Are you ASKING me or TELLING me?

Sometime in the summer of 2005, Msgr. Mark Hagemoen (my predecessor as Director of the Youth Ministry Office and then serving as Vicar General for the Archdiocese) came into my office and shut the door behind him. I knew it was going to be serious.

“Clay,” Father Mark started, “We are going to second (as in secondment…not as in “after first”) Rob to the Chancery to serve as an assistant to Archbishop Roussin.”

At the time, Rob was the administrator of the YMO and in essence, my right-hand man. Needless to say, I was very shocked.

I respectfully countered “Are you asking me or telling me?”

Father Mark’s reply made it clear in no uncertain terms: “I would much rather work in cooperation than opposition.”

The writing was on the wall, and I respectfully and obediently accepted the proposal. After all, who was I to question the diocesan leadership? Rob’s temporary secondment became a permanent transfer after close to 10 years of Rob working for the YMO. However, it’s worked out extremely well for everyone, as Rob is now serving as the assistant for Archbishop Miller, and I’ve been blessed to work with people like Krissy, Sharon and Faye. To this day, Father Mark and I still chuckle about how much “say” I had in the process.

Fast forward to this past Saturday: I took our 3 kids to a play-date at the Estradas while Gail tutored in our home. I received a very generous offer from my friend Mike to go to that night’s highly-anticipated hockey game between our red-hot Canucks and the Conference-leading San Jose Sharks. Coming a day after our entire family received comp tickets to the Vancouver Giants game; I was giddy with my good fortune.

Knowing we had planned for a nice family night at home that evening, yet also knowing of my absolute love for watching the Canucks live (especially when I don’t have to pay for the ticket), I anticipated it being a tough sell to 2 of my family members in particular. Contrary to popular belief, I’m not talking about Jacob and Kayla.

I pulled Sean aside and asked him if he knew who the Canucks were playing that evening.

“Of course” Sean answered. “They’re playing the Sharks. It’s going to be a great game.”

Summoning strength similar to my encounter with Father Mark almost 4 years ago, I then asked Sean “Is it okay if Daddy goes to the game?”

That’s right…I actually ASKED my 7 yead-old son if I, his 34 year-old Dad, could go to the game. I stopped just short of asking him to brush my teeth and tuck me in when I got home.

Sean’s eyes filled with tears, and I knew they weren’t tears of joy.

“Yes, Daddy. You can go.” I figured that Sean was upset for 2 main reasons: that he couldn’t go to the game with me, and more generally that we wouldn’t be together that night. Sweet kid, that Sean.

Then, I picked up the phone to call my lovely wife.

“Honey…Mike asked me to go to the Canucks’ game toinght. Can I go?”

Recalling our plans for a family night, Gail and I went back and forth for a few minutes on the phone. She didn’t care that the Canucks had turned their season around with an impressive run of wins. Or that San Jose is one of the premiere teams in the league. Or even that I didn’t have to pay for the ticket.

“I guess so” she replied. “Besides, are you asking me or telling me?”

My answer was hardly clarifying: “Uh, thanks babe!” Sweet woman, that Gail!

I was (and am) very grateful for my wonderful family. Gail in particular takes really good care of me, and hardly says no without good reason. Some would call me spoiled. I prefer to use the term “blessed.” And “deserving” haha. The night turned out great, as the Canucks won 3-1 in an entertaining tilt, and the boys had their cousins over to play all night while Gail and Kayla did whatever females like to do.

As for me, I find it quite amusing that I ended up TELLING my wife that I was going to the game, but ASKING my son for permission.

I guess that’s what happens when your son is a 2-time Ultimate Canucks Fan winner!

Tipping Suggestions…From the Restaurant Itself!

Most of my friends know that I am a decent tipper. It comes from my experience working as a busboy and a general appreciation for the majority of people who work in the service industry. You may recall me writing about it in my blog “Tip or No Tip” just under a year ago.

General consensus now is that 15% is about average…the range being as low as 10% in certain types of restaurants to 18% – 20% is on the higher side. Now, one could argue that there is no obligation to leave any type of tip, but that’s not the point of this blog.

Many restaurants automatically the gratuity for groups of 8 people or more. Again, I’ve seen a range from 15% to 20% for this practice. One might reason that a restaurant shouldn’t dictate the tip, but I can also certainly see why they do it. Group bills are a wonderful way for lesser tippers to employ their strategy of “maybe if I just sit here and pay the minimum, someone else will cover my portion too!” Then, some poor soul is always left to cover the short-fall.

One of the worst examples of automatic tipping was during a family vacation in Whistler. After a nice dinner at a fancy restaurant for about 20 of us, the bill came with a 15% tip added (no biggie) and a card reading: “In Canada, it is customary to leave a tip of 15% blah blah blah.” Now, this was indeed a biggie. Granted, we were a table of Asians, but we were speaking English the entire time (not that I can speak another language…haha) and needless to say, were quite offended that they presumed we were from another country and that we had no notion of the concept of tipping.

And just yesterday, after enjoying a decent fish and chips (it’s a Friday in Lent) lunch at a restaurant near my office, the bill came with 3 suggestions for tips at the bottom. Usually I just triple the GST of 5% to make 15%, round up to nearest dollar, and I’m done. But just in case I wanted to be more generous, the bill actually listed both the tip amount and resulting totals for 15%, 18% and 20%.

At first, I was taken aback given my prior experiences with tipping suggestions. But upon reflecting on it further, it is actually a brilliant idea, as it certainly helps those that aren’t great with math.

However, you’ll still have to guess-timate or pull out a calculator if you wanted to leave a tip of 16%, 17&, or 19% or anything less than !5% or above 21%. There simply isn’t room to list all options. Otherwise, the bill would be longer than your arm!

Describing our Kids: Is the glass half-full or half-empty?

During one of our treks out earlier today, my lovely wife Gail and I were discussing our 3 wonderful children. Like always when we’re in our van, Sean and Jake were in the back row watching their movie and playing their Nintendo DSs while Kayla was alone in the middle row babbling, laughing, and pulling her shoes and socks off. Needless to say, there was enough going on whereas the 3 of them couldn’t hear (at least we hope not…haha) what we were saying.

So today I came up with yet another “useless and dorky but kinda funny” Clay-games for us to play.

“How would you describe each of our kids in 1 or 2 words?” I asked her. It goes without saying that we adore our children and are very blessed by them. But that shouldn’t stop us from having a little fun as well!

Gail and I interchanged responses, and it was pretty hilarious. One of us went with the optimistic, half-glass full mentality while the other chose the more challenging half-glass empty approach.

Here were our collective responses:

-Sean: smart and sensitive, know-it-all

-Jacob: handsome ladies-man, hard to handle and a clown

-Kayla: beautiful, drama-queen

As per usual with these types of things, there is likely a bit of truth in all of the responses, hopefully more to be found in the “glass half-full” replies. I won’t say which one of us gave which responses, as I don’t want to incriminate anyone…haha. Regardless, we enjoyed a good chuckle at their (or is it ours?) expense.

Now…what would happen if we asked our kids to describe us?

Maybe I don’t want to know!