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From the Editor: When Work Becomes Your Life…



Years ago in a galaxy far, far away­—California—I wrote a column for a newspaper about being a parent. I remember one in particular where I was comparing having coworkers to having children. Those were the days when I felt guilty for being at work instead of home with the kids, and guilty when I was home with the kids that I wasn’t at work. Now I just feel guilty.

One of my observations at the time was that you know you’re spending too much time at work when you can’t wait to get home to tell your children the cute thing your coworker just said.

Or you took pictures of  your coworker blowing out the candles on her birthday cake in the breakroom and passed them around the dinner table for your kids to ooh and ahh over. 

Kids, here’s a selfie with my co-worker Steve Hamburger. He’s the graphic designer here.

Fortunately for my children, I didn’t have a cell phone when they were younger. It was bad enough that after hitting a home run, my son would run up to me only to be told about the amazing headline the features editor came up with for my story. Can you imagine your mother posting pictures on Instagram of her coworkers’ milestones, rather than your own?

Alas, my children have left me and I find myself having to turn my attention to writing about food, which I’ll do in a moment.

On the off chance that my three children might actually read their mother’s column, I wanted to point out the jacket I’m wearing in the selfie, upper right, is not the same one I’m wearing in the column mugshot. They are totally different, as are the other five I own. 

Perhaps the reason my old column came to mind is because the cover story is about Sue Zelickson’s son, Barry. Sue and I work together on the Charlies, so she’s like a coworker, right?

Sue accompanied me to lunch at Big Thrill Factory because she said in all the times she’s visited, Barry has never bought her lunch. 

I know daughters dread hearing that they’re just like their mothers, but I hope Barry takes it as a compliment when I say he reminds me of his mother. He’s creative and he has an irreverent sense of humor—and based on his choice of businesses I’d say he likes to have fun.

The R&D for Big Thrill Factory sounds like a dream job. He discovered “Fowling,” where people toss a football at bowling pins, in Michigan, and ax throwing out of Texas. He had a trampoline custom-fitted with speed bumps you have to jump over quickly or get knocked down. 

We conducted the interview in the ax-throwing room, and both he and Regional General Manager Darrel Blomberg couldn’t leave until they’d taught me how to throw an ax and then tried to outdo each other. Imagine working at a place where you could blow off steam by taking a break and throwing an ax at a plywood target. Imagine the coworkers pictures you could imagine on that target.

Before Big Thrill Factory was Spooky World, a extravaganza that had to be built up and taken down every year around Halloween. It was not your elementary school’s haunted house. Celebrity guests included Elvira-Mistress of the Dark (I used to watch her emcee horror movies back in the day) and Linda Blair, who I believe may be the only teenage actress to have her head spin 360-degrees in a movie, earning her death threats for being blasphemous.

Because Spooky World didn’t have a permanent building, one year the 33-foot-high inflatable slide of the Titanic was dropped off at his house and Barry decided to use it for his son Zack’s birthday party. I’m not sure if Barry just thought it or actually asked the parents: “What does it feel like to have fun on a the thing that killed thousands of people?”

See that’s why Big Thrill is such a better fit for a family-and-friend financed endeavor. No Titanics, no severed body parts floating down the river, just good clean fun, like the wipe-out trampoline and 28-inch, high-caloric pizzas. 

 

There are plenty of profiles on interesting people in this issue, such as Klecko’s piece on Marjorie Johnson, the all-time winningest blue ribbon baker at the State Fair (he takes a different approach to writing her story than other writers), but there are also stories on how to make your equipment last longer by checking out your water supply, lessons learned by costing out your recipes (even the bones) and how to get a bank to give you a loan, despite the fact that you’re a restaurant. 

In addition, Editor Laura Michaels tells how to ensure #MeToo moments don’t get a toehold in your business. 

And please don’t forget this is a combined June/July issue. Talk to you again in August. 

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