While on the road in the past month, I’ve been eating out a lot. I love to eat out. I get to taste things we don’t cook at home and, with the advent of “small plates,” I get to sample lots of flavors.

Anyway, recently I was in Vermont visiting Noelle at her newly finished summer home. On the last night we went to a restaurant in nearby Barre. We got excellent service from an older than usual man. Noelle noticed a slight accent that had eluded me. We asked him to repeat a lot of words to see if we could pinpoint where he was from. He patiently agreed. We were inaccurate on all our guesses. Turns out he had a combination of New Jersey and eastern Massachusetts accents.

After he left our table, we tried to guess his name. Again, we were off. All the ensuing conversation lead to Noelle interviewing him about his work experience, his family, and his career moves.  We also shared with him that wait people get more tips if they discreetly touch their customers.  Lou already knew this and mentioned that I had touched him on the wrist first so HE owed ME money!

We left the restaurant feeling that we had shared more than just food and ambience. We now had a new acquaintance and a more personal relationship with a person that made the whole experience better.personalized-service-restant-waiter

On the way back to Ohio, I picked up Margy in Deerfield Massachusetts and we drove on to New York.  We stopped for the night in a motel and walked to dinner. Tracey was our wait person that evening and we started a conversation about beer. Turns out she had won a trip to Colorado for selling the most Sam Adams beer in the region! During that interview Margy and I found out she was a former high school teacher. She didn’t know about the touching and tips connection and thanked us on the way out the door for the information.

Both of these wait people were older, mature, and intelligent. It really showed. They were prompt, helpful, friendly without being intrusive, and had great people skills. They wrote down our orders instead of trying to memorize them and getting it screwed up or asking us to repeat.

I’ve had the range of experiences in restaurants with people. One spilled gravy over a new hat in a bag. I didn’t discover it until I got home. Dave and I were at a place where the entire table got served and were eating and he was still waiting. Turned out they messed up his order and started again without telling us.  I’ve had lots of experiences with mixed up orders, waiting overlong for someone to bring condiments or utensils, and even rudeness.

Waiting tables is a hard job. I’ve heard the more upscale the place, the more demanding the job and the more impatient the customer. Fortunately, upscale places have competent people who usually get big tips.

Have you ever waited tables? What is your experience? Would you ever try it? My feet and hips ache just thinking about all that time standing. I’d pity my customers because I am so clumsy and forgetful. All of my tips would go to paying for the dishes I’d break.

Perhaps cutting these folks more slack and being  more conscience of “walking in their shoes” will make me more patient.

 

 

 

 

Getting DirectionsDriving in a can of worms

Without street lights at night,

People in a car not theirs were

Laughing with all their might.

 

The streets changed names

Without reason or logic.

First you knew where you were.

Then lost! Quite trogic!

 

There must be a handier shortcut,

A much better way to Gate One.

But fog and hills cut connection.

GPS gone, this was no longer fun.

 

All roads started to look alike.

Didn’t we pass that house before?

Stop! Back up! Turn around!

There were choices galore.

 

They never went the same way twice.

They turned and twisted around.

No resident to ask help with the way.

Truly the Forest was a ghost town.

 

At last they found the fabled Gate.

Their salvation, in sight, was at hand.

The rental house was perfect but decision made:

Next time we’re not staying in Paradise Land.

 

 

 

 

 

Most students are back at school. I still can’t believe it. Starting mid August it seems kids head back with clean clothes, new backpacks, and tidy sneakers. Over the last two weeks before Labor Day, streets generally empty of kids riding their bikes.

And then the heat begins. It never seems to fail. The really hot, humid summer days start and last into mid September. Classrooms roast and those inside ruminate about how unfair life is.

I’ve completed my annual check list of three things I do every summer: one or more outdoor concert, one or more ballgame and one swim outdoors (this year I tried the community pool at Foster Pool in Lakewood).

Foster Pool Lakewood

Foster Pool Lakewood

Leaves are starting to turn colors but mostly at this time due to dryness or disease. True fall colors don’t begin around NE Ohio until later in October. There is a feeling that you’d better soak in those last rays of sun, go for that last hot summer hike or bike ride, and attend to that last fair, festival, or food truck before the holiday that ends summer.

At Lakeview Cemetery

At Lakeview Cemetery

With that in mind, we have been on our annual Take a Hike! Tour around Playhouse Square and walked  an Art Deco tour through Lakeview Cemetery. We’ve checked out a few new places to eat (Grovewood,  Luxe, and Ken Stewart’s East Bank, listened to music at the new Music Box,  and watched racers on the Cleveland Velodrome.

I’ve started to buy Octoberfest ales. I’ve noticed Halloween candy on sale at the drug store. I’m looking into the details of those friendlier season trips in September (to California) and October (New England).

When I retired the end of summer meant getting ready for a new year of teaching and fresh crop of students. I missed all that terribly for the first two years. Now my world has slowly evolved into the change of volunteer seasons. September brings the slow down of Cuyahoga Valley National Park opportunities and build up of ushering at Playhouse Square. The thought of going back to teaching gives me the jitters.

At the same time the end of summer is exciting for the start of routines and meaningful work but it means the shortening of days, the crescendo of cooler nights into frigid days and the time when we all hunker down. The end of summer is bittersweet.