We had a day from hell! There is no other way to say it.
Today we, the White Team and some helpful members of other teams, served over 100 winter residents a spaghetti dinner. Day old spaghetti at that!
As I told you yesterday we cooked the spaghetti yesterday ONLY because that is the way the Spaghetti Lady, hereafter known as SL, always did it. I'm now a firm believer that the "usual way" is not always the best way.
So our day started at nine. We set up the tables and chairs, put the white plastic tablecloths in place, set out the plastic cutlery and salt and pepper shakers. Done, one task down, a thousand to go. Next came cutting up the veggies for the salads. Lucille and I washed all the lettuce and started tearing it into bite size pieces all the while keeping an eye on the mini golf course because I had to play at 10:15. Since that was nearly done at Tee-Time I had no qualms about leaving for the 25 minutes it would take me to play. My partner and I had a pretty good round, little did I know that this would be one of the few highlights of my day!
Lee and Bob made sure the drinks, iced tea and lemonade, were made, ice was ready in the cooler and cups set out on the drinks table. Another task down.
Bread, we don't have bread. DeAnn sent word from the Activities Office that bread still had to be picked up and Robin who was filling in for one of the White Team members volunteered to go to Casa Grande to get it. In the meantime, we were done all we could do. The roasters were plugged in, warming the spaghetti sauce, the salad fixins' were all cut and in the fridge so we agreed to return at 2:30 to start warming up the spaghetti from yesterday and finish all the rest of tasks to be able to start serving at five. So far so good. Trust me, if I had known what was to come I would have gotten in the truck heading towards I-10 and kept right on going.
At 1:30 the phone rang. It was a call to come in to the Cantina, that it had been determined that we weren't going to be ready in time? WHAT??? Why not????
So I walk into the Cantina and I find the bread being cut and buttered and ready for the oven for the garlic bread. It's only 1:30....why is the garlic bread being baked already I wondered. There were four or five of us there and we all had our own ways of making garlic bread. We had major decisions to make. Do we slice it? Do we cut in half lengthwise and then cut it in slices? Do we broil it? Do we wrap it in the foil and bake it on low for an hour? Decisions, decisions! This normally wouldn't have rattled me but I had major doubts about this whole dinner anyway because we cooked the spaghetti yesterday, remember this is the way SL had done it for years. I had visions of the noodles coming out of the fridge in huge blobs stuck together like they had been coated with superglue! It was suggested we broil the garlic bread, wrap it in foil and then put it in a roaster to keep warm. Fine, at this point I don't care. We tried that. Time got away and the first two loaves kinda, sorta, burned. I panicked. One team member assured me it was OK that she actually preferred it that way. Hmmm...charred bread, I don't think so. It was finally determined that we would slice lengthwise, cut in slices all the way through, wrap in foil paper and put in the oven at four o'clock. All 22 loaves at the same time. Again, at this point I don't care.
Our next dilemma, when (if ?) we get the spaghetti heated through, AGAIN, how will we keep it warm until serving time? After all, SL always served the noodles and then ladled sauce over it. We thought and thought. (I think it best for all of mankind if I keep the thoughts going through my head to myself at this time. Let's just say I made sure I stayed away from the sharp knives.)
Big pots of boiling water were on the stove ready for the noodles. Lee took the foil off the first tray of day old noodles and grabbed a rubber gloved handful. As he picked it up the entire contents of the tray came with noodles in his hand. The vision in my head was a three story tall tube of Superglue! As we looked at little closer we noticed little tear drop shapes on the ends of the noodles. ICE! Not only do we have a tray of day old sticky noodles, we have a tray of FROZEN day old sticky noodles. The Activities gods were not looking kindly down upon me! Why oh why couldn't SL's
specialty have been bologna sandwiches? Dry bologna sandwiches, no decisions to be made if they are made with mustard or mayo....just dry.
DeAnn and I decided that the heck with the old way, we're going to put the noodles in the roaster pans of sauce and have extra containers of sauce to ladle over the plates of spaghetti if the diners wanted more of the red stuff.
OK, its a little after four, the small apartment sized kitchen is abuzz with activity, huge bowls of salad are being tossed, loaves of foiled bread are in the oven, handful after handful of frozen globs of spaghetti are being lowered into boiling water and I have a headache the size of Arizona's Grand Canyon!
Four thirty: Questions are being thrown at me from every side. Diners are arriving already with their bottles of wine in hand. Now I'm not a drinker but I was tempted to grab one of them and chug-a-lug right from the bottle. This dinner has thrown me for a loop! I'm usually a very good event organizer, ask any of our Delaware friends, they'll tell you!
The dining room is filling up, people are talking and laughing and I stood there with visions of tiny little kamikaze pilots dive bombing the inventor of spaghetti.
Five o'clock: Everyone is seated, the serving lines are ready (?) and DeAnn got on the microphone to welcome everyone and to say grace.
It's time to start serving. I put a smile on, you have no idea how hard that was, and greeted each of our "guests" as they came through the line. I was one of the servers of spaghetti and I was a little nervous about SL being in my serving line. When she got close enough to see the noodles were already in the sauce and not separate as in years past, I equated the look with someone expecting a dinner of filet mignon with a lobster tail on the side served on fine china and instead finding those tiny little cocktail weiners and black eyed peas served in a metal Army mess kit! I just smiled and welcomed her, I didn't know what else to do. I felt bad that we changed the way things were done in the past but we just couldn't figure out how to duplicate the way things were done before.
Its over. Its done. Surprisingly enough we got rave reviews from the diners. Nothing but good comments. There is a God!
A hearty thank you to all of the Activities Team Members that helped yesterday. The White Team couldn't have done it without you!
Oh yeah, when SL left, I got a "thumbs up"! So its all good.