Lyle's Blog

A busy fourth....Part 2

Monday, July 6, 2009

The middle of the day for me was somewhat uneventful. We spent much of our time in preparation for the evening event. I brought out all of the decorations and one of the cooks who came in early volunteered to put them out for me.

Sometime mid afternoon, I kind of hit a wall and as I was working in my office, my eyelids started getting very heavy. I put my feet up on my desk and drifted off to a quick nap. I don't know how long I slept but it could not have been very long when Jim came through the door to get something. I immediately got up and went back at it with the power nap refreshing me.

As we looked over the last minute items, Judy made a discovery. We were serving ribs with no wipes. Judy and I jumped in the car just as some of the Model A guys showed up along with some of the vets from the parade that had just finished.

We made a quick run to United Grocers to pick up the wipes and while we were there, picked up some smaller plates for the senior and kids plates. We arrived back and made ready for the mad rush that was to be expected. We stood outside talking to some of our Model A friends when we realized that it was almost time for the BBQ and there did not seem to be very many people there. I began to worry that either the word had not gotten out well enough or there was just too many things going on.

We started the BBQ and I got Judy to set up the Vets where she wanted them. I then went out and let all that I could know that the feeding frenzy was on. Even though there seemed to be not that many people there, the line soon went out through the entry way and into the parking lot.

Someone told me that Judy needed me and I went in to check on her. She had been trying to get the vet who was greeting to give out the right plates but he kept giving out the small plates to all. I quickly assessed the situation and told her to just pull all of the smaller plates. After all, it is best if they all get the bigger plates than if they get the small and think that they are cheated.

Vivian Gulley,our customer who always wants to help was working with the vets serving out the meat and was doing a bang up job there along with the Vietnam vets who were working along side her. I quickly noticed another problem that was hitting us. For some reason and the only thing that I could figure was the sheer volume of customers, we had what seemed to be a kind of knot in the flow right in the middle of the line. Customers were trying to go down the line, others who had their food were trying to come back through as the seats in the back room and deck were full, and still other vets were trying to serve drinks and assist other customers.

I walked outside to talk to Jimmy about it and he made a comment on how it seemed to be going real casual. "You are not inside, buddy, it is a mad house there.". We talked it over and decided that we needed to bring it all outdoors the next time weather permitting. As we spoke, someone told me that Judy needed me inside. As I walked in the door, I could hear a hiss coming from the waitress room. Judy showed me where the Pepsi machine had blown it's release valve. I quickly grabbed the phone and was soon talking to the emergency man from Pepsi who walked me through the pressures and felt that it would be OK to keep running until he arrived.

I walked around checking on things as I walked, talking with happy customers and backing up where ever I was needed. As I walked along the line, I noticed that the beans were soon to be out. I grabbed one of the cooks to move the beans over from the back up steamer to the line. All of this had to happen at the same knot in the middle of the line that I eluded to earlier. My thoughts went back to a cater event that we did last fall for a school in Redmond where we lost a pan of beans all over the back of the van. I worried as there were just so many people close by but managed to keep the line back as the cook moved the pan over. Relieved that we were OK, I opened the line back up and we kept on serving.

I was informed that we were working on the last pan of BBQ and people were still working their way through. When it got close, Judy shut the line down to insure that the all you can eaters got enough. I went out and talked to the band while they were on break to find out who wanted some BBQ and came back in to find just enough left to make them up a container each.

As I walked into the waitress station, I noticed Judy was cutting some pies. "Where are our waitresses?", I asked. "I have no idea.", Judy returned. We were right in the middle of the transition between BBQ, desert, and ordering off of the menu and there were no waitresses in sight. I found one of them in the cashier station and sent her back. I asked if anyone knew where the second waitress was and someone told me that she had gone over to the store. Shocked, I began looking for her and sent one of the cooks after her also. Ten minutes or so later, she casually walked into the front door eating some BBQ. I asked her if she wanted to work and she said, "Yes.". I said, 'Well, if you do, you best get out on the floor.". The scowl on my face told her that she best just not say anything and she went back to work.

Confident that all was now in order, I went back out into the lot and talked to some of the people there. Everywhere I went, all seemed to have really enjoyed the BBQ and they were now enjoying the band playing and the company around them. Richard had put together another stellar group and a friend of his who used to play for the Paul Butterfield Blues Band showed up and began to play harmonica.

Judy came out, told me that she was very tired and was heading home. She said goodnight to all and jumped in her car and left. The band soon winded down and began its break down so I went to the register to get their money ready. After paying the band and walking back in, I noticed that the waitstaff seemed frazzled. I stepped out onto the floor and noticed many dirty tables so I jumped in to help. As I began to clean, the waitresses began asking for assistance. Trying to put together desserts for them, I soon noticed others going out to the deck area. Quickly assessing the situation, I relieved the cashier and sent him out to the deck to take their orders. I knew that I could best back up others from the cashier station than the back deck.

Pies were cut, milkshakes made, Ice cream was served, and drinks were poured. As the line at the register continued to be long, a couple of women who were in the line approached the register. "I will have three ice creams.....two chocolate pies.....three glasses of glass of ice......three napkins......and oh yes, two forks and three spoons. I took it all down and told them that I would be right with them while putting the order to the side for a second. I felt that I could get the line out quickly and then get right to them. "Aren't you going to get my ice cream?", came the request. "Yes, In just a second.". One of the ladies went to the bathroom while the other told her that she was going to stay right there to make sure that they got their desserts. I smiled and kept on going. The line kept growing and the ladies kept waiting. I noticed one of the waitresses walking by and I asked her to fill my order. She quickly went back and put it together. She returned in short order but I believe that the ladies were still not impressed. I could only smile and say that I was sorry as they went out the door.

The cashier returned from the deck and I went about my job of breaking things down and cleaning up. I stepped out on the darkened deck that was still full and switched on the light. They all thanked me and everyone seemed to be having a good time. I told them all how to switch off the light when the fireworks start and assured them that they were welcome to stay on the deck during the display.

I looked over and noticed that the shade for the band was still up. I grabbed a couple of vets who were still around and quickly began to put the shades down and put them away in storage. The time now was well after nine PM and the fireworks were soon to begin up on the butte. My buddy, Zin, asked me if their was anything else that he could do for me and I let him know that he could help me finish cleaning off the tables on the deck and clean them.

As frazzled as I felt at the time, I was just about to get my pleasant surprise for the night. Like a breath of fresh air, in through the door, came Kina from Piazanos in Baker City along with two of her girls.....her "A" team as she called them. It really picked up my spirits to have her come by but I needed to keep moving so she told me that she planned to stop by on Monday before she returned to Baker. Zin walked in about that time and I introduced him to her and told her that he was helping even though he didn't work there. "Now that is a good customer.", I believe she said.

A bunch of kids came in the door and I told them that the kitchen was closed. "Can't we have some milkshakes?", they asked. I asked Kara if she wouldn't mind and she began making eight milkshakes up as quickly as possible. I told the crew that it was totally up to them if they wanted to watch the fireworks or not. I then went out and joined my friends in the Model A club for the remaining few minutes before ten. I noticed some bottle rockets going up from the middle of the group and I went over and asked the young people there to please stop or move out of the lot. They looked back from glassy drunken eyes from their three cars that they had put together in a group to seemingly block what they were doing in the middle from view.

The fireworks started and I ran inside and turned off the building lights so that all could see. I returned to claps and hoots and soon realized that much of it was thank yous for the better view that I had just given them. I settled down in my chair and enjoyed the 2009 version of the event that is a highlight of the summer. Now, usually, you will hear someone listening to the radio and hear patriotic music going along with the display but tonight, I heard two different songs playing at the same time. One of them was patriotic and the other was Michael Jackson. I heard angry words behind me as two men argued over the music that was going on. I was just flat out to tired to worry about it. I sat there nodding off as the fireworks blew off of the butte.

The fireworks were soon over and I began to work with the crew getting the last of everything cleaned up and put away. As I walked out of the door, I noticed someone from the group in the middle bringing his spent fireworks over and dumping them in my garbage out front. Now, I had place water buckets around in various places to handle this type of thing and I did not want to have a fire, so I quickly grabbed up the bag and took it over to the larger bin putting it out where if it did catch fire, it would not cause any problems. I then went around picking up the water buckets with the assistance of two of the dishwashers sons. There was a stack of crushed beer cans and empty beer bottles where the three vehicles took up their spot in the middle. I found out later that they were the Michael Jackson people also.

As I was working a young lady with a small child asked me if I was the owner and when I said yes, she said that her daughter really needed to use the bathroom. I gladly opened up the diner for them and went over and visited with Carrie and Jayden who were still around. Confident that the building was secure, I closed up and set the alarms.

Arriving home sometime around midnight, I drew myself a hot bath and soaked while I thought of the many things that I had experienced that evening. I recalled at one time that I even wondered to myself if I had bit off more than I could chew this time. I ended up falling asleep while soaking and upon waking up, dragged myself off to bed to make ready for the Sunday that was to come.

Happy Fourth of July everyone and thank you for making our Fifth Annual BBQ and Blues a great success.

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