Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Tour of Duty

Originally Published September, 19th, 2012

My Tour of Duty is over.
I enlisted at the age of 28.
And there were a lot of struggles along the way.
Being woken up at odd hours of the day and night.  Not much sleep early on.
You take naps when you can.  Sneak in a few minutes here and there.
I learned to clear my mind and doze off quick, before I was called on again.

There were messes that needed to be cleaned.  I got used to a lot of unusual smells.
My clothes were always decorated with something new.
Mostly the shoulders.  But sometimes I got the full treatment.
Front, then back.
Top, then bottom.
I learned to do a lot of laundry.  Fold it neatly, then repeat.

After 3 months the bottles came out.  We were going through five or more a day.
It was really bothersome.  But after about nine months of hitting the bottles I was weaned off them.
But by that time, I had to watch out for projectiles and airborne attacks.
Always something to keep you on your toes.

I was on the floor a lot that first year.  Rolling balls.  Fighting off animals.
And using strange electronic devices that lit up and made noise.
This was at least a little time to rest.  But then I would be up on my feet going full tilt.
This was a repeating pattern.

As the next couple years progressed, I was given more difficult tasks and heavier responsibilities.
I was chasing things and barking orders.  Most of which were ignored.
I got that authoritative voice that those in command positions get.
That voice was ignored less.  But I found myself still repeating things.
I also found I could understand more.

 The third and fourth years came with some breaks.  But I had to do something to keep me sharp.
So I worked a more at the other job I had gotten after the first  year was over.
I tended bar at a local restaurant.  Met a lot of nice people and have been having fun ever since.

When my first Tour was almost over, my wife and I decided to enlist me again.
Realizing that this came with a partial demotion from my previous position.
But I still had reservist duties from the first tour.

I was again woken up at odd hours.  Getting through my day with less sleep.
Sneaking naps when I could.
Cleaning messes.  Some familiar, and some new.
And some had me wondering what went on when I wasn't there.
Even more laundry than before. Repeat.  Repeat.  Repeat.

Back down on the floor I went.  That's where the job had me.
Out come the balls, new animals, electronic devices, lights and noise.
I was familiar with it all, so I was more relaxed about it all.
Everything became a little easier to do.

Then the running around.  Chasing and being chased.
Having to find the things that went missing and  cleaning more messes than before.
I found my authoritative voice again and used as needed.

The reservist duties from my first tour took me to an educational establishment.
I got in touch with the faculty there and took an interest in what they were doing.
That got me invited back to help when needed.
Sometimes I wish I hadn't. Ha ha.

The third and fourth years of the second tour were only slightly different than the first tour.
I had a few more breaks, but my reservist duties took that time and used it.
I got more involved with the educational establishment and found things to do for them.
This I will continue for years to come.

But now, at 38, I am on full reservist duties.
Now this doesn't really mean that I am part-time by any means.
It just means that I have more time for an outside job.  Bring a little more money into the house.
And I will still be there in the afternoon and evenings.  Every weekend.  Every night.

I will watch my kids grow tall.
Go in and out of every stage of their lives.
Deal with heartache and triumph.
Expand their knowledge.
Then find what they want to do and leave the nest.

I can only hope that they also want to sign up for at least one Tour of Duty.
No matter what form it takes.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Healthy Eating

When is healthy eating too much?

It might be when you go for the whole thing instead of a single serving.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The McDonalds That Was

Here I am.  Sitting in the newly renovated McDonalds near my home.
It looks very up to date and slick.  Almost sterile.
There are some nice seating choices.  But I am going to miss the fish tanks.
The fountain area is the same.  Good.  Didn't need anything changed there.
The front counter is a little different.  Missing a register.  Not looking forward to coming here during a rush.
Now there is a computer screen that flashes your order number on it when ready.  I feel like cattle.

On to the table.  My kids picked out a nice one in the play area.
I had them move to one that would seat everyone.
lots more seating in here now.
But the play equipment is half the size it used to be.  Just asking for "incidents".
But, I admit.  Nowhere to hide now.  You will get caught.

My 6yr old was here last week.  He told me about the great new touch-screen computers they could play on.
One is already out of order.
I took a closer look.  I was expecting coloring pages.  Learning letters.  Fun with Elmo, or some other character.  Just some fun programs for kids.
It looks like one of the screens I have seen in many bars in the area.
Skill games.  Puzzles.  Etc....   The only difference is, you don't need quarters.
I. Am. Not. Amused.

There are also a lot of kids around.  I don't see any parents.
There are two tables of girls.  They range in age from 5 to 10.
No adults near them.
There are three boys playing on the computers.  With a little girl of about three, crawling on the counter where the monitors are.
Again.  No adults.
Four or five kids running around the play area.  Only one adult near them.

At this moment, my brother (D) noticed a young girl crying in the equipment.
He called over to the one adult near to draw their attention to it.
She put down her phone and thanked him.  Then yelled for them to come down.
We saw her talk to the two kids and send them back to play.
After this, D wandered over to her and struck up a conversation.
Apparently, she drove all the kids here in a stretched van from a Day Care in the area.
We saw the van in the lot.  With the business' name in bright red letters across the side.

She explained that it was only her, with 12 kids to watch.
When D came back over and told me this, I was shocked.
I have put my kids in Day Care/preschool at different times.
I even looked at Day Care for infants when our daughter was born.
The ratio of adults to kids is always higher than 1:12
And to bring them to a public place like this with only one?

Maybe I am way out of line.  Maybe that is all they need.
But obviously, if you don't know that one of the kids you are watching is hurt, something is off.
But then my brother told me what I think is the worst part of all.
When he went to talk to the woman, and then after he walked away.
That whole time.
She was watching a movie on her phone.

I reported it.
I sent a message to the State of Missouri.
I put my name on it.
Let them call me.
Maybe nothing will come of it.

But at least I did something.
And I will tell everyone who asks.
That there is at least ONE day care, that I would never send a child to.

Monday, January 7, 2013


What is perception?
It is how we see things. And the context we put it into.
I will give you an example that happened today at work.

Now to start this off, I will tell you that I work at a restaurant.
I am a Bartender, and I am also a Server.

This morning, I was behind the bar.  Making drinks and hoping that business would pick up.
Meaning, more people got hungry.
Now, every now and then on a nice Sunday morning, one of the corporate employees of our establishment will come in and eat.  It is always nice to see them and we try very hard to make their meal perfect.

On this day, our Supervisor came in.  This is someone who needs to make sure we are doing our jobs correctly, so that the business makes money and we all continue to have jobs.
We will call him Bob.
Bob came in with his wife to eat a nice peaceful lunch.  We will call her Karen.

Bob and Karen sat at the bar.  We started talking. (it's always fun to talk to them. And they are usually interested in what I say. (rare))
They both ordered drinks and an appetizer.
Then they ordered their lunch. A burger for Karen, and a chicken sandwich for Bob, both with french fries.

While this is happening, a regular guest came in and sat at a table a little away from the bar. (Nancy)
I said "Hi Nancy", and rang in her usual order of chicken wings and a beer.
I got her beer to her, and talked to her while waiting on Bob and Karen's order to be ready.

Time moved on.  The orders came out as requested.
Everyone ate.
Bob and Nancy noticed that the "Medium" temperature burger they ordered was "Med-Rare" on one side, and "Well-Done" on the other.
Bob, being one of the guys in charge, asked me to bring this to the attention of a manager.  I did.

A little while later, that manager (Frank) came over and asked if Bob was done with his plate.
Bob said "Yes, but take a look at this.  These fries are not right.  They are overcooked and came out almost cold." And while he is saying this, is holding a french fry in his hand and waving it towards my  manager.
Now this was not done in a negative way.  Bob just likes to talk with his hands.  And one was holding a fry.

This is where perception comes in.

Nancy, cannot hear what is being said, but she sees this conversation unfold.  She watches as Bob waves a fry at Frank. And Frank just nodding and letting Bob do this.
Nancy starts to get upset.  She comes in to our location not just for the food, but because of the people.  She has grown fond of us and we take care of her.

I wonder what would have happened if she had gotten up and given Bob a piece of her mind.
After Bob left, she told me what she saw and her feelings towards it.  I let her finish explaining.
Then I told her who Bob was and what he said to Frank.

She turned almost beet red.  She told me that she would have been embarrassed and felt bad for doing it.
I replied that Bob would have probably listened to everything she said.  Then explained who he was and what he was telling Frank.  Then thanked her for being concerned, and sticking up for the staff the way she did.

This is what perception is.  Seeing only part of the whole.
Her perception was that this guy off the street was complaining about the food and putting down the employees.

Another reason to get all the facts before you act.