Sunday, January 31, 2010

Lest You Think I've Fallen Off the Face of the Earth...

I have been neglecting “Coming to Terms…” again. However, I do thank all of you who gave me your email addy’s in anticipation of my taking “Terms…” private. I’ve decided not to take that drastic step, for the time being. If things should get weird again, I’ll revisit that whole issue…

I have been writing, but posting at “Women On…” (where my political commentary seems to be going over like a fart in church…) and “Hot Flash Café” (where most of my life force has been directed for the past few months…) But here is the nutshell update for anybody who’s interested:

The restaurant has been busy, so I have been either running around like a headless chicken or too tired to write anything that makes any sense. Besides being busy, we are going through more employee dramas…might be that we will experience some real crew turnover within the next couple of months.

All is not well behind the scenes at the café. We are in that space where long-term staff’s know-it-all complacency is running up against ownership’s desire to take the place to a new level. Staff is not particularly interested in going where ownership wants it to go. And is in fact planting its feet and pulling backward on the lead like a recalcitrant mule…

I hate the idea of having to indoctrinate a whole new set of employees. On the other hand, I hate having to drag my current crew kicking and screaming to the place we need them to be. It might just be a whole lot easier to start with a completely clean slate. I am torn between clinging desperately to the devil I know and taking the chance on throwing that demon over for…whatever else is out there. It would be just my luck that the “whatever else” would turn out to be infinitely worse than what I’m currently trying to manipulate. In the end, the choice will probably be taken out of my hands. The attrition has already begun, with the exodus of Flaky Cook and the impending exit of the Good and Faithful “D.”

To complicate matters further, business has been entirely wonky. We’re either empty or swamped, no in-between, and no predicting when or how. Mondays are improving, Mondays suck. Senior Night is crazy, Senior Night is tailing off. Fridays stink, Fridays rock. No rhyme or reason whatsoever. My crew of eight (and myself) were exhausted after our record December. But as soon as I made up my mind to post an ad and bring on more help, sales tanked. Called a halt to the hiring binge, and sales cranked back up to record levels.

As my mom used to say, “I can’t win for losing.”

And then there is the “small-town economy” dynamic with which we have been contending since Day 1. We have learned a lot about which conditions will spell success and which will spell disaster for those of us in the business of vying for the limited dining out dollars within our isolated little market. We keep tabs on the comings and goings of other eating establishments as vigilantly as a cat at a mouse hole. The demise of three local competitors in the fourth quarter of last year has been responsible for our current rosy numbers. One could almost believe there is a light at the end of the tunnel, if things could just stay this way. If no other fool would decide to muck up the water by dipping their ignorant and ill-conceived oars into it.

But then we get word that a new strip mall is slated for construction up the road a piece. And that a big-but-as-yet-unnamed restaurant will be going in. Which causes me to ponder an exit strategy, about which I morosely post over at the Hot Flash Café.

So my life is, still and forever, a roller coaster. Which I’m afraid might be starting to wear me down. But, just when I think I’ve had it, I get my second (third, fourth, hundredth) wind, and I go back at it with a vengeance.

Can’t live with it, can’t shoot it, I guess…

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

2009: Blog Year-at-a-Glance

It weighs heavily on me that I have written nothing here for three weeks. No jolly holiday entries, no 2009 epilog entries, no political exhortations…not even a rant about the restaurant. My only excuse is that we did record sales at the café in the month of December, and dealing with that while trying to carve out some kind of personal holiday season left me with little energy for much of anything else. And then, on New Years’ Day, I came down with The Crud (a term coined by one of my former bosses, which referred to the nasty winter cold/flu/whatever to which we managers usually succumbed sometime during or after the holidays—no doubt brought on by the stress and long hours thereof…)

Feeling a bit better this morning, I sat down to write my traditional “year at a glance” New Year’s entry—the one where I take the first sentence from the first post of every month as the story of my year. But I realized that my schizophrenic opening, closing and re-opening of Coming to Terms left me with two months of 2009 where I did not post at all. So, because I want to do this anyway and I want to quit kicking myself for neglecting my writing, I’ve decided to use posts from Hot Flash Café and Women On to fill in for the months when Terms lay dormant. It’s all my writing, right?

So—here it is:

January--I set about the task of de-Christmasifying the house when I got home from work today. (Posted January 10th… I’m right on schedule—haven’t touched any of it yet this year. Planning that for…later.)

February--It's true…I stopped publicly adding to "Coming to Terms…" (And then started, and then stopped, and started again…)

March—(From Hot Flash Café)-- Yesterday, one of my employees whispered to me that she’d “heard on the grapevine” that one of our competitors has not paid their rent in four months. (A hint of the scary prevailing climate in the small business world…)

April--I finally have things arranged so that I don’t have to tote a computer back and forth to work. (…so that I can walk to work. Which I have done exactly once in the ensuing nine months. Go me!)

May—(From Women On…) Here is a headline that really disturbed me: Churchgoers More Likely to Back Torture. (And I did try to keep my political wits about me…)

June--I know...I said I was closing down this journal... But someone, awhile ago, wondered what had become of the stray cats I had written about. (Oh, yeah…that on again, off again thing...sneaking up to being on again...)

July--If it seems that I am neglecting my blogging, please forgive me. I have been spending inordinate amounts of time online…but I’ve been attending to other things. (Off again?)

August—This has been a hard week. (Aren’t they all? But that which does not kill us makes us stronger…)

September--Coming To Terms is coming up on its sixth birthday. Six years. Wow. (That fact alone made me realize I couldn’t close it down…)

October--An amorphous sense of discontent has plagued me lately. (Likely chafing against the economy-spawned sense of spinning my wheels this entire year…)

November--I grew up in Estrogen Central. (A little rant about the trials and pitfalls of inducting a male into the heretofore estrogen-heavy crew of the “Hot Flash Cafe…”)

December--It's not escaped my notice that I tend to head right for the keyboard when I'm stressed, unhappy or overwhelmed. (No…duh?)

2009 was…a year. A year that I realized, on my walk to the mailbox after work today, was not all that bad. Only a few minor traumas, and some really good memories. And in spite of the economy, the Café held its own, with only one or two small panic attacks along the way.

So, Happy New Year, Everyone! May 2010 bring each of us a little peace, a little calm, and one or two of our heart’s desires, large or small.

Lisa :-]