Sunday, August 19, 2007

Lookin' For Love...

In August of 1993, I was in my fifth year as manager of a shopping mall store-front bakery. I had achieved a level of success I’d never thought possible. We had won "Store of the Year," "Manager of the Year," and sales contest after sales contest. I had assembled a group of ladies who were the crew to end all crews. Fourteen years ago, almost to the day, I was preparing to bid farewell …to that store, that crew. I worked for the company for another year, in another location, but never again achieved that measure of success and acceptance. Quite the opposite, in fact.

My girls organized a going-away party for me. With a little behind-the-scenes assistance from the dear husband, the party was held at MY house. I think they managed to surprise me…I can’t actually remember. But party we did. And they let me know, in no uncertain terms, that they appreciated me and were going to miss me. I still treasure the china cake plate and server they gave me, with its little engraved gold heart on the bottom—"Love, The Crew."

Fast forward a decade and then some. Scandinavian Festival, 2007. Three of seven of those self-same ladies manage to make it out to the festival. Just to say "hi." And we talk about getting together, soon. And, on a whim, I find another of those ladies on "My Space" and send her a message. She replies. Says she was "just thinking about" me. It does a heart good. But that was then…

Last Tuesday night was the Old Town Café employees’ summer party. It was organized by the good and faithful "D." Held at her house. Dinner and a movie. A good time was had by all.

I knew nothing about it until after the fact. I was most pointedly NOT invited.

I told myself it was because I’m just too much older than they are. I told myself I have to understand that, as the owner, I’m doomed to an entirely different relationship with my current crew than with the one I cherished fourteen years ago. I told myself that I didn’t embark on this enterprise in order to make friends.

But, goddamn…it did hurt.

I turned to my community for solace. I went to the ether, just to check in. To communicate with the only people I have considered "friends" in the past decade and then some. I wrote about my weekend, my fears, my hopes, my second thoughts.

I got two comments.

But still, I went out and about.  I visited my friends.

Mary called herself a bad blogger. Robin talked about quitting blogging, cold turkey, because her life is going in a direction where she really will not have time for it. And Cynthia mused that perhaps blogging has compromised the quality of her writing, so maybe she should quit.

I went to the well; and I found it maybe, possibly, probably…going dry.

And, goddamn…it did hurt.



  1. Nuts to them. Most of them will be gone at the end of the month anyway. I don't know about the writing. I've found that my writing is improving because of the blog. But, then I'm not really trying to write anything else. I do read, always, but sometimes I'm not sure what to write as a comment. Do know that I am thinking about you.


  2. There is a differance in being a manager and being an owner.  I know been there done that.  But you are right it does hurt.  Do they know you know?????? Maybe you should throw a Diner Summer Party............and forget to invite them! No, that is just mean LOL.

  3. I have written entries that have received zip-zero-nada comments. I long for the old days at AOl-J-Land, but that was then this is now. Several years ago we got together for a summer cook-out and invited the "boss"...when Josh didn't show, we had a great time skewing him. Then the next year (Josh was gone by then and now we had Jason) Jason showed and afterwards we had a great time skewing him after he left.....While in Ft Wayne, the boss threw the party! It was okay, a little stiff but a good effort.

  4. Hey!  Did you notice I came around to the conclusion that I would continue?  And I almost ALWAYS comment on your entries.

    Yes, it's different from the old days.  Very few comments now, very little sense of community.  It seems that most bloggers are pontificating to themselves and looking to stir the pot, and the controversy then becomes their idea of interaction.  Many of my ventures go without response -- one lady in one of my groups wrote an entry on blogging etiquette, i.e. you should make a point of responding to your commenters, but she ignores me to the point where I wonder what I said that was so offensive.

    I'm sorry that your crew is so thoughtless.  

  5. I can never remember my aol sign-in.  And yet, every time I read your posts I want to comment.  Thank you for this wake up call that tells me to get my act together and act on my impulses.  Virtual community, real community, it matters- when you're working your ass off (and you certainly are- holy shit on your proceeds at the festival this weekend and on your consistently disappointing-that's too mild a word- staffing situation) you need some love.  And blech on the party thing.  Blech.  I get why it hurts.  

    Any of those folks from the old crew interested in becoming a new crew for you?  Or is that just fanciful dreaming?

    Your in Portland, right?  I have family out there and I'd love to send them your way...  could you post a link to info about your cafe?  Or is it in your sidebar and I just didn't notice?  


  6. Oh, I know how much that had to hurt not to be invited.  Give them time.  They'll come around.  By the way, with the comments I got on that entry, I can't give up blogging.  I mean, honestly, walk away from people like you.  I can't do it.  When I was forced offline, I didn't write any better, and I did write less, which kinda blows my affecting my writing point out of the water.  It's just time to change a little again, and it won't be my template this time.  Love you, girl.

  7. I often save a blog entry with the intent of commenting later.  Time is often a factor, and collecting thoughts is most often the reason. Sometimes I do comment later, most times I don't.  If I look at the entry more than four days later, I figure that the comment won't be seen anyway.

  8. ereading---Late comments are always welcome!  We have these little things called "Comment Added Alerts" here in aol j-land.  When they are functioning properly, I always know when I've received a comment.

    Morecows--We don't have a website (yet...) We're in the outer limits of the Portland suburbs, about twenty miles north of the city.  But far enough removed from the city that my labor pool has to come from the local area.  Nobody's going to drive that far for what I can afford to pay!  And all my former employees live in places like Eugene (100 miles south), Seattle, El Paso, or Arizona.  A little too far to commute, more's the pity...

    And Robin--yes, I noticed you ultimately decided that you would stay.  But why do you have to scare me like that :)

    Lisa  :-]

  9. First Lisa, let me say, I believe that each and every employee who attended the Old Town Cafe employees' summer party lost out because they most pointedly did not invite you.

    Now, I might say that  because you were stung and I like to protect and defend my journal friends, but I'd be lying if I didn't add that I truly believe that employees should see the more human side of the employer/owner.  The side that allows more smiling and a relaxed I-don't-have-to-worry-right-now side.

    Shame on them.  But here's what VERY SMART LISA DOES:  She most pointedly has a mandatory employee meeting at the Cafe ... and turns it into a party.  With little gifts of appreciation and lots of smiling.  

    With plenty of notice, no one can claim that can't make it.  And if they don't make it, those that show will have a really good time.

    Sorry you're feeling the well has dried up in journals and blogs.  I think it's very active and alive, but now that we are four years old, we've all dropped in to a pattern of entries ... for instance ... I go strong for long periods of time and then all of a sudden I drop off for a few weeks to a month.  It's nothing in particular, it just is.  I've so often in the past thought that closing up shop was the way to go, but the truth is, the first time I visited and commented I made a committment and I can't let it go.

  10. Lookin' for love indeed.  And here I was worried that you might be lonely. Dry?  It looks to me like you have plenty of support.  People are busy.  Writing takes time, and reading and commenting sometimes more so.  I appreciate everyone who goes the extra mile to drop a line. I also appreciate that you are so often my 1 of 2...  ;D

    Being a manager is a very different thing from being an owner.  For one thing, a manager is still an employee.  As an owner you are The Man, answerable to no one, and you can't expect your employees to want you to join them in their reindeer games.  It's restrictive.  Nobody wants to party with the Big Boss.  And you're right about the age difference being a factor as well.  Outside of work, how much do you have in common with these people?  I gather not all that much.

    What are the other local business owners like?  How about joining the Chamber of Commerce?  It might be interesting to socialize with the local entrepreneurial set.  And you might do some good.  You could run for city council...ah, I can see the posts now...

    Reality beats virtual reality any day.  Or my name isn't txsguinan...  ;)

  11. Kathy—There have been gifts and parties…  It’s not that the kids are bad or mean…they’re just the employees.  And I am not.  And as far as the blogs go, when a couple of my really close friends blogged about NOT blogging, it kind of threw me for a loop…

    Gig—Of course, you are right.  They are kids.  Young enough to be MY kids. Or even grandkids, if there were a series of really strange relationships involved.  I’m just not used to being an owner yet.  Unfortunately, I have zero interest (or time, for that matter) in dealing with the “local entrepreneurial set.”  Things seem to be strangely competitive in that realm.  Anyway, I’ve never been good at playing with people my own age.  :P  Lisa  :-]