Let me tell you about Gladys. There are so many different ways to describe Gladys that I don't even know where to begin. She is our own little chocolate shop diva with enough drama to put Mariah Carey's New Year's Eve hot mess to shame. She is a salty old dame with enough miles on her she can pretty much do what ever she pleases. Trust me that is exactly what she does. Or perhaps the better phrase should be exactly what she doesn't do.
Like any female she in an incredible hard worker, giving you her absolute best most of the time. But make no mistake, just when you think you have her all figured out and life is running smoothly the bottom drops out. Figuratively speaking of course. Actually not. Literally speaking the bottom drops off or scrapes off our chocolates.
Gladys as we affectionately call her is our Hilliard Chocolate Enrober. A lovely old work horse that we acquired used some 25 years or so ago. She works hard for us day after day as we push her to cover thousands and thousands of centers with silky smooth liquid chocolate. We have a cantankerous relationship with Gladys. Most days we love her dearly when she is behaving herself and life is good. She is after all part of the family.
There are times when suddenly for no reason at all Gladys just decides to act up. It's like working with a 15 year old teenage girl. One minute sweet as pie and the next minute head spinning, eyes bulging, hair on fire over who knows what. Chocolates exiting the cooling tunnel with a beautiful tempered shine can change to a dull flat brown in a New York minute. Or there are just those days where Gladys seems just a tweak off. We can stare at the kettle temperature for hours, check the room temperature, check the tunnel temperature and then do the whole darn thing over again. I like to call this Gladys "Menopause Gladys". She has no idea what temperature she is and that is subject to change 20 different times in a half hour. It's like she feels old and washed up and underappreciated. Sure there are other newer younger versions of her out there. Shiny and gorgeous to look at with all the new computer bling. But does that really negate good ol' solid Gladys who has been with us for years? Through the good and bad she has stuck by our side. So she might not move as fast and steady as she used to but she is a classic for sure. The good thing? Gladys can always have a make over. When her parts are starting to sag we just need to order up a little nip and tuck and she is back on track to be the Enrober Diva she is meant to be. I like to think of her as the Dolly Parton of the Hilliard Chocolate community.
Somehow, and I have yet to figure this one out. Gladys is directly hard wired to both my Dad and my sister Shelly. When we are in the thick of it and Dad is trying really hard to push a lot of product through the machine Gladys knows. As a chocolate enrober with Croation roots she keeps a score card. (Just like my grandmother and some other female people in our family). She is forgiving. But. She. Never. Forgets. Something within her wires trigger a stutter in a belt, a skip in a chain. A little warning that even though you think you are running the show she is indeed in charge. We respond by trying to quickly right what ever is wrong. What can we get you Gladys? What can we do to make you happy so you don't just stop on us? A little more chocolate in the back to melt? A tiny tweak of temperature perhaps? A desperate scurry by Shelly and staff to keep things moving and smooth before Dad comes back around for his next "Lord of the Manor" walk around the grounds. We are either successful or we are not. When we are not it makes for a difficult day.
This brings me to a side story. I can remember when we were little at my grandparents house waiting for Sunday night dinner. Five crazy little kids waiting to be fed. The phone would ring and after Grandma would hang up and say. "Grandpap is on his way home. The enrober broke down today." Da da da dum. In other words Grandpap would soon come through the door, tired, cranky and we darn well better behave.
So Gladys acts up, I loot at Dad's face and I am immediately back in time trying to behave. I'm 54 years old for cryin out loud. I still worry about behaving?
I love Gladys. She's like my old Great Aunt Sophie (God rest her soul) sitting at the table, puffing on a cigarette, sipping a screw driver all the while hooked up to an oxygen tank struggling for each breath. There we sat next to her just wondering how many more breaths she hadbefore she either died or blew up right in front of us.
And so life with Gladys is simply like life with any other woman. Appreciate her, take care of her, let her rest. Other wise you have no idea what you are going to wake up to.