I sold my radio stations and we moved to the North Shore of Lake Superior in October. By January it was making me crazy not having a regular job to go to, so I took a part time position cooking at an assisted living facility. I was only working two days a week and thoroughly enjoyed cooking for, and serving the residents. Occasionally, I would get asked to work an extra shift. As long as I wasn’t already busy, I didn’t mind doing so. I really liked spending time with the residents and I worked with a great bunch of people.
My phone rang at 6:55 am. I didn’t get to it in time, so the call went to voicemail. The caller ID indicated it was Gretchen, the kitchen manager. I assumed someone wasn’t feeling well and she was going to ask me to come in to cover for them. No problem, I would be happy to help out. The recorded lady said, “You have one unheard message…”
Next was a sleepy sounding voice, “Tom, this is Gretchen. I just got a call. They said you didn’t show up for work this morning. Wondering what’s going on. Give me a call right away, please.” My heart raced with panic.
“I’m not supposed to work today.” I said out loud. I was off Memorial Day weekend and the June schedule didn’t have me working again until the eleventh. I guess I forgot Memorial Day came early that year and there was nearly a full week of May left after the holiday. I went quickly to the other room to check my copy of the schedule. Sure enough, I was supposed to be there at 6:30. Dang!
I called Gretchen, told her of my error and assured her I was on my way. I took the fastest shower possible, then ran out the door, still buckling my belt as I rushed to my car. I made it to work by 7:15, leaving me only 15 minutes to have the kitchen prepared to serve breakfast. Whew! With some help from Amanda, I made it. Breakfast was served on time but it was very tense and stressful.
As the morning went on, everything smoothed out. After breakfast, I went to the dining room to spend some time with the residents, hearing their stories and telling a few of my own. Sometimes I would start singing a song. This day I sang “You Are My Sunshine.” Most of the residents chimed in – a few adding their own harmony. We had a real good time.
I was back in the kitchen, cleaning up and getting ready for lunch. Irish, one of the resident assistants, came to the kitchen, “I just want to say thank you, for all you do around here. Especially the way you treat the residents. I really appreciate it.”
I was both flattered and humbled by her comments. It’s always been awkward for me to accept compliments; I never know what to say. Years ago, I decided a simple and sincere, “Thank you,” was the best way to respond, and, that’s what I did.
“Thank you, Irish. I appreciate that.” I said. Then for some unknown reason, I added, “Here, have an egg.” I said, tossing the raw egg I was holding in my hand toward her. The egg arched through the air. Irish started to do a fast dance with her feet. Her eyes got big and wide. She began waving her hands frantically as if that would make the egg stop traveling. You would have thought I tossed her a spider or a snake!
The egg crashed to the hard tile floor in front of her. The shell broke open, smashing into small pieces. Gooey egg white and broken deep yellow yoke, splashed about. The explosion made quite a mess.
“What are you doing? Are you crazy?” She asked while laughing.
Between gasps for air and hardy laughter, I managed to ask, “Why didn’t you catch it?” I was laughing so hard, I had tears in my eyes.
“I didn’t think you were actually going to throw it!” She answered, “Good Lord. What’s the matter with you?”
Just then, Corine was walking in with a handful of dishes. I wondered if it would work twice? When she set the dishes down and turned around, I tossed another egg to her. Very quick on her feet, Corine caught the egg. Instinctively, she threw it right back to me just as quickly. I also caught the egg. “You’re nuts!” She said. Irish agreed and we all enjoying a good, healthy laugh.
The rest of the day, every time Irish walked past the kitchen, I would ask, “Do you want an egg?” Or just look at her and start laughing about it again. Then she would start laughing. By the time the shift was over, my sides hurt from laughing.
All in all, considering the rough start, it had been a very good day cooking at the assisted living home. My homemade chicken noodle soup was a big hit for lunch. The residents all seemed to like the pork chops I made for dinner. There is an especially good feeling that comes with serving a meal that is well received.
I learned a few good lessons from the day. A simple “Thank you” would have been enough…just not as much fun. Secondly, if there is a company picnic, I don’t want Irish as my partner in the egg toss. And, most importantly, no matter how badly a day starts off, it does not have to continue, nor end that way. It’s a choice; your choice. Whatever the problem is, or was, let it go and move forward. You have the ability to turn the day around to make it good. And, should someone throw an egg at you, don’t complain. Just catch it…and throw it right back at them.