrophe. i;ve fixed it a few times already in this rant but i am tired of fixing it because it slows down my thoughts. i even tried to re-learn that button but so far i have been unsuccessful. please understand i am a man stuck in my ways.
back to the diet. what i like about it is i’m a person who likes all or nothing. i can quit drinking easier than moderate drinking. i like to do things all the way or not do them at all. if i take up a new hobby i will throw myself into it around the clock but i won’t even start a hobby i can only give a bit of time to. anyway, the fast diet appeals because i do need to lose weight. i think we are surrounded by so much food all the time as americans and abstaining from food for a day is a healthy and spiritual exercise. i often times feel gluttonous from the amount of food in my frig or on my plate. taking a couple days off every week is supposed to reset our metabolism and help our body start to burn some fat. anyway, i wasn;t even going to discuss this diet but it is a factor in my writing because i need things to help pass the time. i go to work. i draw. i paint. i make things. but the studio is outside and i am so cold inside my house that facing the studio is quite the opposite from inspiring. i will end up out there anyway at some point because i’m not eating food which takes up most of my day, but the point here is that the weather has me writing because eating isn’t an option.
my daughter got in trouble a couple days ago for throwing a huge tantrum. she got her computer time taken away for 2 days it was such a severe tantrum. she’s just gotten home from school and she’s throwing another fit because she has no computer time today. oh geez. it’s a bad spiral because she’s about to get punished again for throwing another tantrum. it’s hard to raise kids. anyone with kids knows that. it’s hard to punish kids. but without punishments they are tyrants. anyone who doesn;t punish their kids knows that. or at least their friends know, ha. i stop writing occasionally to give her some calm verbal reprimand. i try and point out that the fit throwing is what caused this in the first place. she is not taking it well. man, if i could just warm up a slice of deep dish pizza right now i think i might forget all my troubles….
ok. more later. it;s suppposed to be 70 tomorrow and 80 after that so good times here i come.
it’s been a long day. feels like a week wrapped up in a day for some reason.
i’m too tired to get into all the details but i can tell you of a couple highs and lows.
my son was sick since last thursday but was finally better enough to return to school today. after taking him to school i decided to work on my mosaic at work some. it was really too cold to be out there early doing that but i was already right by work and well….
yesterday when i was tiling, a group of 13 men came in and sat at the nearest table to me. i could over hear some of their conversation. it seemed as if they were there for the first time and one of them was saying we had really good trip advisor reviews. i heard them saying they were going to order 3 large major pies so when it came time to order i jumped up and suggested a deep dish as one of the pies. they ended up getting two deep dish majors and a large thin major and a couple slices of major to make sure all 13 would get enough. i found out they were at a course of some kind at the airport and i think they were all helicopter pilots and helicopter repairmen. they seemed to like the pizza and the mounted airplane out back.
today when lunch rolled around i was still there tiling and they pull up AGAIN! this time they sat inside and i told them they had to get some salad and change up the toppings and get creative. they ordered calzones and slices and salads and such…. when they were leaving i was still tiling and i yelled out,
“how was everything?”
these sort of replies were coming back to me…. they were from all over the country. one guy said
“i’m really gonna miss this joint.”
the biggest smile of the day stretched across my face. we had won over these big burly bearded helicopter repairmen. one of them was so attached he was already going to miss us. this was a highlight.
after picking up my son about 3:40, i was home close to 4pm. our pizza cook has jury duty this week and so i have been covering for him until he gets out. i had to be back at work at 5pm, so had 45 minutes to catch up with the family. yesterday it was about 7:30 before the cook made it in. but we knew today they might be finishing up the trial and i know how those juries have to come to a consensus. that last step can take a while. turns out he never did show for work or text or call and knowing this guy, i can only assume he was in there trying to pursuade all the jurors to his side, and the process was taking a while. i guess we’ll know tomorrow. but since the oven requires constant attention and i like to run around and check on the front of house and LSE, i worked one of the 3 pizza making stations. when it was slammed i stood there making pies and when it slowed up i could make a round or two. the guy on oven had a stiff neck and so he was having a hard time of it, feeling stressed and had not come to work expecting to work the oven all night. we had a burnt pie. we threw in a couple slices to make up for it and those slices looked too dark too. so i made more slices and went to apologize again to the customers. it was their first visit and they were kind folks. not upset. boy, does it make life so much easier when the customers with the messed up order are easy going. i took the burnt pizza off the bill, even though they ate most of it. i sent out a dessert too. when people are nice i just want to keep giving them stuff.
anyway, at 10pm i was finally chilling in the office, as much as one can chill with people coming in and out, lots of activity going on. i was sitting there having a slice and a beer. tired. i had essentially been at work ALL DAY and been through some other issues that were stressful not worth getting into. the tiling was nice but there were some computer problems and some other burnt things to cope with. there was a thick coat of stress around and while i normally take my pizza home i had decided to eat there and try and regain some sense of balance and was really too tired to even get up.
my phone rings. it’s one of the employees mom’s. it’s a long story why she had my cell # but anyway, she needs her daughter to call home right away. oh no. it’s never a good sign to get a call at work from a mother. it can generally only be really bad news. the employee called home and moments later was getting her things and rushing out the door. “i gotta go.” is all she said. oh geez. heartbreaking.
and then there was the large party. the salad maker was bringing out the salad with dressing on the side. the dressing fell off the salad to the floor. at that moment a customer turned from the register and stepped on the dressing container and it exploded onto another customers clothes. vinaigrette dressing all over the jacket, hat and shirt. i was in the office. servers were coming in to tell what had happened. the customer was mad. really really mad. his clothes were ruined. designer clothes. someone heard it was a thousand dollar jacket. is there such a thing? i guess there is but i’ve never seen a thousand dollar jacket. i sat there unsure of what to do. servers asked me and i said i don;t know. technically it’s not our fault but i certainly can’t offer to buy a new outfit, not if the clothes are that expensive.
a few minutes pass as i sit there pondering it all. i’m in a bit of a daze at this point. the long time employee who is still in jury duty at 10pm? i haven’t heard from him. the poor girl who had to rush out. the poor fellow who was simply irate and furious about his jacket. leather? someone thought? how does one clean olive oil and balsamic vinegar and honey from leather? people were wondering if a dry cleaner would work…
one of the other customers from the large party with the ruined jacket guy came into the office. this is a regular customer who i had been chatting with all night on and off, between making pies. he used to come in every week but moved to seattle 6 months ago and was back for a visit. he told me the story about the jacket. i asked him what i should do? he thought i should go talk to the guy. maybe offer to pay the dry cleaning bill. he said the guy was really really mad. he said the guy was saying it was the worst night of his life. i said i would come out in a minute.
i sat there trying to figure out what to do. once a customer ripped their trousers on a nail that was sticking up just a bit on a wooden bench on the porch. they said they had just bought those pants. i told them to buy some more pants and i would pay for them. i don;t remember if they came back with the trouser bill. it’s been 5 or more years ago. i thought about that. i thought about how we didn’t actually spill the dressing on the guys clothes but on the ground and then a customer stepped on the dressing to explode it onto his clothes. certainly i feel bad for what happened. obviously i am sorry that the guy is so upset. but i was unsure how far i should go to remedy the situation. i was so exhausted from my day that it was going to take all the strength i had to go apologize personally.
i went to the kitchen and cut the pie coming out for the big party. i delivered it and made a note of the guy whose jacket and shirt were hanging on the back of his chair. i could only see the top of his head and his back as i put down the pizza. i did not feel i could just randomly start to talk to this guy so i went back to the office. i thought about it more.
finally i got my big boy pants on and went back out and asked how the food was. everyone was tense. the air was thick with tension out there. they nodded and gave polite smiles. i stopped at the end of the table and said
“i’m sorry to hear about your jacket.”
the guy looked up at me. it felt like his anger had subsided a bit. he said,
“i guess there is really no one to blame for this.”
i said, “do you think it will come out? ”
he sort-of shrugged.
i said, “you can bring us the dry cleaner bill if you need to.”
he nodded and kept eating his slice. i think i set my hand gently on is back then walked away.
ups and downs. highs and lows. mosaic. happy people. satisfied people.
burnt pizzas. loads of stress. a crick in a neck. heavy family issues. ruined clothing. worst night of a guy’s life.
it was mighty cold too and at one point we were at an hour and a half wait.
who knew that the restaurant business could have so much drama in a day?
shit. the clock has turned to saturday already. here’s hoping for a good day.
it’s important to point out i live in my own bubble. i don’t watch tv so i don’t have the perspective that can bring. i’m sure if it’s cold here it must be crazy cold in other parts of the country. and actually it is a crisp and gorgeous day today. i usually do not write so early ( before 10am now) but my son has woken up feeling back to normal and the skies are so pretty and i’m feeling quite hopeful. i’ve done all the lingering dishes, i’ve made oatmeal. i’m hoping i can get out of this house and get a good long day of work in.
the auto parts store said my truck battery did take a charge so i think i’ll drive the dented pickup today. while i have not yet checked the new dryer, i feel pretty confident the clothes there are moisture free. i guess i am feeling bad about my long rant from last night. feeling like a spoiled kid who doesn’t know when to say thanks. i am actually accustomed to long stretches of good, bright, fun filled days of making art, laughing a lot, and enjoying my heavenly existence. my black coffee tastes so sweet from my favorite mug.
i’ve just been cooped up too long is the problem i think. i feel bad if i leave the sick family all day but i feel bad if i stay around the house too. i think they are better enough to fend for themselves now. fresh cold air, i’m embracing you today.
let me start by saying that i have been troubled by the excessive complaining i have been doing on this here blog. i realize that my problems are small. i realize that many people have much worse problems. but when things are going awry, when things are out of balance, how can i help but notice and comment? while i should spend my time here praising all the wonderful things happening to me, i am just not in that head space. besides, it seems that wonderful things are not reigning down on me but woes and obstacles challenge me daily. i am here to face them. i am here to overcome. i am here to persevere. if you are tired of all my bad news then stop reading right here. but if you allow a guy to vent about his silly issues then you may read on.
i have a pool that i swim laps in. i keep it heated just enough to take the chill off. i actually enjoy swimming as my form of exercise. my favorite thing is to get up early and swim…. right from the bed to the pool. i am fortunate to have this swim spa as they are called. fortunate to have the luxury of swimming laps as exercise from my home. but last week the heater stopped working. i went to get in at 5:30 one morning and the water was frigid. i waited until 11am, still too cold. the heater and pump and pool equipment is below a deck. it is a cramped 3′ space with standing water. i was down there with my 257 pound self trying to troubleshoot the heater. i spent hours and hours there. i ordered parts. i waited for parts. i replaced parts. parts did not fix the problem. i called a repair company. they are not at all familiar with my brand of heater. they made me an appointment for 2 weeks away. i called the company again. i did more troubleshooting from below the deck. i fixed a water flow issue. the water still refused to heat. i ordered an element for the heater. it is not in stock. it will be in within the next 2 weeks.
i am eager to exercise by swimming. i am not swimming or exercising. i am depressed from lack of exercise.
last thursday my son called me from the school clinic. he was not feeling good. he gave me a hard time because it took me 20 minutes to stop what i was doing to get to him. he was not happy that i had to then go to lowe’s to get something. he had the flu. he’s had it 7 days now. he’s been miserable and whining and feverish and coughing. on saturday my daughter caught it. she’s been sick since then. on saturday my wife also caught it. she’s been sick. i’ve been doing dishes, washing clothes, going to buy meds at walgreens, making food… trying to take care of 3 sick individuals. i am not good at this.
besides the piling up of dishes there is the piling up of clothes to be washed and towels and sheets. i finally started laundry a couple days ago. i went out 3 times to try and DRY the damn load. i finally realized the dryer was not working. i spent a couple days trying to fix the dryer but the dryer has been giving us problems for many years. the dryer has lots of spliced burnt wires in the back. the dryer needs more parts. the dryer is not to be trusted. the dryer was a lemon from when we first bought it, used, 10 years ago. tonight, tired of wet clothes that were washed and will not dry, i decided to buy a new dryer. i went to my pickup truck because it is easiest to transport a dryer in a truck. the truck was dead. would not start. i tried to jump the truck. it would not jump. i took out the battery and took it to an auto parts store.
our washer and dryer have moved into the greenhouse because we have recently started a remodel of the house. we are adding on a utility room and office and kids playroom. so the laundry room is now outside, but in a greenhouse. i got home after work late and could not wait another minute so i went out in the 35 degree weather to remove the plug fro the old dryer and put it on the new dryer. one of the screws stripped. i had to get vice grips. i spent an hour trying to take out a stripped screw with vice grips and install it on the new dryer in 35 degree weather tonight because i am tired of wet clothes. i am tired of the broken dryer. i am tired of the cold weather. i am tired of the truck that has a dead battery and i am tired of the pool that is too cold to swim in. i am tired of being stuck in a house with 3 sick people coughing on everything, moaning, needing things.
it has been a hard 2014. it has been either raining or cold all year. i actually will admit that i HATE cold weather. i like rain, sure, but it depresses me. and so i am not exercising and it is cold which means my restaurant is slow. no one is sitting in one of our many outside tables. the rain causes it to be slow, the cold causes it to be slow. i am stressed and anxious when it is slow because i have a lot of people on the clock. i have a lot of people counting on the job i provide to pay every bill they have. my family is sick, my truck is dead. my dryer is un-fixable because the wires keep burning up. my pool heater does not work. i find myself depressed which is an entirely new emotion for me.
the coffee maker at work stopped working. i called the coffee guy friday night but he did not want to drive from ocala saturday morning to deal with the broken machine. i was telling my son about owning a business. i told my 12 year old that if you own your own business you have to do stuff you don’t like to do all the time. i explained how i had gotten to bed past midnight friday night after work but gotten up with him at 6 saturday morning. i explained how after tending to his needs until 8 it did not make sense to go back to bed because i had to call the restaurant at 9 and talk about the coffee pot issues and some other things. i explained that even though i wanted to go back to bed i had to work. that it was my job to deal with all the problems at work no matter how tired i was. i explained that that was what it takes when you own your own business. i explained how frustrated i was that the coffee guy was complaining about coming to deal with our broken coffee pot on a saturday. i told my son that if he was to have his own business he had to do whatever it took and not complain. and then i remembered how much i myself complain here on the blog. i remembered that while i tell him how important it is to do your job and not let the customer know that it is often a pain in the ass, that i myself am often complaining about my job in a public space. it is uncool, unprofessional, and just not right. and yet here i am….
the coffee guy ended up not coming saturday because i felt bad for his troubles and so we figured out a work around. when the work around stopped working tuesday night, i went home and brought in my own coffee machine to get us through until he arrived to fix the machine today, wednesday.
just to drive home my condition i want to point out 2 more things: i have a truck i keep in the employee lot across from satchels. it is there for employees who need it to use. it is an extra vehicle i loan out. someone bashed into the side of it last week causing a huge dent in the door. it was not an employee, at least i don;t think it was. the dent is not like a car bumper hitting it and it was parked far away from employees. i later learned a kid was doing donuts in a go-cart in that lot. i think the kid ran into the door doing donuts and then just left. i have since brought the truck home because i am not fond of big dents in my truck.
#2 is that we were not properly prepared for the pine cone contest awards and the photos taken did not turn out. while this seems like a silly detail you should understand that it is a big deal to me. we post pictures of all the winners on or pine cone contest page and now i only have 2 winners pictures i can post. while this is better than zero it still upsets me more than it should and more than you will know. i like things to work right. i like to be on top of my game. i am upset when i do not have the proper equipment in place to get the proper results i expect.
so the combination of a sick family, broken pool heater, broken dryer, no pine cone pictures, a dented truck door, slow business because of ongoing cold and rain, and a broken coffee pot, these things combine to keep my spirits low. i cannot lie. i don;t know how to lie. i wish i could lie and tell you how great things are going.
i like the heat. when the hot weather returns my spirits will undoubtedly lift. i loathe complainers. i loathe myself for being the biggest complainer of the year so far. i apologize. i realize that the fact i have a heated lap swimming pool, that i can go buy a dryer, that my family is only in a temporary funk, not plagued by lifelong diseases, that my popular restaurant is slightly affected by the weather, and that my dented truck door is my “extra” vehicle for loaning out….. i realize that all this makes me a supreme asshole for complaining about. i know i should keep my computer locked down and not type a word of complaint. i know. i get it. i am spoiled past rotten. i am a jerk. there are thousands and millions of problems that put mine to shame.
but here’s the thing: i come here to write because writing is like seeing a therapist for me. to write about my problems, to vent it all out in words, is a way i unload my issues and feel better. it is how i cope. is the mechanism i have found that helps me wake up expecting tomorrow to be the day it all turns around.
because i write it out it is all behind me now. welcome to my journal. welcome to my interior rambling and rant where i tell you how my life sucks and what an idiot i am for saying so. it is meant more as a release for me than decent reading material for you. if it weren’t 20 below outside i would be in my studio painting instead of here typing out my problems…..
fixing things makes me happy. i went to lowes and i bought a dryer. the one i picked was out of stock. the floor model was the last one. it was scratched. i got it for $400 instead of $500. i came home and installed it. my clothes are in there now drying. actually, they are likely dry now. they are probably resting and warm as i type. jeans, flannels, unders, even a few towels i should not have thrown in with my clothes… all there warm and dry in that brand new scratched maytag floor model.
i have ordered the element for my pool heater. it will be here in a week or so. i feel pretty good that i can fix my own pool heater.
chris finally came and fixed the coffee pot today. the one i brought from home sits beside me on the table, ready to be plugged back on for a fresh pot of decaf tomorrow morning. the caffeine is too much for me. i wake up pretty jacked up so i need to avoid the caffeine. today i drank a few too many cups of sweet tea at davids bar-b-q and had a migraine as a result. i know by now to avoid the caffeine but i sometimes get caught up in that third or fourth glass of sweet tea.
the family will emerge from their flu soon. i somehow avoided the sickness. while they all cough on every surface and send their germs throughout the house, i have been keeping my hands extra washed and i feel fine, despite all the things i have complained about here. they seem miserable. i am physically well.
the point is that i will overcome. i must. even though i have been so far unhappy with the 2014 weather and conditions it has delivered me, i am not giving up. i am always expecting that tomorrow it will all turn the other way. it will turn towards my favor. i have a wonderful family, an incredible business, and good health. if i complain it is only to unload my demons. please understand it is only my nature to view my life from my eyes and perspective. when the ice thaws i will be the first to tell of its melting.
i have more to be thankful for than upset about and yet i go on and on about the troubles…. please understand it is the artist in me who enjoys the highs and lows. it is the roller coaster ride i elaborate on. it is the fact that i am caught up in my small world like you are caught up in yours. your problems seem huge until compared to bigger woes and mine may be small compared to yours.
ken eats gainesville thinks the food truck ameraucauna has gville’s best pizza.
i think my pizza is far better. everyone comes from and lives inside a perspective and a bias.
right after my family, my restaurant is my main obsession. i spend every day thinking about how to make it better. we currently are training new pizza makers and dough throwers and salad makers. this process makes me more anxious than anything else i do or experience. i know that every pizza and every salad cannot turn out perfect as i would want. i have too many employees to follow every one around and make sure they are doing things just as i expect. and yet we have server trainings planned, server booklets written, we teach the kitchen staff every minute detail…. and yet the place is still outside of my control. as much as i long to control every move of every person and every pie and every salad, cookie and slice of cake, i cannot. the whole thing is too big for me now. 50 employees too many to herd. and so i learn to accept imperfection. i learn to allow for mistakes. i must agree to let the beast go untamed. i tried for so many years to tame it and now i see my best effort can only keep it in the arena.
i will not allow myself to be consumed by my restaurant. (or so i say) my family must still come first. when i do finally get to work, my head swims and convulses. i see leaking calzones and crusts improperly stretched. i see salads made by students in the art. i see over cheesed and under topped pies, i see bad service, over service and under service. i see things which cause me a migraine. but when i get home, i open a bottle of wine, i have a glass. i kiss the kids goodnight. i sit and write about it all. then i sleep well. because it is all out of my complete control. i do the best to control the chaos but i am still an artist above all else.
i have been writing for far too long. i have been complaining way too much.
i hope you can forgive me. i hope you can accept my need to let out heat like the new maytag dryer vent that is warming my greenhouse on this night when the temperature dips below 32. i wish you could feel how much i detest the cold. that one feeling might help you understand all the rest of my rant…. for if you hate the cold like i do, then you and i may just understand each other quite entirely.
i always read through my posts and attempt to fix the misspelled words and edit the text to something more readable. while i don’t spend much time on the process i do like to read it over at least once, fix mistakes, and then publish. i am so tired tonight, and this post is so long, that i cannot face reading it all again now. i am going to hit publish even though i am sure to regret writing all of this tomorrow. i am going to seriously consider waiting to write again until i have a good experience to convey, a cheerful story to tell, a positive note to express.
as kahill gibran expresses through his protagonist in THE PROPHET,
Lord Jesus Christ, Have mercy on me.
i arrived at work tonight to see my GM talking seriously with a customer about something. I knew it was not good.
turns out the customer had called in a large order at 4pm. it was to be ready at 5:15pm. she arrived and the order was not ready and the ticket was found in the trash. for anyone out there who does not own a restaurant, let me tell you, this is a really bad start to a friday night. i was excited to be at work. i was ready to pump everyone up and get things done. this made no sense.
the night manager comes in at 4:30. he does not remember seeing the large order. this is something one would notice because it was about a hundred dollar order. so somewhere between 4 and 4:30 it was dropped, fell, whatever. the 2 pizza cooks there during that time know nothing.
here’s the problem. the day manager usually stays until the night manager arrives. if the day manager had been there, he would have seen the large order for 5:15 and at 4:30 he would have alerted the night manager to the order. if the order was missing, he would have been looking to find out if it was cancelled or what happened to it. but the day manager had left early and the place was being run for some amount of time without a kitchen manager.
the new policy is that if the day manager needs to leave early he is to call me in, or call the night manager in early. simple. i do not think this would have happened if this had been the case. the customer was shocked, as she should be, but understood that there had been a mistake. she got her food half off.
after that lots of things went awry. the instant water heater we use for hot tea and hot chocolate stopped working. soon later the coffee maker stopped working. these two things were in no way related. different equipment, different circuits.
the app we use at the host station went down and we could not text our guests and some names went missing. i made a pizza wrong because my eyesight is getting worse now that i am 46 and i did not look closely enough at the ticket. a piece of a calzone fell off the plate on the way to the table and then moments later a few slices fell off a pizza going to the same table. it was very busy too. cold but with folks sitting outside and trying to move inside, and really busy all the way until closing.
i know things happen. i just want to make sure we learn from mistakes and don’t repeat them. obviously having no kitchen manager for a spell turned out to be a bad idea. obviously i should WEAR my glasses to work. obviously we need to instruct the food runners how to successfully navigate the swinging kitchen doors and emphasize the need to be slow and careful. there were so many lessons to learn tonight.
but one thing kept me going and made me happy in the end. deep dish pizza. i had not eaten pizza all week. this is unusual for me. i was eating other things, leftover spaghetti and meatballs on tuesday that my mom made for my recent birthday… some leftover tofu and veggies wednesday that my wife made…. and thursday was a fasting day. what? well i am experimenting with a diet called the fast diet or 5/2 diet. i am told that by fasting 2 days a week one can lose weight, feel great, and live longer. i don’t remember ever trying a diet but i like the idea of eating my normal foods 5 days a week and fasting for 2. if it is true that this leads to some weight loss then it is the diet for me. i like to binge and purge. my fasting days are monday and thursday. it’s been a week. we’ll see if the hype is true. i could use to lose some weight and i’ve never been interested in any sort of diet. but my father-in-law is doing this one and i like that is does not restrict my normal habits on the other 5 days. also, i am allowed 600 calories on my fasting day, so a salad with some chicken for dinner is fine. we’ll see if i can keep this up.
so it’s friday and time for pizza. last week i had a cheese slice for lunch during the week but waited and made a deep dish saturday night. when i got home from work i heated one slice and it was like the best slice i had in my life. so fluffy and crunchy at the same time. i was amazed at how good it was. but then sunday i was at work on a special project and the deep dish was eaten when i returned home (by family and friends) so i’ve been wanting to re-create that experience all week. i re-heated 2 deep dish slices tonight and even brought home a new jacksonville beer we carry (I-10 IPA) to have with my pie. this was the highlight of my week so far, eating these 2 slices and having this beer. any diet that doesn’t allow for pizza and beer is not for me. i would rather be dead than miss those things together. (actually i could live without the beer but not without the pizza. they do make a nice combo though)
i was thinking about another thing today regarding the groupon thing… regardless of the loss of profit and the absurdity of discounting my products and services, the idea of groupon is to introduce new customers. we have lots of customers. new ones still come in all the time. i am not a business in need of new customers. i am not a business looking for ways to make more money. I AM PERFECTLY CONTENT WITH THE CUSTOMERS AND BUSINESS WE ALREADY HAVE> that is the take-away from my current train of thought. i am happy. i am content. i do not seek more money or more customers. i am thoroughly satisfied with how it all shakes out right now….(except for the ticket that was in the trash and the mushrooms i put on that should have been meatballs.) there are the fast food joints always trying to add something new, do something different. outback now had mini-milkshakes. really? mini-milkshakes at outback? are they trying to be more like steak n shake?
i don’t know. i like things as they are. i want to do some new murals on the building, and some new mosiacs sure, but these are just my need for expression, not because i am eager to make more money or find new customers. and strangely enough, the mosaics and murals probably do both in the end, but in a NON-GROUPON sort of way. i know they are just doing their job just like i am doing my job. but i also wish there was some way to get across to the company that i am not and will not ever be interested at all in any way shape or form. they can leave me alone. they can stop trying to get me to do a groupon. if my business slows down and i am the only guy left in the place, and i am making the pizza and the salad and washing the dishes and answering the phone and i only make 10 pizzas a day, i will just be content with that and still not be interested in a groupon. but we are busy. we are slammed. we are cash only. we do not offer pepsi and coke on the fountain. we are not near campus. we developed our own POS from scratch. we make our own sodas with real sugar every week. we own our ATM’s and give the money away. we are not the groupon type. whatever. they are a big billion dollar business and it is their job to contact me whether i am interested or not. i am over it. starting now i am over it all. i am fat, happy, and satisfied. i am going to stop talking about groupon.
but what if groupon were a company that could make sure our pizzas were always made right and never fell on the ground and tickets never fell in the trash? what if they could assure me employees would always come to work and never disrespect each other and always be nice to customers? what if they could replace my broken equipment withing minutes after it breaks? hmmm. then i might be interested in groupon.