Sunday, September 20, 2009

If I needed an ego boost...

... this weekend sure would have done it. :) I made the 4 hour trek up the mountain (No, not on foot! I drove.) to the place of my birth to help celebrate the 100 year anniversary of The Ozark Cafe' (managed by my nephew). I took with me this 5+ foot T-Rex (added the chef after I arriving.)

I had planned on arriving the day before my Saturday shift around 3:30pm and work on some decor balloons to help "set the stage", but I slept right through my alarm. Then I had one delay after another (including being stuck behind every friggin' driver out there wanting to travel at 45mph in 55mph speed zones!) so didn't arrive until a little after 5pm - right before the Friday night dinner rush.

By that time I was a little stressed from the drive (I really dislike that winding mountain highway!) so I sat down to eat at the cafe' and relax. While waiting for my food to arrive I pulled out my balloons to make the dino's food. It took me nearly an hour to make the little chef guy for the T-Rex to eat because I kept putting it down to twist for others instead. By the way, the Mushroom Swiss Burger I ordered arrived steaming hot but by the time I was able to eat it, it was cold, cold, cold. Even cold it was extremely delicious! And yes I know, if I really wanted hot food, I shouldn't have pulled out the balloons until after I ate. :)

It was these two little cuties that put the idea of doing some decor work out of my mind Friday night. I loved seeing their mom in the Spidey hat (yes it's a chumpy Spidey, but it works). Their dad played guitar and sang on stage almost that entire evening and he was both an excellent picker and a marvelous country singer.

After giving up on twisting decor pieces that night and vowing to do them in the morning before my scheduled shift started, I left the restaurant and went in search of the guest suite the cafe' owner had reserved for me. On the way I stopped in to visit my niece - just in time to watch her put the finishing touches on this huge cake to be served the next day to all the customers at the restaurant. I believe she said it was equivalent in size to 15 cake mixes and I know it was all 2 grown men could do to move it. It was designed to look like the cafe' itself. The only things missing were the rocking chairs out front:

By 6am I was back at the restaurant to have my morning coffee and a bite to eat - a full 2 hours before I was to start working. 30 minutes later, with caffeine finally running amuck in my blood stream, I make the first and only decor piece - a Don C. octopus. (I know, simple but impressive!) Even though there were no children in sight, all it took was one teen asking for a balloon to start the ball rolling.

The owner provided 5 cent donuts, 5 cent coffee (free refills), 25 cent bowls of chili (none of which I had time to sample), and give-a-ways every 15 minutes (everything from a free breakfast to free soup and salad every day for year). Our state senator made an appearance and presented the owner with some sort of certificate in honor of the occasion. There was also live music, most of which was the owner and his 'band'. The guy can sing! And he sang songs I knew! I had to be careful and not allow myself to sing along while twisting...well not to sing along with all of the songs. lol

Most of the day is a blur of twisting, laughter, and balloon hats. These were some of the most fun people I have ever twisted for! They loved my balloons; they "got" my humor; they waited patiently while I twisted my nicer designs instead of getting grumpy and forcing me to make faster, less impressive stuff; they were understanding when I said I needed a break; they totally understood why I pulled up a chair at their table instead of standing with the excessive weight of my over-packed apron dragging on my neck; and even though they wanted balloons almost all of them were happy to let me "surprise" them with my own selections.

Except for 4 breaks, one of them lasting as long as 10 whole minutes!, it was non-stop twisting until 9:30 that night. So much for the 12 hour shift I was scheduled for; a shift that was to include as many breaks as I needed and all the food I could eat. :) I knew I wouldn't take time to eat (because then I would have to also take time to brush my teeth) but for some reason I thought that there might be a lull in between breakfast and lunch and dinner shifts. I was soooo wrong. lol

At the end of the last music set, or what was supposed to be the end, the owner thanked everyone for making the 100 anniversary celebration so special. Then he called for me (I was in another room twisting away) and when I made my way into the room with the music, I was greeted with a rousing round of applause. He then stood up there on stage and thanked me and said some of the most flattering comments about my balloon designs anyone ever has, including that my balloons "made the event".

What happened next sorta floored me. I was not paid for the 12 hours I was contracted for. I was paid for the 14 hours (I fibbed a bit and said it was 14 hours instead of 15) AND the 3 hours I twisted the night before. I tried explaining that I was only "playing" the night before and hadn't really "worked" and also that I hadn't even asked if I could play with my balloons then, but it didn't matter, I was paid for those hours anyway.

I made my way back to my suite where I wolfed down a large portion of some to the best pizza ever (made just for me at the cafe'). I managed to pull off my shoes, even thought about getting ready for bed, but then I just sorta passed out right there on the couch. lol I didn't rouse again 'till morning.

Tonight my hands are swollen, very sore, stiff, have tender spots (almost blisters) and a couple of torn (bleeding) cuticles. My neck and back are almost as bad - but my ego has never been fed so well. :)


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