Follow Your Heart…No Matter How Crazy the Directions Might Sound!

Most parents teach their children. I learn from mine.

All of Collin’s jobs except for the current one have been in the restaurant business. He’s been a dishwasher, a busser, a server, and briefly, a crew chief. I always told him he could do better. I encouraged him–no, make that pushed him–to realize his potential. He’s very bright, but not always the best at communicating. He was, in his youth, painfully shy. Working in the three restaurants–a cafeteria and two IHOPs–has helped him to overcome that, for the most part. No, working conditions have not always been perfect, but what job is, really?

He went to college for a time, but discovered that (like his mother) he has no fondness for the classroom environment. He listened to his mother (for once!) and got out of restaurant work. It didn’t take him long to realize that in spite of being good at his new job and being able to walk to work as opposed to the ninety-minute commute to IHOP, he really missed being a server. He missed most of his co-workers and missed interacting with customers.

He wanted to go back, but kept it to himself at first.

When he finally told me, we talked about it. I told him there’s no such thing as a “dummy” job, that every job is important. Where would we be, after all, if everyone were doctors or lawyers or–God forbid–politicians?  I told him if this is what he really wants to do, he should do it. Real success comes from making a living doing what you love…whatever that happens to be. It made me think of a line from one of my favorite movies, Bruce Almighty, when God (played by Morgan Freeman) tells Bruce (Jim Carrey) that some of the happiest people in the world come home smelling to high heaven at the end of the day.

And it made me realize that I haven’t always practiced what I preach. Sure, I found the creative freedom I craved in self-publishing. I love not having deadlines. I love being able to write whatever I want. I love not having to be someone I’m not. I no longer care who gets the biggest advances or the best promotions. With age comes wisdom…sometimes. And then there are other times….

The old competitive me still rears her ugly head occasionally–when I encounter the Dark Side of self-publishing, the author so determined to be number one that he or she feels a need to trash other authors to get there. I’m quick to drag out the bestseller lists and the six-figure advances and the ads in major publications when I’m faced with an idiot on an ego trip. I turn into someone I’ve never liked very much.

Old (bad) habits die hard….

Also posted at WordPress.


When Bosses Go Too Far and the Voodoo Doll Ain’t Working….

When my close friend William’s nephew passed away a few months ago, the restaurant where he worked as a server closed for his funeral. When they reopened afterward, everyone ate free. It was a thoughtful gesture made by an employer who obviously valued their employee. Knowing this, this is a restaurant where I would dine regularly if I lived in that area. If the owners think so highly of their employees, they must also think highly of their customers.

By contrast, my son also works in a restaurant. His employers do not care about their employees. He works hard. He rarely calls in sick and he’s almost never late. He insists upon getting up at four in the morning to take three buses that get him there an hour and a half early rather than clock in ten minutes late as he would have to by taking a later bus from home. 

If it were me, I would take the later bus. I wouldn’t give them any better than they give. It’s bad enough that servers don’t even get minimum wage because employers are allowed to include the servers’ tips as part of their wages. (Whatever happened to tips being a customer’s way of rewarding good service, anyway?)

My son’s employer requires servers to find their own replacement if they want or need a day off, no matter what the reason. He actually went to work sick one day because he couldn’t find a replacement. He got to the restaurant and started vomiting…and was sent home.

If they ended up shorthanded, it was their own fault.

A few days ago, we discovered that my son’s blood pressure is dangerously high–185/111, which falls into the category of hypertensive crisis. I urged him to take a day off and see the doctor immediately. He isn’t sure his boss will allow him a day off. Won’t allow it? 

What happens if he has a stroke? If he’s unable to make calls to find a replacement, what then? I guess he’d be fired, right?

I’ve envisioned the scenario in such an event: him on a stretcher, being taken to a waiting ambulance. He’s clutching his cellphone. “Wait,” he pleads with the EMTs. “I can’t go yet!”

“You’re having a stroke, sir,” they tell him.

“I’m supposed to be at work today.”

“You’re having a  stroke, sir. You have to go to the hospital now.”

“If I don’t find someone to fill in for me, I’ll get fired!”


“Just one more call.” He enters a number. No answer. He tries another. Voicemail. Another. The person he’s called can’t do it. He has a soccer game that day.

He’s losing control of his hand. His speech is slurred. “We have to go now,” the EMTs tell him. He finally surrenders, trying to mentally calculate what his weekly unemployment checks will be….