Making The Best Of Any Situation With The Chicken Man Philosophy

Making The Best Of Any Situation With The Chicken Man Philosophy

How do a little girl and a children’s book embody a way of life?
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As a Custodial Cast Member at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, I sometimes work in the restrooms. When I do, and when the restrooms get busy, I try to make conversation with the guests waiting in line.

“Are you having fun in Hollywood today, princess?” I say to the children. “You have? What’s been the best thing so far today?”

Usually they reply with the name of a ride, a show, or a character. But the other day a little girl looked up at me and said, “What we’re doing right now!”

Everybody in earshot laughed, but the girl’s mother praised her for her good attitude, and I gave her a couple stickers because I don’t think I’m ever going to get as good an answer to that question as the one she gave me. That little princess was the embodiment of a mindset I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, which I think of as the “Chicken Man philosophy.”

Chicken Man is a children’s book by Michelle Edwards. It’s about a man who works at the chicken coop of an Israeli kibbutz. Every day, he sings as he works, making it clear that he enjoys his job. Soon the people around him start to think that taking care of chickens must be a very fun job, if their “Chicken Man” is so happy to do it. So someone else requests his job on the work list, and he’s sent elsewhere – to milk cows, iron clothes, take care of children, etc. But everywhere he goes, Chicken Man sings and has fun and makes the best of it, while the people who take on the jobs he leaves behind find them not all that inherently fun. Eventually, everyone realizes that it wasn’t the job that made him happy. It was Chicken Man’s attitude about work.

A few people have given me the advice, “bloom where you’re planted.” The idea is to be the best at any given role that you can be. Personally, though the idea is similar, I don’t like that saying as much as I like the Chicken Man philosophy. The implication that comes along with “bloom where you’re planted” is that someone will eventually notice your “bloom” and “pick” you to go somewhere better. But there is no guarantee that that will happen, and it’s easy to get burned out if you’re only doing something well because you think it will get you somewhere else that you’d rather be. Chicken Man has no lofty goals, though I have no doubt that if he happened to find something that he loved more than tending to chickens he’d be fine staying there. Like the princess I met in the bathroom, he knows how to find purpose and happiness wherever he is and no matter what he is doing. I find that admirable.

Cover Image Credit: Michelle Edwards

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​An Open Letter To The People Who Don’t Tip Their Servers

This one's for you.
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Dear Person Who Has No Idea How Much The 0 In The “Tip:" Line Matters,

I want to by asking you a simple question: Why?

Is it because you can't afford it? Is it because you are blind to the fact that the tip you leave is how the waiter/waitress serving you is making their living? Is it because you're just lazy and you “don't feel like it"?

Is it because you think that, while taking care of not only your table but at least three to five others, they took too long bringing you that side of ranch dressing? Or is it just because you're unaware that as a server these people make $2.85 an hour plus TIPS?

The average waiter/waitress is only supposed to be paid $2.13 an hour plus tips according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

That then leaves the waiter/waitress with a paycheck with the numbers **$0.00** and the words “Not a real paycheck." stamped on it. Therefore these men and women completely rely on the tips they make during the week to pay their bills.

So, with that being said, I have a few words for those of you who are ignorant enough to leave without leaving a few dollars in the “tip:" line.

Imagine if you go to work, the night starts off slow, then almost like a bomb went off the entire workplace is chaotic and you can't seem to find a minute to stop and breathe, let alone think about what to do next.

Imagine that you are helping a total of six different groups of people at one time, with each group containing two to 10 people.

Imagine that you are working your ass off to make sure that these customers have the best experience possible. Then you cash them out, you hand them a pen and a receipt, say “Thank you so much! It was a pleasure serving you, have a great day!"

Imagine you walk away to attempt to start one of the 17 other things you need to complete, watch as the group you just thanked leaves, and maybe even wave goodbye.

Imagine you are cleaning up the mess that they have so kindly left behind, you look down at the receipt and realize there's a sad face on the tip line of a $24.83 bill.

Imagine how devastated you feel knowing that you helped these people as much as you could just to have them throw water on the fire you need to complete the night.

Now, realize that whenever you decide not to tip your waitress, this is nine out of 10 times what they go through. I cannot stress enough how important it is for people to realize that this is someone's profession — whether they are a college student, a single mother working their second job of the day, a new dad who needs to pay off the loan he needed to take out to get a safer car for his child, your friend, your mom, your dad, your sister, your brother, you.

If you cannot afford to tip, do not come out to eat. If you cannot afford the three alcoholic drinks you gulped down, plus your food and a tip do not come out to eat.

If you cannot afford the $10 wings that become half-off on Tuesdays plus that water you asked for, do not come out to eat.

If you cannot see that the person in front of you is working their best to accommodate you, while trying to do the same for the other five tables around you, do not come out to eat. If you cannot realize that the man or woman in front of you is a real person, with their own personal lives and problems and that maybe these problems have led them to be the reason they are standing in front of you, then do not come out to eat.

As a server myself, it kills me to see the people around me being deprived of the money that they were supposed to earn. It kills me to see the three dollars you left on a $40 bill. It kills me that you cannot stand to put yourself in our shoes — as if you're better than us. I wonder if you realize that you single-handedly ruined part of our nights.

I wonder if maybe one day you will be in our shoes, and I hope to God no one treats you how you have treated us. But if they do, then maybe you'll realize how we felt when you left no tip after we gave you our time.

Cover Image Credit: Hailea Shallock

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More Burgers, More Food to Talk About

February of last year I wrote my very first post about Little Bad Wolf's highly underrated burger in Chicago. Give that one a read, my detail is comical – no joke.

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Since that tasty treat at Little Bad Wolf, there are others to share the spotlight and applaud! Here are my recent and ever-growing list of burgers to try when you are in the Chicago city limits.

Easter came early last year, April 1, and you bet I took full advantage to get a burger right after that day. I set my sights on Southport Corridor Brewery's burger. Listed at a reasonable $14, your plate presents itself with a double-steak patty, mustard herb mayonnaise, cheddar cheese, Detroit pickles, and a sesame bun! Pair that sandwich with a tasty beer on their rotating menu, and its lights out. Beer, burgers, and oh, did I mention their vinyl selection? Make it a top stop the next time you are in the area.

A few months later, enjoying a week away with the boys, we stopped at a local establishment in Richmond, IL called the Richmond Brathaus. They have a Hawaiian-take on what they title, the Maui Wowee, and boy was I floored from that creation. Swiss cheese, sautéed onions, cherry wood smoked bacon, grilled pineapple and cherry chipotle BBQ combine for what is an excellent sandwich – but to top it off, I got the "Haus fries," which contain chili and cheese – savory heaven. If you are just over the border in Wisconsin, map search "Richmond BratHaus," I guarantee you are going to like what you eat.

My last burger of 2018 was at a newer establishment in the West Loop from the West Coast (California), known as Ballast Point Brewery. The Ballast Point beers speak for themselves, from their "sculpin" line to specialty barrel aged, and rose-influenced beers. They are always top quality. On a cold winter night, there was nothing I wanted more than a delicious burger from this establishment. After a thorough look at the menu, my eyes kept wandering back to the West Coast Griddle Burger, which had American cheese, lettuce, tomato, caramelized onions, and "wonder" sauce on a brioche bun. They also offer you the option of three in-house sauces as dipping options for your fries. Do it. Even if it is not for the burger, go to the place, especially in the summer for their rooftop!

After four months, my journey for the best burgers in Chicago continues. I continually check Google for listings and names, making sure I am still on the best path. If you have any suggestions, feel free to shoot me a comment or message – recommendations are always welcomed by this guy. Until next time, keep eating, good eats!

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