Sunday, 20 December 2009

Are the 90's finished yet?

There are so many disadvantages to growing older that you tend to forget the good stuff. Today Rita was reminded of those good things.

Many years ago, in fact round 1990, Rita employed 16 staff in her Battery Point café. They were all uni students, working their way through uni. I never had to advertise for staff, as current staff recommended friends who they considered would fit in, and that’s how it worked. All of them have gone on to achievements ranging from princess to pauper! I met one of them today, after not having seen him for probably 12 years.

Andrew was a zany kid. Enthusiastic, loud, noisy, vocal, funny, artistic, a performer, tall, cleancut, great with entertaining the customers, OTT in many ways. He was never grouchy, or rude, or bad tempered. But I gathered from staff that he was pretty lazy, and didn’t perform well when the café was bulging at the seams, and we needed all hands on deck, concentrating hard, and paying attention to everything that was happening on every table.

I needed to lay it on the line to him. I gave him a few friendly warnings, but eventually it came to a head, and I knew what I had to do.

I took him to lunch, spoke gently but firmly to him, and basically left it to him to decide what he wanted to do. Did he want to persist, maybe letting the rest of the team down, knowing that they (=his friends) would come to me and tell me if he was still not pulling his weight, or would he like to take some time out, then return if he wanted to, after some time away. As I didn’t work the same shifts as Andrew, I never had to tolerate his slackness.

He decided to leave, and eventually went overseas. I saw him on his return to Tassie after the overseas stint. He was with a friend, to whom he introduced me as “the person who sacked me in the nicest possible way”. I loved that! And what’s more, it was true. There was nothing vindictive about letting him go. Quite simply, he wasn’t doing what he was being paid for, so I made it his problem, and the solution his decision.

So – today when I met him, I had no problem seeing him again. In fact I was overjoyed to see him again. We had a wonderful chat, and I felt so inspired after I left his company. He is exactly the same guy he was 20 years ago. He hasn’t changed one iota. And to make things worse, he actually looks exactly the same. It’s as if he walked out the door of my café yesterday, and into RVL (where I met him today) this morning.

And you know the funniest thing? He’s Ut Si’s (Colette’s) stepson! He’s the Prof’s son.

And that’s the great thing about aging. You can see humans developing over the years. You watch your own kids evolve from these funny little tykes who spew and can’t walk or talk or go to the toilet, then they grow into a Nellie. One minute you’re changing their nappies, you turn around and there they are planning their 40th birthday next week! You’ve barely had time to draw breath after you finished searching for their first tooth, and here they are all grown up, walking on their own and not requiring you to remind them about their homework any more.

Andrew has grown into a splendid man. The Prof is justifiably proud of him. I loved chatting to him today, and seeing him again. Almost as much as I loved breakfasting with Colette and the Prof, and kids.

That’s what Christmas is all about, isn’t it?

Posted on by Rita


Mary Estcourt said...

It's lovely when you meet up with people again in a different setting and a different time out of the blue like that...we had a lovely barbecue, with the third of the Steves able to put in a short appearance after his very exciting week property purchasing! Cheers!

Rita said...

Hi Mary. Glad you all had a good BBQ, and that Steve 3 was able to pop in after his few weeks of big business. He has a hectic few weeks ahead of him now....that will test the man!

sir grumpy said...

No Rita, that is NOT what Christmas is about.
It's about going mad buying everything and pushing people out of the way to get it.
Traffic snarls and supermarket queues and no parking spaces and stressed shop assistants and eatery staff.
It's about not having a bloody clue what to get your significant others and hoping the whole thing would go away and you would find yourself on a beautiful white-sand beach, relaxing uner a palm fringe with a cold drink and a few nibblies.
Then, just a little path through to a sleepy tropical village where there are pubs serving cool lagers and all sorts of drinkies for the missus, then an afternoon sleep before dinner I've drifted off again and I'm stuck in traffic on Sandy Bay Road.
But seriously, Rita, nice story from you and a nice sentiment. A good Christmas to you, your regulars and all the anons.

Rita said...

Au contraire Sir G - I've nailed the Christmas buying problem now. You need to think smart and strategic. You need to keep well away from those more populated shopping areas, and most importantly you need to get up EARLY, and do whatever shopping you have to do after 7.00am or you truly are stuck in those pre-Xmas queues & traffic jams you so accurately describe.

And the same Xmas sentiments to you and your significant others too Sir G. May 2010 bring us all renewed vigour and enthusiasm for blogging and commenting - especially our most controversial commenter - YOU, Sir G!

Victor said...

Wow, Rita. What a story on Andrew and an entire post! He is a real prince charming, isn't he?

Sorry we missed you at the barbie.

Wishing you all the best this coming Christmas and New Year!

Rita said...

Same to you and Reb Victor. I'm curious as to what you guys will be eating over Xmas - will check in with you about that!

sir grumpy said...

Your solution is worse than my problem Rita. Get up God! Think smart and No hope. Controversial? I'll argue the toss on that. Need I go on? (Don't answer that).

Victor said...

Rita - sorry to disppoint you. Christmas is like any other day for us. So nothing special. No special meal. It is just the two of us. Not even blog about it. Cheers!