Archive for December, 2009

A Smile, a Kind Word and a French Fry

December 21, 2009

Most kids and most parents seem to think that working for McDonalds is not a very worthwhile first job. But I contend that you can learn everything about life and businesses in a stint in the fast food industry.

When I went to work for Sandy’s Drive In (It was later bought out by Hardee’s), the organization proceeded to train us on everything from how to greet a customer to how many French fries to put in a bag.

Being your typical ‘know it all’ kid, I was not impressed with what I referred to as the ‘propaganda training films.’

I was especially put off by the one that explained the huge impact of putting one extra fry in a sack. The film proceeded to explain that the waste of one French fry amounted to a bag of fries within a  few short minutes. In the course of a lunch rush it could easily amount to a loss of revenue from 5-6 bags of fries. Multiply that over all the Sandy’s in town and it is a case of fries a day. Multiply that times the hundred stores in the chain over a year’s period and it could easily amount to a hotel full of lost revenue over a year.

“1 French fry?  Be real!” I thought.

And the joke was on me.

Later on I came to be a business owner and found that “The French Fry Theory”, as I later came to call it, was the purest form of truth there ever was. And, it applies to everything from paper towels to attitude adjustment.

Though few of us ever consider it, every little thing makes a difference. One French fry can alter the profits of a whole company. What we waste in America is likely enough to feed the rest of the world.

Take the idea further and consider that something as simple as a helping hand received and passed on from one neighbor to another can chance a city. A smile could light up the lives of countless others. It’s the small things that make a big difference.

So, what is in a smile, a kind word and a French fry?

Each one holds the power to change the world.

A Bad Week for Vanity

December 10, 2009

After attending a high school reunion later in her life, Erma Bombeck commented on the experience.

“I couldn’t possibly have gone to school with all these old people.”

And I sure can identify with her sentiment. This week I have seen a backlash of my own personal vanity on several occasions.

The first thing that happened was that I found a recent photo of my ex-husband. We divorced 16 years ago and I have not seen him in that length of time. 

I was just shocked. He looked like he could have been my grandfather. I just had to show someone, so I called up a business associate of mine to see what he thought.

Looking up the photo, I asked him if he thought Rob looked older than me. Pleased, when he answered “yes”, my second question was, “Yes, but by how much?”

Jerry answered, “Oh, at least 4 years.”

“4 years?” I screeched. “4 years? You gotta be kidding. He looks like my grandpa!”

I should have known not to ask Jerry.  He is 20 years younger than me and a great guy. I think of him as a business associate and he thinks of me as a mother figure.

What on earth was I thinking asking him?

Okay. So my family comes for Thanksgiving. I show the photo to my mom and she says he looks very happy and “about right for his age.”  She added that I look nice too.

The next day Janine, my sister-in-law, her teenage daughter and I go to Sandstone Gardens for lunch.  (Janine is only 5 years younger than me.) When we went up to pay, the waitress asked us if we were three generations together for the holiday.  I’m sure the look of surprise/horror on my face made her worry about the tip even before we told her we were sister-in-laws and Malory was my niece.

I have to give the waitress credit for quick thinking, though. Her explanation was that I seemed to be catering to Janine’s wishes by ordering salad so she could have it. “Something a mother would do,” she said.

We laughed and told her it was a good save in a tricky situation.

Needless to say, my vision of myself as eternally young has had a trying week.

As disconcerting as it may be, my whole family, including me, found a great deal of humor in it.

Proving, once again, that there is almost nothing so serious that you can’t get a laugh out of it somewhere.

Real Diversity

December 3, 2009

Diversity isn’t just about race, religion and sex.

Each one of us is ‘diverse’ from all the others of us.

I contend that we are all so conscious of being politically correct that our personal diversity is going underground.

Why are people so afraid of expressing themselves openly?

Embracing each person as the unique individual that they are is exciting and dynamic. That’s where we can experience ‘real diversity.’

The problem is that we hide our unique personalities in an effort to fit in with the crowd.


I love it when I’m in a situation where I can let the real me, the whole of who I am, run free. I’m equally delighted when the others do the same.

It’s so refreshing; probably because it is so rare.

Several years ago, in the wee hours of the morning, a group of us decided to go out for breakfast.

We stopped into a 24-hour, greasy spoon café. My brother Bobby is quite a character. A ‘good ole boy’, he is a ‘real’ person and will start a conversation with anyone. His personality reminds you of Earl. (The one that was known for saying, “You know what I mean, Vern?”)

Anyway, as the waitress approached our table Bobby said, “Hi Hon, what’s your name?”
She was in no mood to visit and answered him with a curt, “Puddin Tain.”

Our eyes just about popped out of our heads. We sat there dumbfounded, being catapulted back to childhood when we used to taunt each other with that very phrase.

(“What’s your name?” “Puddin Tain. Ask me again and I’ll tell you the same!”)

It didn’t matter that the lady had snubbed him. No one was mad. She had just shown us a unique piece of herself and reminded us of our own.

We have laughed about that for over 20 years now and recently recounted it on our family video.

The expression of our individual diversity counts for the great stories in our lives. It sets us apart and brings us together as we enjoy the uniqueness of each and every individual regardless of their race, creed, religion, and the color of their tee shirt or the neighborhood they grew up in.

The fact that we all see things a little bit differently is a thing to be applauded. It keeps us on our toes.

Just think, had that woman simply told us her name and taken our order, we would have no memory of the evening. But instead, she stepped out and made it all real.

We did not take offence but instead celebrated her creativity in controlling what she thought to be the

All this to say that, when you try to fit in by being what you think will make everyone happy, you miss yourself and…… you miss the other person too

Experience the joy of ‘real diversity.’ You might be both surprised and enlightened by the experience.

After all, it’s the stuff memories are made of.