From the complex mind of a two and a half year old

Maly walked into the office this afternoon, went straight to the bookshelf and pulled down the English/Spanish dictionary. She turned and sat down at her little desk and opened the book.

Witnessing this endeavor, I stopped and with a a chuckle, asked, “You going to read that book?”

“Nope. I’m checking my website.”

Short Greeks

I found a photocopy of this article in a box of old frames at my mom’s house this afternoon. It’s a republished article written by Mike Royko in The Chicago Daily News. This article really resonated with my dad towards the end of his career and shortly before he died a little over two years ago.

Shortage of short Greeks ruining us
By Mike Royko
The Chicago Daily News published this column on Dec. 5, year unknown

The moment we sat down for lunch, I knew it was a mistake. It was one of those cute new yuppie-poo restaurants with ferns and a menu that listed calories.

I knew it was an even bigger mistake when five minutes passed before the busboy dropped the silverware and napkins in front of us.

About 10 minutes later, I snared a waitress as she was hurrying by and asked: “Is there any chance we can see a menu?”

“I’m so sorry,” she said. “We’re short-handed. One of the girls didn’t show up today.”

When she finally brought the food it wasn’t what I had ordered.

“There are some problems in the kitchen,” she said. “We have a new cook.”

“Never mind,” I said. “I’ll eat it, whatever it is. But what about the beer?

“Oh, I forgot, you wanted a beer,” she said. The beer arrived just in time to wash down the last bite of the sandwich.

When she brought the check, which was wrong because she charged me for what I ordered instead of what I got, I asked: “Who runs this place?”

“The manager?” she said. “He’s in the end booth having lunch.”

On the way out, I stopped at the manager’s booth. He was a yuppie in a business suit. He and a clone were leisurely sipping their coffee and looking at a computer print-out.

“Nice place you have here,” I lied. “Do you own it?”

The young man shook his head. It was owned by one of those big corporations that operates restaurants in far-flung office buildings and health clubs.

He also proudly told me that he had recently left college with a degree in restaurant and hotel management.

That explained it all. His waitresses were short-handed, his cook was goofing up the orders, the customers were fuming, and what was he doing?

He was having lunch. Or, as he’d probably say, he was doing lunch.

I don’t want to be an alarmist, but when this nation collapses, he and those like him will be the cause.

First, we had the MBA – especially the Harvard MBA – who came along after World War II and took over American industry. With his bottom-line approach, the MBA did such a brilliant job that the Japanese might soon buy the whole country and evict us.

But we’re told not to worry. Now that we don’t manufacture as much as we used to, we’ll be saved by the growing service industry.

The problem is that the service industry is being taken over by people like the restaurant manager and his corporation. They go to college and study service. Then they install computers programmed for service. And they have meetings and look at service charts and graphs and talk about service.

But what they don’t do is provide service. That’s because they are not short Greeks.

You probably wonder what that means. I’ll explain.

If that corporation expects the restaurant to succeed, it should fire the young restaurant-hotel degree holder. Or demote him to cleaning washrooms.

It should then go to my friend Sam Sianis, who owns Billy Goat’s Tavern, and say: “Do you know a short Greek that wants to manage a restaurant?”

Sam will say: “Shoo. I send you one my cousins. Jus’ got here from the old country.”

Then he’d go to Greek Town and tell his cousin, who works as a waiter, that his big chance had come.

When the next lunch hour rolled around, and a waitress failed to show up for work, Sam’s cousin would not sit down to do lunch. He would put on an apron and wait tables himself.

If the cook goofed up orders, Sam’s cousin would go into the kitchen, pick up a cleaver, and say, “You want I keel you?”

He wouldn’t know how to read a computer printout, but he’d get drinks in the glasses, food on the table, and money in the cash register.

That simple approach is why restaurants run by short Greeks stay in business and make money. And why restaurants that are run by corporations and managed by young men who are educated beyond their intelligence come and go. And mostly go.

So if you are ever approached by a stockbroker who wants to sell you shares in any of the giant service corporations, tell him not to bother showing you the annual report. Just ask him one question.

“Is it run by short Greeks?”

If he says no, leave your money under the mattress.

My dad framed this article. I really wish he was still here with us. I have so many questions that I still want to ask him.

Short Greeks

Home after a weekend at Grandma’s

We just got back from a weekend at mom’s place. We left on Friday for Grandma’s around 5:30 p.m. and although Maly was well behaved in the car, she was really anxious to get there. We pulled into the driveway right at 7:30, ran in to get mom and then we loaded into the car again to head over to Crossroads for fried catfish.

After eating, we headed back to the house and tried to put Maly down after cleaning up. I think she was a little too excited to be at her Grandma’s house and didn’t want to go to bed. She wanted her mom, grandma and me to all tell her stories. We think she finally fell asleep at 11 p.m.

The grown-ups stayed up and chatted and watched TV. Maly woke up at her usual time on Saturday morning. My mom and I got up with her and I tried to let Elise sleep in a little bit. Most of my day consisted of repairing a wooden arbor for my mom’s courtyard, spreading mulch and playing with Maly.

Later that evening I cooked steak au poivre for the girls. After dinner Maly was pooped and no problems conking out.

On Sunday Elise let me sleep in. Once I woke up we all had breakfast and it was back to the arbor again. Elise and Maly walked over to the fenceline to watch the neighbors horses. We all took a break, went inside and played memory with Maly. Mom grilled pork loin medallions on her George Foreman grill for lunch and Maly went down for a nap shortly after.

Once Maly got up, she and I played with R/C car on the side patio, then it was time to get ready to go. We headed out around 5:30 and Maly did pretty well until we were about half an hour to our house. She to us she missed her grandma and wanted grandma to hold her. It was really sad to see Maly miss her grandma so much, fortunately she was quickly distracted by the iPhone and the reminder that she was going to get home soon and get to play with her cats.

So, it was a fun yet fast weekend.

What’s your name?

We’re all sitting in the living room watching Charlie Brown’s Valentine’s Day special. Maly chimes in and asks some important questions.

“Grandma, what’s your name?”


“Mommy, what’s your name?”


“JOSH!, what’s your name?”