Sunday, April 10, 2016

two incredible souls

I got a job in Huntsville April of last year.  My home is an hour and a half away from that job.  I had been spending a little over three hours drive time to and from that job month after month until Rick and Beckie graciously invited me into their home.  They were insistent about me treating their home as my home and not act as a guest.  They really meant it. They made me feel like family, and I still feel like they are indeed family.

I had to quit my job at Virginia College due to my health.  I haven't been back up there since I fell ill. My clothes are still hanging in Rick and Beckie's closet.  I've got to get back up there and pick up the gear I left behind. They said that it's not in their way, that there's no hurry.  I know that even when my stuff is gone, a part of me will remain. My mind regularly wanders northward of here, what's happening at school, what's happening at my other home.

I'll miss that big marble table, heated by the space heater, that we all seemed to draw toward at the end of every day.  It seems the heart of their home.  Every night Captain Kangaroo' (their long-legged cat) would be drawn to Beckie's lap.  Rick would often light up his pipe and we'd drift into deep conversations for hours on end.  I will miss those talks about music, life and God.

Life is all about change. You never know when change will take place, but we must be willing to roll with each day.  I know a good season is behind me.  The experience was hard but pleasant.  I'll move on with this change, let go of what is now over, but not my love for these two incredible souls.  We will see each other, but not as much as before.  I love you two. 
I was blessed to be welcomed into your family.  I am blessed to have had you in my life.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

My Chick-fil-A Daze

I never had a Chick-fil-A sandwich before I got the job at Chick-fil-A.  Maybe it's because, in those days, I rarely went to the mall.  I went to the mall one day back in 1984 looking for a job.  I went from one end to the other filling out applications with little luck  I didn't even think of Chick-fil-A.  In fact, I had called it quits and was on my way out of the Gadsden Mall to go home.

Then, I heard someone call my name.  When I looked to my right, I saw this bright eyed girl smiling and waving at me from behind the counter of that chicken joint.  I knew that I had seen her at Christian Brothers Coffeehouse, but couldn't remember her name.  I met countless people through Christian Brothers as a host, people would know my name but unfortunately, I couldn't remember all of their names.  She was one of them.   I replied with a "Hi!" and walked over to her.  The conversation was brief.  She asked me what I was up to.  I told her that I had been looking for a job.  "Would you like to work here",  "Sure, that would be great!", I replied.  She said, "Give me a minute and let me go up and talk to Steve real quick." I still didn't know her name and was feeling sort of embarrassed that I couldn't recall it.  I was relieved when the manager, Steve Plimpton, came down and gave me both her name and the job I needed.  He said something like "Gina tells me you'd like to join our team, and if Gina recommends you, I'll hire you."

Her name is Gina.

I started on a very busy Friday night.  Back in those days, it seemed like every person in Etowah County was at the Gadsden Mall - they probably were.  It was even crowded behind the counter with all the staff in those narrow work spaces.  Associates behind every register with a couple of people on the board filling the orders. The kitchen was just as busy.  It was so busy that first night that I felt very much in the way.  I was given the task of cleaning restrooms, filling the ice chests up front from the ice maker in the kitchen.  I squeezed a ton of lemons and was taught how to make that incredible Chick-fil-A lemonade.  People would put me on task and then leave me to figure things out.

I always looked forward to working with that girl Gina.  She pretty much trained me in the ways of Chick-fil-A.  I saw that she was very friendly and patient person.  She was a hard worker.  She was a very honest person.  Of course I took interest, but didn't say anything.  She was involved in someone else at the time.  Gina eventually got a job at Eckerd Drug, not the one next door, but the one in Alabama City.  I didn't see her as much after she left.

I guess I worked at Chick-fil-A for about a year of my life.  I hustled at that job.  If I didn't have something to do, I'd find something to do.  It was overall a good experience. The fun times were closing up shop, when the mall was empty and a few of the associates would lock ourselves in to break it all down and clean up.  I met Jerry Connell while working for Chick-fil-A.  I especially enjoyed closing with Jerry.  He'd clean the kitchen and I'd clean the front. We enjoyed each others sense of humor and laughed and laughed as we worked. We'd often hit a movie if we finished up on time. We are still dear friends today.

One day that girl Gina dropped by Chick-fil-A.  She asked me how the job was doing and I said "okay".  I could do with a change.  She asked me if I'd be interested in working at Eckerds.  Well, it worked out great the first time she asked me if I wanted a job. Once again, I was learning a new job with that pretty girl teaching me the ropes again.  It took me a while to express my interest in her.  I waited a while after she became un-involved with that guy.  She never seemed in need of a date. 


Eventually we'd venture out after work as a group of friends to eat or see a movie. Eventually, I asked her to go to a movie by ourselves.  Eventually she became my girl - and eventually my wife.