The business of doing business

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I have a very large, very dead pine tree looming over my driveway and threatening the safety of my home and my new car.   It has been dead for several years but each day when I drive in my driveway, I convince myself that it is leaning closer to my house than it was the previous day.  It was time to call in the professionals.

I found four local companies that offer tree removal services as well as free estimates.  All four came to my house and gave me a wide range of quotes for different ways that the tree could be felled and cleared.  The company I chose to do the job was the best fit in terms of safely felling the tree with the right equipment and not charging me a fortune to move the pieces off to the side of my driveway.  I thanked the other companies for their quotes and let them know I went with a different service.

Two of the other three were understanding.  One was not.  After I told him I would be happy to pass on his information to others looking for his services, I received a text message from Brian and this is what it said, “Well thank you Susan.  No need to pass my name around since you have not experienced the level of service we provide.  In future, I would respectfully suggest you exhaust your cheaper options before calling someone that spends their time and fuel to look at your work.  Good luck with your tree and hopefully the damage will be minimal.”

WTF???

To say that I was angered would be a gross understatement.   I had to hold myself back from responding with the words that were churning in my head.   Instead, I politely explained that I had chosen a company with a similar rate but a better option for me and the safety of my oak tree since Brian was going to strap the dead tree and pull it down so it would come into direct contact with my 100-year-old oak tree.  (But he assured me the oak tree would be fine!)

What I should have texted was this, “Well, thank YOU Brian.  I will certainly be passing your name around now, just not in the way I had expected since I now understand the level of service you provide.  I respectfully suggest that you not offer free estimates if you are going to whine about the time and fuel you spent doing something you advertise as free and act like an asshole when you don’t get the job.”

Adults say the darndest things

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I had it made as a kid.  My parents were co-owners of a coin laundry, a bakery and then a Sub shop that also served ice cream.  There were a few arcade games in the sub shop and Defender and Asteroids ate many of the quarters that were once my allowance.  I was the living version of a kid in a candy store.

My dad also sold real estate during the same time period, so to say he had many irons in the fire is a gross understatement.  His office was located conveniently up the street from the sub shop so I would bounce back and forth from each business and soon became a runner for the agent’s ice cream requests.  I will never forget Ken Robinson.  He was in his seventies, had white hair like Santa Claus and a severe penchant for mint chocolate chip ice cream.  He and I became quick friends once I learned that he shared the same love for that minty, chocolate deliciousness as I did.

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Every day, Ken would hand me his money and I would gladly run down the street to retrieve his afternoon treat.  I ran in to the office one hot summer day to find Ken’s desk unattended.  I asked the secretary where he was and she could not look me in the eye.  Instead, I was told to talk to my father.  Ken had died of a heart attack the night before.  I was devastated.  Ken had been the first person I had known who had died.  After many days of tears and avoiding the office, I finally gathered the courage to go back.  Carl was there with his ill-fitting sport coat and bad seventies mustache.  I will never forget how nonchalant he was when he spoke to the 11-year old me and said, “You musta killed him with all that mint chocolate chip ice cream.”

I carried that burden with me to Ken’s funeral and for many years after.   We went to the service as a family and I can still remember the dress I wore.  We paid our respects to his family and approached his open casket.  I was terrified that Ken’s wax-like body was going to sit upright, point at me at scream, “you did this to me”.   I could barely breathe.

Now, as an adult, I still have difficulties at open-casket funerals.  The logical side of my brain assures me that a deceased body cannot move, but the young girl and the writer in me still have that nagging doubt.

I can only hope that Carl eventually outgrew his horrendous mustache (and Herb Tarlek wardrobe) and learned to think before he spewed any further erroneous judgement on young, impressionable minds.  Either that or he has had ten children and countless grandchildren of his own and Karma has finally paid him a visit!

The Church of the Fish

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Times have certainly changed.   When I began my career in the hospitality industry, food allergies were not even a blip on the culinary radar.  The kitchen was, for a Chef, a playground with no rules.   But all of that has changed.

These days, I make a point of asking each person making a reservation at the lodge if anyone in the family has any food allergies or food restrictions that we should be made aware of before their arrival.  The answers always weigh more heavily on the ‘yes’ than the ‘no’.  And although some of the guidelines we are made to adhere to are more preference than necessity, the kitchen now has to deal with a list of these instructions for each week of our summer season.

Now, while I completely comprehend the severity of an ingested or inhaled allergic reaction to a food, it does not negate the fact that I am more than moderately amused by the inability of our Sous Chef to pronounce one of the more prevalent choices in the current realm of dietary options.  A Pescatarian is a person who does not eat meat but will eat fish.  And each time I have the opportunity to add that choice to our “allergy” list for the week, my smile cannot be missed.   As I walk into the kitchen with that list, I calmly await the moment that she will read the list aloud and say the word “Pescabyterian”.

church of the loaves and fishes

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According to Karina, somewhere there is a church for vegetarians who occasionally eat fish.  And that latest hotel guest, that new addition to our list of dietary anomalies, is a member of its congregation.  Each time she reads the list aloud, the words Pescatarian and Presbyterian become intertwined and I am reduced to a public school version of myself, unintentionally (not really) laughing at the combination of the two expressions.

Pescabyterian – a member of the religion of vegetarians who consciously choose to eat fish.

It may be juvenile, but this marriage of words helps alleviate some of the stress in our summer.  It gives us the freedom to laugh at the increased amount of tension in an already volatile environment.  And it allows a break for laughter in a scene that is meant more for drama, creating an oasis of calm in a sea of chaos.

One simple word, whether Webster chooses to recognize it or not, has the power to change the trajectory of our day.   Let’s hear it for the Pescabyterians!

The rain from my heart

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teardrop

A single drop,

a salty tear,

lingers in the corner of my eye,

tentative at first,

until the relief comes

from letting go of the emotion

I’ve held so close to my heart.

One drop follows the contour of my cheek,

marking the path for others to follow.

I feel solace in that line of emotion.

I trace it with my finger

as countless tears fall in succession,

trailing the first,

releasing my imprisoned worry.

Only the silence hears me cry,

and when my tears have all but gone,

the clouds over my heart are lifted,

and my rain has washed away my unease.

 

Are you there, blog? It’s me, Susan.

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Frenetic pace aside, the last few weeks have been draining.  It’s a good problem to have when your resort is so busy that you cannot find the right moment to take a day off.  But it is a bad problem, personally, when you cannot find the right moment to take a day off.

For anyone in the seasonal hospitality business, the start of the school year is a dreaded reality.  The summer staff are solely focused on Frosh Week and moving into residence while I am busily focused on the treads of my new running shoes, hoping that they will carry me through until Thanksgiving.  And while I am intent on putting forth 100% to make everything at work a glowing success, my personal accomplishments become non-existent.

mower

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But the past two and a half days have been, thankfully, concentrated entirely on my needs.   I slowly morphed back into all of the roles I had been ignoring and gained some of my life back.  My lawnmower is fixed and the ridiculously long grass has been cut.  Order has been restored to my life and all of the menial jobs I had been unable to accomplish have been triumphantly completed.  I am currently sitting back with a glass of red wine, happy with the amount of tasks I have been able to complete over the last two days.

Now it is time to get some balance back in my life.  It’s time to allow the words to become more of a focus than the numbers – the number of people at the lodge, the number of meals I serve and the number of steps I complete in a day.  It’s time to get back to the things that feed my soul and not my punch card.

Are you there, blog?  I’m back….and I’ve missed you.

 

What is THIS lovely fragrance?

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There was no sweetness.  There were no flowers.  And the only thing that was stolen was my breath.   What began as a restful few hours between a long day and an abbreviated sleep turned into a rolling profusion of expletives followed by a few moments to regain my sense of composure.

On any other occasion, these moments could have been used to describe a much more pleasurable evening.  What really happened will live in my mind, and my nasal cavity, for years to come.

It was a routine outing.   Callaway never strays far from the house for her late night relief before bedtime so I didn’t think twice about opening the door to let her out.   But I certainly thought twice about opening the door to let her in when the pungent stench of skunk met the sensory cells of my nose.  She looked extremely pleased with herself and I’m certain she sensed that I was not so pleased.

I scoured the cupboards for the age-old remedy of tomato juice but came up empty-handed.  I glanced at the clock and it read 10:30 pm, so a trip to the local, small town grocery store was out of the question.  I then relied on the only endless source of information I had readily available – Facebook.

As much as I have expounded in great detail about this social media icon being a complete mind sucking website – it became my lifeline and my hero.   After a bath of Hydrogen Peroxide, baking soda and dish soap, the putrid odor dissipated to the point that I could tolerate her and allow my dog to come inside.   Since I would never leave her out at night, I wrapped her in blankets to help her dry off and put her to bed.

callaway

The “lovely fragrance” still lingers on my dog and in my house.  And I’m sure it will be a phantom smell that follows me for months.  But I have since forgiven her for the reminder that she is more canine than human, and she has forgiven me for forgetting that she is a dog and that she will continue to behave as a dog.   Lessons learned…..and from now on, we walk together….Callaway on a leash, and me with a flashlight looking for any eyes in my peripheral that may pose an olfactory threat!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ll have what she’s having….

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I have several friends who suffer from chronic pain.  Some have a mildly annoying dull ache that never goes away and some are almost immobilized by debilitating pain.  My dog recently became a victim of that chronic pain but, unlike my friends, she had no voice to tell me how uncomfortable she had been until it was alarmingly noticeable.

If you read my most recent blog post, you’ll know that I took Callaway in to the vet on Tuesday and the vet prescribed an anti-inflammatory with a mild pain-killer.  After one dose and about six hours, she was a brand new dog.  She regained some of her youthfulness and we seemed to move the clock back by four years.

I immediately became jealous of my dog’s new vitality and joie de vivre.  I told the vet I would call the day after her appointment to report how she was doing on the medication and my first sentence began with “I don’t know what is in that Meloxicam, but I want some”.

what-shes-having

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But as much as I feel the oncoming burdens of aging, I consider myself very lucky that I have not fallen victim to the same incessant pain that my friends must bear.  It seems so unfair that the people who are able to voice their symptoms still suffer the same torment from their chronic pain, try prescription after prescription, and feel no relief at all.

I can only hope that each of you will eventually find your Meloxicam and enjoy the freedom of movement that so many of us take for granted each day.