Thirty seven years is a long time to run a restaurant and during that time one of the best things that happens is you meet a lot of interesting and incredible folks. I want to tell you about one incredible person that we lost on Easter. It’s been long enough that I can’t remember the exact date, but sometime around 1976 we hired a dishwasher at Country’s named Daniel Smith. Dish washing is one of the most important jobs in any restaurant. Let the dishwasher walk out and see how long orders go out or let the dishwasher do a poor job and watch your guests walk out. In addition, the dishwasher has the saftey of your guests in his or her hands. That being said, dishwashers do tend to come and go because it’s a hard hard job with lots of pressure and lots of folks griping at you. Daniel stayed in the job for over 35 years, missed almost no days from work, was always honest, always worked hard and was always proud of his job.
If you come in Country’s on Mercury maybe you knew Daniel or saw him working in his camo shirts with the top cut out of a garbage bag and placed over his head in place of an apron — said it kept him dryer. Daniel always came in early and made the strongest cup of coffee he could and then talked about how many bad people there are in the world and reported on any bad things he’d seen on TV the day before. Sometimes Daniel would talk too long and we’d be a little short with him as we hurried around trying to be important — but overall Daniel was a member of our family and everyone tried to look after him as best we could. Dot, Scott and Kelley were always there for Daniel.
At Christmas we all gave Daniel presents but the neatest thing was the joy Daniel had in buying presents for others. He never had much from a material standpoint but loved to buy presents and would give you anything he had if you needed it. At the same time he was a tough cookie and most folks knew better than to cross him.
You know he was a tough cookie when you consider he worked as a dishwasher for over 30 years — well into his seventies. I can personally tell you that in his seventies Daniel could work circles around any young person and did so daily. He was always on hand for special events — Midnight Express or Reindeer Run –Daniel was there. Daniel lived near our office and you’d better not be doing anything wrong there or you’d have to deal with him.
You might have noticed there is no picture with this blog. I tried for years to take a picture of Daniel. Whenever he was employee of the month Daniel would not allow a photo. He said he believed that taking a photo stole your spirit — so be it Daniel — your spirit was never stolen and will be with us always.