When I decided to start my blog, I jotted down some ideas to write about. The thought crossed my mind that maybe I’d run out of subjects and ideas, but then another thought crossed my mind. I was lucky enough to have had a huge variety of experiences in the army. But that’s not all! After I retired, my luck continued. I managed to get a job managing a local restaurant, and that job was just as rewarding, with many challenges and a huge learning curve for me, since I was now in charge of something I knew nothing about. I had gotten hired because of my management experience, but that was all I knew. Retail? Profit and Loss Statements? What the hell are those? Bit by bit, with lots of help from a good company, I started figuring it out, and got promoted to general manager. Uh oh. Ever heard of being promoted to your level of incompetence? Anyway, so began the next exciting chapter of my life.
I totally loved it! The best thing about it was working with the crew. Teenagers! No job experience! Boyfriend/girlfriend drama; showing up for their shift crying! But that was the challenge, and I was fortunate enough to hire good people. I mean good people. They were bright, eager to learn, fun to work with, and we learned from each other. They weren’t all teenagers though, there were older folks as well, some supporting families with the relatively low wages inherent in the business. But I depended on them to help me run the restaurant, and they depended on me to pay them! Same as the army, except their wages weren’t decided by congress.
Did I say I loved it? I enjoyed coming to work; I enjoyed learning business stuff; and, most of all, the crew was like family. I cared about them, and I suppose I sounded like an old geezer when I gave them advice, but I think they listened sometimes. I learned new things, like new words! It was like a new language to me. I can speak young people now, if you need a translator. I heard about MySpace; then, a year or two later, all I heard about was Facebook. Sure, lots of families have teenagers, but I had dozens of them.
I really miss working with them. I miss the connection we had. I hired kids who were freshmen in high school; worked with them for years, watched them graduate and go to college, and hired them back to work during their summer break! But there are always a few who are special. Those few who had that extra drive, that extra measure of integrity and character. The young folks who make a difference. When you go to a “fast food” restaurant, remember that. There are a number of CEOs who will tell you about their first job working in fast food restaurants. They will tell you how it helped them in their future careers. In our economy, it’s difficult to get any job, and no matter what job you have, you can learn from it. It can teach you something. I thought I was a good manager, but boy did I still have a lot to learn!
Because of my COPD, I had to quit working. The crew would tell me to go sit down. I couldn’t help close the restaurant. I couldn’t deal with the fast pace during a lunch or dinner rush. I had to go outside and take a break; smoke a cigarette or two (I finally quit smoking soon after that). I miss them, I really do. I go back every once in a while and visit. That really brings back the great memories. The great friendships I developed with some of the crew. The company and other managers. I’ve been lucky in my two careers. I had the best of two completely different worlds. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.