Rumors of my demise

Rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated, it seems.

While it’s true that I’ve not been updating any of my blogging, I’ve still been around elsewhere.  For those of you who’ve known me long enough, it should be clear as day that I’m a pretty private person.  Hanging everything out there for the whole world to see hasn’t always been my thing.  Will that ever change?  Maybe.  But I’m 34 now, so probably not.

One of my friends (who I’ll reference again later) told me I needed to start blogging more.  She’s probably right.  What’s the point in paying for a website without using it?  To be fair, I do run this server for multiple other things, but the front-end hasn’t really been my priority.  That’ll have to change soon, I imagine.

Life has been busy over the last few months.  Beware, this is a “mega-update”….

Once I got out of my house and into my apartment, come to find out that NC DOT was taking my building as part of the new Northern Loop around Greensboro.  Since I hadn’t lived on the northern end of Greensboro since 2006/7, I hadn’t bothered to look into any updates on the Loop.  In my time away, they increased the original plan from 4 to 6 lanes, thus necessitating the need to annex my building.  Believe it or not, the road will not go through where my building once stood, but it was literally taking a foot of it for the noise wall they’ll be putting up.  So, I moved across the complex in July, with the DOT paying for the movers and a little extra on top.   😉

The majority of the last year since my update has been spent working, of course.  Last September, I had the once in the lifetime opportunity to cater at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.  We weren’t actually catering the convention, but to several of the news agencies on-site – Fox News, CNN, CBS.  I’ve done big events before, but this takes the cake.  All told, we were serving approximately 600-700 meals per shift.  Total meals served for the two weeks in Charlotte was over 11,000.  I was only there for the “main” week, as that’s really when I was needed.  We had the normal full-time staff there to basically take care of Fox’s request to feed a couple hundred during the setup phase.    I basically showed up Friday night and went on the night-shift Saturday night.

Our kitchen setup was amazing.  We rented a “mobile kitchen” which is basically a 30-foot trailer fitted with ovens, tables, a sink, fridges, and a tilt skillet.  Next to that, we had a 12-foot refrigerator trailer, then a full 53 foot divided trailer from Sysco (our supplier) with a freezer, fridge, and dry goods storage.  We connected the kitchen and the refrigerator with a 30-foot tent with walls and air conditioner units.  What a setup.  Although next time we do it, I think we’ll make sure that we have a better flooring solution than what we did in that tent, or, I at least hope we do.

That was my role there – night shift.  We hired a local gal out of Charlotte to help me, and she was basically taking care of the kitchen stuff.  A friend of Ed and Anna’s rented his house to us for the few weeks and we stayed there.  I’d wake up about 3:30, shower, drive into Charlotte, and go on the clock about 5-5:30.  I’d basically be in charge of finishing up dinner service by 7, tearing down, washing, re-setting the three buffet areas for the next day, and cooking breakfast.  Breakfast needed to be ready for CNN by 5:45, Fox’s continental at 6:45, with full service ready at 7:45, and CBS at 8.  Thankfully, the day crew would usually get in around 6-6:30 to start lunch and help me finish up breakfast stuff.  Then the 30 minute drive out of Charlotte to the house.  What surprised me though was you would figure that driving out of Charlotte that time of morning would be easier – it wasn’t.

The real fun was actually getting into our area.  We were right outside of TWC Arena inside the press compound.  To get inside the “green zone”, you had to go to the station like a mile away while the Secret Service would inspect your vehicle.  Didn’t have to do that until Monday though, as the Secret Service did their lock-down starting Sunday evening.  Monday was interesting, because I had to go back to Greensboro on Sunday and pickup some food for meals on Tuesday – 30-some pans of frozen food, mostly lasagna.  The x-ray truck was getting a funny read on that, so had to open up a pan for them.  After they inspect you, you get a police escort all the way in. Cruiser in front, cruiser in back.  That was rather interesting, to say the least.  😉

An event of this size isn’t without it’s snafus.  There were plenty, and sad to say, a lot of them were on the coordination with the Secret Service and local law enforcement.  Secret Service knew what was going on, of course, but local law enforcement was sometimes clueless as to what was happening.  Trying to get into the green zone on the first day was an exercise in patience, because I kept getting conflicting information on where I needed to go for inspection.

The other downside to this event was having health officials in our way the entire time.  I understand they have jobs to do and all, but they felt the need to temp everything every couple of minutes.  Apparently, part of this came from the FDA, because they ran into issues with some of the vendors in Tampa at the RNC.  But what bugged us is that we weren’t selling to the general public.  We had a full kitchen setup on-site, ovens and all.  The first night on shift was frustrating – I spent 3/4 of the night explaining our procedures to the guys there.  I lost my voice (I was fighting off a sinus infection anyways) and barely was able to get breakfast served the next morning.

Anna likens the entire experience to giving birth… immediately after, you don’t want to do it again, but down the line, you start to say “I could do it again.”  Without having experienced that myself, I’m inclined to agree with her.  It was much the same way in Dayton working on the Air Show every year.  Tons of work in the weeks leading up to it, headaches the weekend of, then a reprieve.  Of course, in the middle of January when the high is 20 degrees, you’re looking forward to summer and more hours anyways.

Other than that event, the rest of the last few months has been relatively straightforward.