I was desperately homesick in Chattanooga. I was also a bit tense. Too many days, too many miles, and too many douchebags were separating me from my brick and vinyl bastion of serenity. I was depleted, raped, and pillaged by the Huns of Revenue Generation. I missed my humble castle, humbly nestled near the lazy rolling, and humble, mocha brown waters of the Conewango Creek. My refuge filled with the soothing sounds, comforting smells, and the magical aura that are the inspiration for the perspiration of my daily toil; my cubs, my queen, and my trusty hound.
My soul was left abused and emptied because I continued to attend useless and needless gatherings of people who refuse to even attempt to hear my testimony with regard to the marvelous merchandise my employer can provide to safely transfer dry bulk and hazardous liquid bulk media in a safe and environmentally responsible manner. No matter what is offered, only more is wanted. The privileges that accompany a transaction with my beloved employer are rarely considered or appreciated. Even more hurtful, most of these blood-sucking, life-sucking fiends only see me as a part of a process, they never appreciate how splendidly awesome I am as a human. They have no idea that I’ve kissed at least three homecoming queens, or that I have over 60 t-shirts from restaurants & pubs & such. They would never guess that I own like 7 guitars, or that my wife agreed to go out with me when she was at the apex of her hotness. They never so much as ponder the fact that in the spring of 1979 I punched a jag-off McDonald’s manager through the drive-thru window because he was sexually harassing some friends of mine (this was before Clarence Thomas was appointed, so the term “sexual harassment” wasn’t even recognized by the mainstream yet, so yes, if you’re thinking that my chivalrous sock in the nose was ahead of its time, you’re right).
Only a few people from my day job know any of this stuff about me; mostly they just think of me as a sales dude. They don’t want to know The Large Man, they just want to know cheaper prices and faster deliveries; they only want to know The Large Servant. I’m sure most of you are getting the Bruce Wayne/Batman vibe right now, and you wouldn’t be far off; it’s probably the closest analogy. I just don’t have a utility belt, a butler, a lot of money, and I’m in poor physical shape; otherwise, it’s like we’re twins.
So with this entry in my humble little blog being the exception; I usually just suffer in silence. Sometimes I feel like I’m standing outside of my body and I watch with sadness as tiny bits of my soul are broken away by the hammer and chisel of commerce. I quietly cry for the battered “little boy” heart that lies deep within this “grown up” man; this grown up man who just wants to be loved and respected for who he is, and what he stands for.
How do you repair the injuries that are left behind by this kind of assault? What emotional or spiritual salve can be applied to these wounds that leave no mark, yet scar so deeply and permanently? How does one make oneself whole again?
Well I don’t know what other people do, but I go out and find a funky little semi-regional pizza chain that has over 30 varieties of micro brewed beers on tap. I try to sit at a table that faces the main entrance (Batman precaution) in the section being looked after by a hot waitress who knows what the hell she’s talking about, and I say F**** IT! I tell myself, “It’s only a day job! That ain’t who you are, dude!!” I remind myself that I have a buttload of cool t-shirts, and that I’ve kissed a bunch homecoming queens. My wife is still smoking hot, my kids are cool, I have a kickass amphibious assault hound, and a 2003, ice blue, Buick Le Sabre that can take me anywhere I want to go, AND… I can stuff that beautiful ride full of guitars if I want. I’m Batman!
And then things get a little bit better.
If you know how to talk to yourself in a positive way, and if you are willing to do a little environmental modification, you can turn any bad day into a great day. I call this, “The Large Man’s Positive Self Talk and Environmental Modification Exercise”, or “TLMPSTaEME”.
Now, you need a little help, because waitresses like Jackie, the pro I found that particular evening, don’t just grow on trees; but they’re out there, and they make all the difference in the world. You have to be willing to accept their help, and you have to be willing to move on if your first perch doesn’t suit you.
The “first perch” of my evening suited just fine. I was greeted by a kiss of cold and dehumidified air as I walked out of the damp and oppressive Tennessee heat and in through the double glass doors of The Mellow Mushroom. The aromas of baking parmesan cheese, freshly sliced cucumbers, and craft brewed beers gave me a hug to accompany the air conditioner’s sweet and comforting kiss. The pretty girls at the hostess stand created a nice vibe as they greeted me with their youthful smiles and led me to my table.
And then Jackie showed up…
When you get a waitress like Jackie, about 2 or 3 minutes into the relationship you realize that the job title of “waitress” doesn’t really fit here; waitresses work at Bob Evan’s, Jackie is more like a tour guide on a cruise ship, or a camp counselor. She’s like that kid in your neighborhood who had all the cool toys, and was always willing to share them with you. As I sat in that manmade cool air and watched this Bohemian styled woman walk towards my table, before she even said “Hi”, just by her style, smile, and walk; I knew she was bringing the fun. The inspiration that I needed to shake off this crappy day was now standing in front of me, my mood just became her responsibility, and this confident server of “fun” had no fear.
She asked me how I was doing in an accent that sounded more like Iowa than Tennessee, but that light raspy voice delivered through the charming and slightly mischievous smile suggested that whatever hardships I had faced this day were soon to be a distant memory, like impressive statesmen with something to say, and quality unbiased news programing.
“I think I’m gonna be OK now” I replied.
“Well I’ll see what I can do to make sure” She said. “Can I get you something to drink?”
This question almost always makes me fall in love, sometimes, even with dudes. “Can I get you something to drink?” Why yes, yes you can.
I asked her to help me pick out a beer. I explained to her my affection for high quality micro and craft beers, and my 5 Thong Large Man Rating System (5TLMRS). She offered a few suggestions, based on her experience, and what other people (whom she had no doubt pulled from the depths of a crappy day as well) had enjoyed, and we were on our way. I had a small pizza, a nice freshly chopped salad, 3 beers, and an emotional full body massage. For about an hour, I forgot about douchebags, volume incentives, lead times, call to close ratios, and travel arrangements. I watched baseball on flat screened high def TVs, I admired the tight skirts on the hostesses as they escorted other folks to their tables, I talked to Jackie about beer, her Tennessee upbringing, and how cool it is to work at a place like The Mellow Mushroom. She brought over her manager, Jen, to suggest another I.P.A option because Jackie was “not really an I.P.A. kind of girl”. Jen suggested a Caldera I.P.A. out of a brewery in Oregon that I had not heard of. So as I’m waiting for this delivery of something new to try, it hits me that I’m not looking back on the bummer of a day I just went through, I’m looking forward to getting home. Ahhh…the magic spell of a good waitress named Jackie.
The Caldera ended up being a great 5 Thong interpretation of an I.P.A., so even when I was completely content and relaxed, and thinking to myself that it doesn’t get any better than this…it did.
Does it help that Jackie, and Jen, and the hostesses were pretty girls? Yes, it probably does. Did the high quality food and beverage make a difference? Most likely, yes. But I’ve been served by pretty waitresses at 5 star restaurants where the arrogant service and stuffy attitude were as soulless as the meetings I had attended the same day…these experiences rarely relieve me of any tension or help me forget about the day. They usually feel like one more part of the process. Who has time or need for that?
Jackie didn’t know how “splendidly awesome I am” when I sat down in her section. She doesn’t know how many t-shirts or guitars I own, what kind of car I drive, or how great my company’s products are. She probably didn’t imagine a homecoming queen smoocher either as she saw my immense frame walking over to the table facing the front door. She just saw a Large Man with a clenched jaw who looked like he needed a beer, and she got me one. On the surface, it seems simple, but there is so much more to it than just bringing out that beer. It’s how she brought that beer. She made a connection, and she made a difference because that’s what a good waitress does. A good waitress can change your day. Jackie is a good waitress.
If you’re ever in Chattanooga, check out that Mellow Mushroom – the one by the airport, and ask for Jackie, and tell her that The Large Man sent you. Then give her a big tip.
Thanks for reading.
The Large Man