Weirdly, you are one of the few people that I feel it would be easier to say this face to face, rather than via letter. Do you remember the last time I wrote you a letter? Or, more accurately, the only other time I ever wrote you a letter? It was my letter of resignation. I was so disillusioned when I decided to leave Awada’s. That was a hard time in my life. Even though I was quitting, I still expected you to be upset at losing me. Maybe you were, I don’t know. But you didn’t show it and I was hurt by that. Instead, what you said to me was “this is definitely for the best, you’ll be better off somewhere else”. I remember when you said that, it pissed me off. I thought you were being an asshole.
But you weren’t. You were being serious. You really could tell that it was time for me to move on. I’d passed the point where I could continue to learn from you and I was unhappy. My life was in turmoil and full of change. I had a terrible time deciding to quit because it meant more change. However, it was that change that lead me to some of the best days of my life. I wouldn’t have been able to get where I am today without making that huge change.
Furthermore, I’d never have gotten to that point without you and your influence in my life. Let’s be honest, you were a hard guy to work for. You were crazy and strange and played favorites, I’m pretty sure these things are still true, but now I find them endearing . I always felt a little off balance around you and never like I was one of your favorites. But then I figured something out. Every single person that you counted as a “favorite” was friends…with me. Just like that, one day, I realized that it didn’t matter if I was in the cool group, because people I care about love me. And just like that, I stopped trying to win your approval.
In my mind, that felt like a snub to you. Like you would suffer because I no longer wanted to be part of your clique. Then something unexpected happened. When I stopped trying to win you over, we were able to talk as equals and we became friends. I never expected that. And that was another lesson for me.
I could go on for days about the things I learned working for you, it was quite the educational time in my life. But the things that are truly important, the lessons I learned in my four years at your restaurant, they stick with me. Sometimes in the years since, a boss would drive me nuts. Then I’d think, “that’s nothing, remember the time Greg did ______________?” And I always laugh because, well, what else are you going to do but laugh at a guy who leaves his busy restaurant to drive around town to see if other restaurants are busier?
On a serious note, Greg, I’m glad that I wandered into your restaurant and randomly applied for a job. Not only did I learn a great deal working for you, but I met some of my best friends under that roof. I made lifelong memories at the Grille. And I still have all my buddhas to help those memories stay fresh.
Thank you for being part of my life,
(to see why I am doing this, read here)