Friday, October 5, 2018

Matt Bevin and The Burger Bar

Well, hi there. Have you missed me? I haven’t blogged in a very good long while. It’s really a combination of things. I’ve had a lot going on in the past months. But honestly, a lot of it is just plain laziness. However, I had something happen to me yesterday that I felt was so interesting and just plain cool that I had to blog about it. I’ll say to start that this is NOT a political discussion even though it involved our Kentucky governor.

While watching the news the other night, I saw Matt Bevin was going to do a community forum in the county where I live – Ballard County. The location was listed as 297 Event Center at 297 Kentucky Avenue in Kevil KY. I wasn’t sure where this was. I ran the address through Google Maps and I still wasn’t entirely sure where it was even though I had a general location. I could tell it was close to the old Red Plow restaurant used to be. It was also close to a place I love to get a burger from – The Burger Bar (more on that later).

Since this location was only five minutes from where I live, I just felt like I had to go. Donna would have loved to go, but she had prior commitments. So I made plans to go. After enjoying a lunch at Panera Bread with my friends Sam Hawkins and Ardell Nance, I headed for the location. I was able to find it with little trouble, it’s located in a building right next to the Burger Bar. As per my custom, I got there thirty minutes before the event was to start. I talked with Todd Cooper who used be the sheriff (and a really good one at that) for Ballard County and is now our Judge-Executive. What I most remember about him though was him being the head coach and me helping him with Josh’s 6th grade basketball team. I saw quite a few of Ballard County’s elected officials. I nodded at Casey Allen who was Josh’s Middle School principal (and a really good one) who is now the superintendent.

There were a lot of chairs arranged in front of a podium so I grabbed a seat near the front and settled in to wait. As with a lot of these affairs, it started late but the Governor finally made it. He asked for questions to start and when none were asked, he discussed various issues facing our state and his reasoning for positions on them. He then took questions from the crowd. This lasted for more than an hour. When it ended, I pushed my way up to talk to him and at least shake his hand and thank him for coming. He asked my name and when I told him, he asked “is that UA or EW”? It took me a second to realize what he meant. Turns out he has a brother with the same name as mine who spells it how it was meant to be spelled – STUART.

When we I had told Donna the day before that I would be there, she said “why don’t you grab supper from the Burger Bar since you’ll be right there?”. I didn’t have a problem with that. I’ve gotten food from there several times. They have a cheeseburger special on Thursday where you get a cheeseburger and fries for 5.00. They are hand patted burgers and they are excellent. Donna usually gets a chuckwagon and onion rings. They are good batter dipped onion rings. I made my order and settled down outside to wait (it’s a walk up type place with a few picnic tables scattered around). I watched people leaving the event center.

As I watched, I saw Matt Bevin come out to the car they came in. He opened its passenger door and removed his suit coat and put it inside. Then to my amazement, I saw him walking across the grass straight toward the Burger Bar! It turned out he wanted to talk to the two young men who own it and do a story on them about small business. I spoke to him again and told him we went there often and the food was great. He said he had another engagement that night with food to be served, but he would definitely get a milk shake. He pulled money out of his pocket to pay and even asked the people with him if anybody else wanted one.

I just had to make my move then. I asked him if he would mind taking a selfie with me. He readily agreed. Anybody who knows me knows I am terrible at this, so he offered to take my phone and do the honors. The picture above is what we got. I again thanked him for coming to our county. I told him my wife thought very highly of him and he laughed and said he certainly wasn’t worth all that praise. I finally left with my food. When I forwarded the selfie to Donna, she couldn’t believe it and wished so much she’d have been there.

I know he’s a polarizing figure in our state for some of the tough positions he’s taken. I respect him for the fact that he is a good family man. He has NINE kids. Four of them are children he and his wife adopted. He was a very down to earth kind of guy (unlike some politicians I’ve encountered) and he was just genuinely nice. I know he gave me a wonderful memory that I’ll certainly never forget.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

I Don't Wanna Grow Up...

The announcement came out last week that Toys-R-Us would be closing all of its stores (instead of just of some of them) over the next few months. This made me a bit sad since Toys-R-Us has been a big fixture in our lives for many years. The store we frequented the most was the one over by Kentucky Oaks Mall. I think (if I remember right) it opened soon after the mall really got going well. We went there a lot when the boys were young.

  • There would always be the latest video gaming consoles set up for kids who came in to play whatever new video game was available. I remember our sons playing on these many times when we went there. If someone was already playing a game on them, my sons would stand right behind them to encourage them to finish.

  • Whenever you wanted a particular toy, the place you could guarantee would have it was Toys-R-Us. Wal-Mart might have it, but Toys-R-Us pretty much always had whatever you were looking for.

  • When the Nintendo Wii came out, there were always massive lines to get one when each shipment arrived. I remember Josh going to wait there to get one and they ran out right as he got up to the head of the line. Amazingly, one more was produced “from the back” and he was able to get one.

  • Whenever I went on travel for my company, I would always go to Toys-R-Us in the place I visited to get the boys something. It become a running joke with my co-workers that after dinner “Stuart has to go to Toys-R-Us”. I would buy the boys metal trains from the Thomas the Tank Engine series and they each developed quite a collection of these.

  • “I don’t wanna grow up, I’m a Toys-R-Us kid”

My sister Melissa told me that as she was telling my nephew Brody that he needed to spend a Toys-R-Us gift card he had before the company went out of business, my niece Catherine overheard. She burst into tears and was inconsolable. My sister tried to explain to her that it wasn’t closing because people didn’t like the store but for other reasons. Catherine ended up making the sign below that she wanted to take to the store.

I didn’t burst into tears, but it makes me sad too.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Pick up...

I’ve run into several situations over the past few months where I have the capability to order something online and pick up at an actual brick and mortar storefront of some type. It’s proved interesting and I thought I’d relate how these worked.

The first is Wal-Mart. No doubt you’ve seen the orange signage by now designating where you go to pick up items that you’ve ordered online and requested for a particular Wal-Mart location. You submit your order on their website and indicate which Wal-Mart you will pick the item up at. You get an email when your item is ready to be picked up. I’ve found that Wal-Marts handle this differently based on the location. The Wal-Mart we regularly shop at (on Hinkleville Road) directs you to the back of the store to pick up an item. If you have the Wal-Mart app on your phone, you will begin to get a notification on your phone as you get closer asking if you are there to pick up your item. Indicating yes will alert them to go ahead and have the item retrieved. You simply then go to the back of the store, show them the email you received along with ID and get your item. Pretty easy.

My experience at the Southside Walmart was even better though. I had first stopped at the nearby Sonic (it was fifty cent corndog day). I began getting alerts from the Wal-mart app asking me if the item was ready for pickup. Once I finished eating, I said yes and entered the store. They have an actual pickup waiting area at the front of the store. There are several comfortable chairs to wait in as well as a status board to tell you if your order is on the way (you can also let them know you have arrived from that board if you did not from your phone). I had waited no more than a couple of minutes when a young lady arrived carrying my item. Even easier and more comfortable than the Hinkleville Road Wal-Mart.

I have been a member of the Panera Bread loyalty club for several months now. Two of the last three months, I have been given the reward of getting one free bagel each day. Since it is located near the above mentioned Hinkleville Road location of Wal-Mart, I took advantage of this multiple times. I used their app to arrange for “Rapid Pick Up” for my free bagel. You make the order, tell them of any customizations you want (I always want my bagel sliced for example), redeem your reward and make your order. There are several reserved parking spots at the front of the building for Rapid Pick Up. You park and head in and there is a designated area to pick up your order. You find the bag with your name on it and head out. Again, pretty easy. The only issue I ran into was that a couple of times, I found only a note that I should see someone at the cash register. Each time, it turned out they were out of the bagel I wanted, but they substituted another type for it. There appears to be a timing issue between their actual inventory and the app but I still would say this works well.

Finally, I needed a part for one of our cars. I got on the Auto Zone web site, put the in the Year, Make, Model and Engine Type and you are given the part you need to order. You specify that you want to pick it up at the store and make your order. You receive a confirmation email when it’s ready to be picked up. I ordered right before closing and first thing in the morning, I got my confirmation. Donna and I stopped there. I went in and gave my name. They looked up the order and brought me my part. Donna timed the whole process while I was inside and said it took less than two minutes. Again, pretty easy.

I’ll have to say I was pleasantly surprised at how this works. I didn’t run into issues anywhere except the minor one with having to get a different bagel than I ordered.