Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Julie Andrews, Gyro's and Eastern Africa

When I was a kid, my youth pastor said when your van got a flat tire, you should give thanks to God.

I hated when adults tried to impose stuff on me that I knew very well that they didn't believe, so I dug up a little courage and challenged him.

"No offense, but that is really wicked-stupid sir, why would I give thanks for having to scamper around looking for a jack, and getting all greasy. I'm not sure if you are being practical here."

The youth pastor smiled through his blond mustache.

Have you ever noticed that youth pastors always seem to have those weak blond "John Waters" stashes that look like a line of translucent ants?

I think that's why God invented the position of youth pastor, if those guys tried to get into pipe fitting or construction with lips accessories like that, they'd suffer a mighty beat down.

I regress, Mr. Pederson smiled and explained that perhaps our van was about to get T-Boned in the upcoming intersection,and with divine intervention, the flat tire could in essence save your life.

Hmmmmmmm ?

So it's time for Klecko to go home, but...the phone rings and it's my B.F.F. and Star Tribune columnist Kim Ode.

The conversation starts off kinda one sided, she's doing the talking, and I must confess I kind of like be entertained for a change.

The first topic is how she has decided that each Wednesday she will leave a opening line from a Beach Boy song on her status.

Then she starts a new topic where I don't think she's so much talking to me, as much as thinking out loud in front of me.....

"Yeah, I'm heading up north this weekend to address a group of people who are wood fire oven enthusiasts. I'm sure they'll want to discuss brass tac's, but I think more than hashing through blue prints, I'd rather talk about some of the tangible affects the project in itself has had on my life, if it weren't for that oven....I wouldn't be close to the person I am today."

I yawned, it was to early in the day for inspiration, I asked her what else she had for me.

It's almost never that Kim Ode gets excited in her voice, but a rare exception seemed to spring into her mind.

"Oh, guess who I'll be meeting next Thursday?"

She didn't wait for an answer.

"Julie Andrews."

As a 47 year old guy, I was happy for her, but official "Guy Laws" prohibit me from rejoicing over enthusiastic sprites that sport a pixie hair cut.

But you know, I thought it was cool that Kim was so excited. Over the course of her career, and our friendship, she has met everybody.

Just in the last little bit, I know she's kicked it with Jane Goodall, Michele Bachmann, Anthony Bourdain etc - etc.

But she never seems impressed, or even all that interested, but now she mentions that she probably won't have a chance to actually speak to her, and I bud in and ask her what she could even say to Julie Andrews.

Kim replies.....

"That's exactly what I'm saying, well first of all its business, so my job isn't to necessarily be friendly but"

Klecko interrupts.....

"But.... tell me Julie Andrews....did you hate that b**** Sandy Duncan trying to cop on your already established scene with her fake eye and Wheat Thins?"

Then Kim laughs and produces an excuse that will remove me from her day.

My point though, is just like the youth pastor said, everything happens for a reason.

I should have been gone from work, but now that I was still there, my packing department supervisor informs me that one of our accounts didn't get delivered because nobody was at the restaurant during it's usual opening time.

I asked which raunt it was, and to my delight, it was an African joint that specializes in Gyro's, but has an interesting Italian menu as well.

When I think of African breads, my mind usually races towards flat breads or pitas, but I've been selling a lot of sourdough large steak buns to a fair amount of the African and Middle Eastern Concepts around the city.

So Klecko plops the order in his bread truck and heads over to said destination.

The interesting thing about this place is they always have diners at 4 or 5 tables. It doesn't matter if it is noon or night.

The place is never empty, and it is never full, just a constant 4 to 5 table trickle.

The order is 4 bread totes high, and customers assist me by holding the doors open so I can navigate my way in w/o to much difficulty.

Behind the counter is the wife of the owner. She is holding down the fort all by herself.

As I walk towards the back of the house to set her order down, I notice that 2 of the establishments 12 tables are covered with remnants which looked to have been left behind by her children that must be close to double digits in age by now.

When I get to the back, there is a wall that partitions off visibility from the front of the restaurant. This is where there 3 compartment sink resides. It has been expressed in previous visits that there just is not enough money for an automated dish washer.

The sink is full, and as I ponder the level of elbow grease it will take to return these utensils to their original condition, my friend turns the corner, tells me to place the steak buns on the milk crates, and ushers me over toward the soda fountain.

"You are Diet Pepsi no?"

I nod yes and then my friend might have been a little embarrassed by the pile of dishes that have mounted.

"I no longer have a person to help me clean here. We can't afford it."

I mentioned that - that was to bad, and then asked if business was loosening up since the economy seemed to be improving.

Her answer startled me.

"I'm not sure how we've done the last few weeks, not to good I think. I have been sick."

So now Klecko says he can relate since he too had flu-head recently and.....

The Eastern African women interrupted him.

"No...I was sick, I had a stroke."

I know there are different "stroke levels", but even entry level has to be harsh when dealing with strokes.

I didn't know what to say, so I paused thoughtfully and asked what me and Sue McGleno were having for dinner?

The prospect of a double take out order put the slightest glimmer in her eyes.

As she prepared our food, she continued discussing her current situation.

"I was told that my stroke was encouraged by high levels of stress, but what can you do?

If you are going to provide for your family, you need money no?"

I agreed again.

"Our restaurant does not generate this income, so now I must run it alone, and in a couple of weeks I will also look for a part time job."

I wanted to cry out loud for her situation, her health and the hopelessness in my heart, but sometimes even that won't help.

Instead I just smiled and mentioned that I had missed her, and it always brought joy into my life when I was at her restaurant and in her presence.

Sometimes when you are backed into a corner, and at that moment you can't see escape, you realize a compliment is more than you can hope for.

My friend told me that her day was better, now that she had seen me.

I'm glad I had that flat tire today.

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