Burgers in the Northern Burbs

Every Friday, Roots in Alpharetta features an article on food and dining in a series I like to call Foodie Friday.

I had a marketing professor in college who asked our class the following question… “How many of you can make a better hamburger than McDonalds?” Nearly everyone in the class raised their hand. “Then why don’t you start a restaurant and put them out of business?” Okay, so the question was rhetorical. The answer was that McDonalds was all about marketing and locations. You’d never be able to compete against them, right?

Fast forward to today. I think of that goofy professor every time I see one of these high end burger joints. Actually, I think of him every time I drive by the Five Guys on Windward. They opened shop literally in the shadow of a McDonalds, and they have been killin’ it for several years now. So what gives?

The answer is that burgers are a fad now. High end burger joints have been opening in Atlanta for a few years now. I think the fad inside the perimeter is starting to wane a bit. But out here in the northern burbs, the burger craze is at its greasy peak. Just in the last week another burger joint opened in Johns Creek.

Here is my review of the higher end stuff. If dropping a ten spot on a grease sandwich isn’t your bag, don’t fret. I’ll wrap this post up with some cheaper burger options that are delicious and relatively unknown.

Flippin’ Out – Johns Creek

Probably my favorite of the newer joints to open. This aspiring chain restaurant cranks out some seriously delicious charcoal burgers. I don’t know of anywhere else in the northern burbs cooking over hardwood charcoal right now. The meat is juicy, smokey and wonderful. The fries are fresh cut and the onion rings are to die for. Drawbacks are price and service.

Kozmo Gastro Pub – Johns Creek

I’m too sexy for your suburb. This is an uber-trendy bar/restaurant that somehow got lost in Johns Creek. They probably belong in Midtown somewhere. And while burgers are not really their thing, the burger here is amazing. They hand-form patties out of sirloin and brisket. The coarse cracked peppercorn coating makes the thing taste like steak au poivre on a bun.

The Counter – Roswell

Roswell has the only Georgia location of this California-based chain. Their deal is the build-your-own custom burger. The topping choices are way over-the-top. Gruyere cheese, grilled pineapple, fried egg, cranberries, apricot sauce… on a burger? Yeah, they got all that and a lot more.You can go overboard on toppings here, so be careful. They will also under-cook a burger, if that is your thing.

I enjoyed my burger here. The fires and onion straws left a lot to be desired. This place is also insanely expensive. I could take my family to Longhorn for what I spent here.

Red Robin – Cumming

Another chain from out west. I used to eat at Red Robin when I traveled to Seattle. Was excited to see them open a store near me at the Avenue Forsyth. Now that they’ve been open a few years novelty has worn off. This place lacks the sophistication of the places above. They are more of a family atmosphere chain joint with huge burgers. I dig the unlimited steak fries although they are usually undercooked. And even though Red Robin is cheaper than the high end joints, I still feel like they overcharge relative to the burger product they’re putting out.

Cheeseburger Bobby’s – Johns Creek

I’ll admit that I haven’t been here yet. They just opened a location in Johns Creek near Kohls. From what I’ve read, they sound like a cross between Five Guys and Fuddruckers. The burgers are supposed to be similar to Five Guys in quality and price, but the toppings are added like you’d do at Fuddruckers. It will be interesting to watch this place, considering that a Five Guys location is just a tad north on 141. There are also other burger joints along 141 in Johns Creek and south Forsyth that I haven’t reviewed (BB’s Best Burgers, Hangry’s, Ted’s, etc). Johns Creek is saturated with hamburgers. I don’t think all these places will survive.

…on the low end

So have you had enough of the hoity toity burger? Fear not. If you hunt around you’ll find some decent joints serving up traditional burgers on the cheap. I’ll bet you’ve not heard of half of these places.

Hamburger Hut – Alpharetta

A burger like you’d make it at home. Just simple, hand made patties served with buttered and grilled sandwich bread. Simple, easy and quite delicious. This place is real similar to a now-closed joint called Burger House (Windward and Hwy 9 near Taco Mac). There is no decor to speak of, nothing fancy and no over-the-top ingredients. Just a simple burger on delicious bread at a cheap price.

Mulligan’s Grill – Midway/South Forsyth

Here you’ll find a local/blue collar crowd that is far removed from what you’d see at Kozmo’s. I liked my Mulligan burger and I liked the tater tots. And the food service chicken fingers are surprisingly good. Cheap!

Garden Spot Cafe – Windward/Alpharetta

The ultimate hidden restaurant. This one-man operation is located in an office park across the street from Lexis-Nexis/Choicepoint and a block off Windward. It is small, a tad on the dirty side, greasy, fast and very cheap. The prices are less than fast food for a decent burger and fries. I swing by from time to time if I’m in a hurry and want something to bring back to the cubicle. For the money, it is hard to beat.

Beating Atlanta Traffic

I wish I had a silver bullet I could share, or some unheard of trick to beating traffic. I don’t. So the subject of this post is a little of a misnomer I guess. Maybe these are just general observations I’ve made after living here for a dozen years.

GA-400

I used to commute down 400 in a previous life/job. I believe the traffic situation here is a lot better than it used to be. That’s probably not a comfort to those fighting it these days. The widening effort of a few years ago has helped, but I think it just moved the bottleneck from Haynes Bridge north to McFarland.  In cases of major backup, GA-9 can be an alternative for limited distances.

Traffic Reports on the Radio

Practically worthless. Unless there is a traffic catastrophe, you’re better off tuning out Captain Herb et al. I’d suggest checking the Georgia Navigator website before you hit the interstates. Leave the radio off or put on something soothing to calm your road-raged nerves.

MARTA

More worthless than the traffic reports. Suburbanites know how much of a time killer MARTA truly is. And on top of that, we would never go sans auto for the entire day!

The most ridiculous part of MARTA is these park and ride lots. What a waste of real estate. So I’m supposed to get in my car, fight traffic to the Windward lot, get out and wait, hop a bus to North Springs, wait, then get on a train which will only take me most of the way to work? I don’t think so. MARTA ain’t smarta, its just plain stupid.

Surface Streets

Do not underestimate the amount of traffic you’ll face once leaving GA-400. I find this particularly true in Forsyth County where the number of four lane roads is very small. Forsyth is probably fifteen years behind north Fulton on road building and widening efforts.

Surface streets always broke up the monotony for me. It was like a game trying to find the quickest path from home to GA-400. My tip here is to look for “No Thru Trucks” signs. These signs should really say “hidden two lane road that leads somewhere else”.

Schools

Everyone knows traffic lets up in the summertime once school gets out. That first Monday of the summer break is beautiful. It is like Moses parting the GA-400 traffic. Speed limit drives in the morning! Hallelujah!

Watch the schools on the surface streets. You don’t want to be driving through active school zones. This is especially true on rainy days when every SUV in the county is waiting to turn left into the one school on your commute. If necessary, adjust your commute times to avoid schools.

East/West Commutes

I’m amazed at how many people commute east/west across the northern burbs. I work with a lot of people who live in Gwinnett or Cherokee and commute to Alpharetta. My best advice here is to watch the river! There are a limited number of places to cross the Chattahoochee River, many of which are still two lane roads. The “No Thru Trucks” trick ain’t gonna help you here! My advice… cross the river as far to the south as you can.

Best Way to Win is Not to Play

Beating Atlanta’s traffic is a myth. The best you can really hope for is to break up the monotony. My advice it to simply reduce or eliminate your commute all together. Easier said than done? Not really. I mentioned in a previous post that we choose where we live and we choose where we work. Don’t choose to have those far apart! If you think you’ve found the ideal location for work, then move closer. I live five miles from my Windward office and I love it! On the other hand, my father-in-law has worked for the same company in Lawrenceville for twenty years. He has commuted from Conyers, on surface roads, that entire time. This takes a tremendous toll after a while and I don’t know why we continue with it.

If you think you’ll be switching jobs every few years but will remain in Atlanta, you should live in Dunwoody or Sandy Springs. I believe this is the ideal spot for commuting. You’re within easy reach of downtown, midtown, Cobb, Gwinnett or North Fulton.

If you’re gonna move based on commute, do your homework! My wife and I once considered a neighborhood on McGinnis Ferry road. On the weekend we were house hunting, it seemed like a great location. Then I thought about 5:00 traffic. Turning left out of this neighborhood was impossible at rush hour. Before you get any house under contract, go visit the neighborhood during the morning commute!

Move Your Commute Times

Most companies that are even mildly progressive with their employee relations will let you adjust work hours. If you cannot move your job or home, this is your best alternative. Hitting GA-400 before sunrise, and again at 3:00 or so will all but insure you a speed limit drive. If this gets to be too much, then fall back to a more normal 8-to-5 commute once school lets out. Combine this with a semi-regular work-from-home regiment for maximum traffic busting!

What Would Alpharetta Look Like Without the Recession

Close your eyes for a minute and imagine what Alpharetta would look if we were not in the midst of a recession. What do you see? More houses? Probably. More traffic? For sure!

I got to thinking about this recently, specifically in regard to commercial real estate. Sure, there are dozens of half built neighborhoods out there. Many have streets paved and sewer lines sticking out. It will take years for those to be revived again. But there are a bunch of stalled, slowed or just shelved commercial projects. I think Alpharetta would be a very difference place today if these projects were to have come to fruition.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Bob Strader and his blog. He covered this exact topic a few weeks ago, providing an update on some of these projects. It is a very good read (and an excellent blog as well).

Alpharetta City Center

This has been talked about for a long time. It was to be a vast development that would change downtown Alpharetta in a big way. From the little I knew about this, it sounded like a great idea. In my opinion, Alpharetta’s downtown was never a destination in and of itself (unlike Roswell or Marietta for example). This mixed use development would hopefully change that. But due to evaporating credit markets, this ship hasn’t even left port.

Prospect Park

Also known as the mud pit on Old Milton and GA-400. Unlike other projects, this one actually got off the ground before crashing and burning. The developer went bankrupt not even half way into it. What is left is graded land, some framed out concrete structures with rebar sticking out and an unfinished road.

That unfinished road would be the Westside Parkway extension. What a frustration! It is almost complete from Webb Bridge to Old Milton, but a portion is on this property. This nice little cut through road is delayed indefinitely.

Taubman Mall – McFarland and GA-400

This project still has a heartbeat, barely. This is the promised high-end shopping mall to be build near McFarland and GA-400. The economy has delayed this for years, but plans are still moving forward. It is supposed to rival Phipps Plaza in terms of upscale stores. I’ll believe that when I see it.

Last year Forsyth County approved an overlay district for this mall. Within the last month they made good on their promise to extend Ronald Reagan parkway from McFarland to Union Hill. This will provide access to all the multi-use features of this development. So things continue to move here, albeit at a snails pace.

Get Local

Every Friday, Roots in Alpharetta features an article on food and dining in a series I like to call Foodie Friday.

I’m sure I’ve lost all credibility as a food writer after last week’s article on chain restaurants. So let’s talk about a few delicious local spots. For the most part these joints are NOT hidden gems. It is good to know that even in the midst of a recession, some local restaurants are doing quite well.

BB’s Bagels

Does the “BB” stand for “Bitchin’ Bagels?” If so, I’d agree. These things are large, chewy and delicious. I’ve tried the bagels at every other shop in Alpharetta. Einsteins, Bagel Boys, Brooklyn Bagel Bakery… These guys are not in the same league as BB’s.

BB’s is a cross between a takeout bagel counter and a greasy spoon breakfast diner. Their breakfast items are pretty good with generous portions. The corned beef hash is amazing (take some extra Lipitor beforehand).

They seem to be the most busy on weekend mornings. From what I hear, there is a New York expatriate community that frequents this place on Saturday and Sundays. You’ll hear a lot of “How YOU doin’ ” from people who can say it and keep a straight face. They are also lobbying for an appearance on Diners, Driveins and Dives.  I hope they make it.

Bada Bing Wings

“Let’s go eat at Mr. Alex’s place!” That’s usually what my kids say when they are jonesin’ for chicken and Mac-n-cheese. Alex is the proprietor of this easy-to-overlook wings joint on McGinnis Ferry. If you’ve been in once, you won’t be a stranger. Alex is a super nice fella, a prince of a man.

The theme here is The Sopranos. Almost every inch of wall space is devoted to the TV show. Even the names of menu items are from the show.

This is mainly a takeout wings place. I’m probably one of the only guys who actually eats here. That’s alright by me. On the menu you’ll find wings, some chicken fingers, burgers, etc. The wings are flash baked, which makes them a bit more healthy than fried wings. And I’d stick to what he calls “jumbo wings.” His normal size wings are too tiny for me.

The wings and chicken fingers by themselves don’t stand out much. Where Alex really shines is his sauces and pairings. He makes all his own wing sauce, some of which are very inventive. The signature sauce is the Bada Bing, an Italian style wing sauce paired up with marinara for dipping. Delicious. Other creative touches are things like a fresh pineapple slice to complement a jerk seasoned wing. This sets him apart from every other wing joint in my opinion.

The side items here are to die for. Cajun corn on the cob, potato wedges, garlic bread. They are all terrific. In the winter he offers soups which are pretty good, especially with the garlic bread.

Look out for anything he labels as “homemade”. This is usually a secret code to indicate that the item was made by his wife. The homemade peanut butter pie is out of this world.

Again, most of his business is takeout wings for folks living in the immediate area. But I enjoy eating here several times a month. My kids adore Mr. Alex, so I hope my blog readers will too.

Wildflour

Remember Portabella’s, the old sandwich joint in downtown Alpharetta? After a four year hiatus it has been born again as Wildflour on Windward. They feature the same delicious and inventive sandwiches. My favorite is the pork loin sandwich with potato salad.

Wildflour is only open for lunch and is uber popular right now. Come early or be prepared to wait. Their space is a little tight and can get noisy at times. But otherwise this place is a winner.

This is Where I Want To Be

I realized something after reading my first few blog posts. It is easy to come across in a negative tone about living here. A lot of people curse the burbs. Folks despise the relos, traffic, strip malls, chain restaurants, soccer moms, etc. I don’t want to come across as one of those people. To put it simply… I like it here. Yes, seriously I do.

Alpharetta Chose Me

I don’t like to think of myself as a relo, but I suppose I am. I sorta ended up here by accident. About twelve years ago I was a young bachelor living in the upstate of South Carolina. I enjoyed the pace of life up there and the job I had. But after getting a few years of work experience under my belt, I began to realize something. There were only a handful of companies up there that would hire someone with software experience. If I switched jobs every several years, I would simply run out of places to work before long. So I interviewed with a company in Atlanta, got an offer and moved down here in 1999.

Since then I changed jobs just twice. My work location moved from Norcross to Duluth then finally to Alpharetta. Not wanting a long commute, I moved here. I eventually married my sweetheart from South Carolina, cranked out a few kids, and here I am!

There are a lot of things I love about this area. Here are a few…

Jobs

As I mentioned recently, there are (still) technology jobs here. There are more high-tech jobs on Windward Parkway alone than in all of the upstate of South Carolina. Add to that Johns Creek, Duluth, Norcross and the Perimeter area (all within an easy commute). Even in the recession, this is a great place to be.

Traffic

Yes, this is a positive on my list! Most people around here won’t admit to this, but… you choose where you live and you choose where you work. I choose to have both of these in Alpharetta, and both fairly close to each other. I have a five mile commute; very atypical for an Atlanta commuter. I can come home everyday for lunch but I usually choose to eat out with my family. It is nice, and something I don’t take for granted.

Strip Malls

I love ‘em. Seriously. They have stores, dry cleaners, restaurants, veterinarians, and barber shops to name a few things. I like these things. I like that I have literally one hundred restaurants within range for lunch. I like that there are new Targets and Walmarts nearby. I like having a Home Depot open until 10:00pm. I like Chinese takeout. I dig all of this. You might call it sprawl. That’s fine. I call it stuff I like. I call it a job for someone, a business or entrepreneurial endeavor. Yay capitalism!

Schools

The schools up here rock. I would gladly enroll my children in the worst public school in North Fulton or South Forsyth over the best public school in the city of Atlanta.

Crime

…or lack thereof. Let’s face it, the streets are relatively safe here. Sure, someone is going to occasionally get a purse snatched at the mall. But violent crime is almost nonexistent here.

In my blog I’m going to write about all the craziness and contradiction that exists out here in the affluent burbs. But don’t take this the wrong way. I love this place. I didn’t wake up one day and decide to move here. But now that I’ve been here for ten years, I’m diggin’ it. If you don’t like our pace of life, our standard of living, our “sprawl”, our five bedroom homes and large SUVs, that’s fine. I’m open to all the good-natured ridicule you can throw at me.

How’s the job market?

Remember the heady days of the dotcom boom, when anyone who could spell “JAVA” was getting multiple job offers? Ah that was the life. Today the job market is supposed to be all doom and gloom, right? Maybe not.

I’m not looking for a job right now, thankfully. So I don’t truly know how bad it is out there. But since I’m blogging, I thought I’d do a quick search, just for giggles. I went to the career websites of the biggest employers in Alpharetta. Next I counted how many job listings where posted in Alpharetta. I didn’t look any deeper than that. I know many are in technology but not all. And I have no clue as to if they are actually filling these positions. But here’s what I found…

Alpharetta Jobs January 2010

Company Number of Jobs
McKesson 138
HP 15
ADP 42
LexisNexis (fka Choicepoint) 42
E-Trade 14
Equifax 11
Infor 8
Verizon 5
Radiant 5
AT&T 3
UPS 2
Sun Microsystems 2
IBM 1
Hansgrohe 1
Alltel 0
Total 289

So what to make of this? Maybe health care is where the action is these days! Otherwise I was surprised to see this many openings quite frankly. I did a quick glance on monster.com and didn’t see all of these jobs. If you’re in the market right now, I think you need to be knocking on doors, virtually speaking (or maybe literally).

I may come back to this idea in the months ahead. We’ll have to see if this is an accurate barometer of the job market in Alpharetta.

Diversity in the Burbs?

This post continues a discussion on the Peter Kilborn article on being Rootless in Alpharetta.

Here is a quote from the Kilborn article that jumped out at me:

“The good thing about it is that it is a very comfortable neighborhood to live in. These are very homogeneous types of groups. You play tennis with them, you have them over to dinner. You go to the same parties. But we’re never challenged to learn much about other economic groups. When you talk about tennis, guess what? Everybody you play against looks and acts and generally feels like you. It doesn’t give you much of a perspective. At work, diversity is one of the biggest things we work on.”

That’s Mr. Link speaking about his neighborhood, but it applies to life in Alpharetta in general. Diversity is a big part about life at work, especially if you’re a manager or in HR. Yet here in the burbs, it is practically non-existent. According to stats from the 2000 census quoted by Wikipedia, Alpharetta is 91% white and 5% African American. Forsyth County only has a 0.7% African American population. There are reasons for this difference in Forsyth, something I’ll write about at a later time. But nevertheless, the entire state of Georgia sits at 65% white and 30% African American.

It is pretty easy to verify these statistics by looking around. The congregation I worship with reflects these numbers, as does the pre-school my children attend. Homogeneous is an understatement! We all look alike and think alike. The workplace is a little different, but the vast majority of my fellow cubicle dwellers don’t live here like I do.

What is important to me, as Mr. Link mentions, is that my children grow up with some perspective. I don’t always want them to be surrounded by other white Anglo Saxons like us. I don’t want them to think everyone lives in a five bedroom home, vacations in Colorado and drives German cars.

But at the same time, I don’t think merely looking at white to black ratios is telling the whole story. My block of the neighborhood happens to be very diverse in terms of nationality. On one side of us is a Chinese family. There are Indians on the other side. Across the street is a Dutch family with children in age real close to our own. Catty corner from us is a family from Africa.

The technology jobs available here in the burbs attract a diverse nationality of people. There are small Indian communities all over the northern burbs, especially in Johns Creek. Duluth has a HUGE Korean community, complete with unique restaurants and Korean churches.

The lack of diversity in the burbs will correct itself over time. I’m encouraged to see places like St. James United Methodist Church on Webb Bridge Road. This is a predominantly African American congregation right near the heart of Alpharetta. They have a deep and rich history as a congregation dating back to 1867. They seem to be a vibrant and growing church, and they’ve certainly been around longer than nearly every other church in town (including my own).

So diversity in the burbs is here in some respects, and isn’t in a lot of respects. I think as a parent I’m going to have to be deliberate to expose my children to more. Just an unfortunate trade-off of living here.

Chain Restaurants in Alpharetta

Every Friday, Roots in Alpharetta features an article on food and dining in a series I like to call Foodie Friday.

“Alpharetta only has chain restaurants”

Ever heard this one? I call it a “suburban legend” perpetuated by unknowing city folks who almost never venture OTP. And when they do get out this way, all they know of this area is Northpoint Parkway.

Yes, there are a lot of chain and franchise restaurants out here. Yes, most are wastelands of culinary muck; but not all. Obviously some people like these places because they stay in business.

So let’s run with this myth for a bit and explore the chain and franchise idea in the burbs. If I’m going to generalize then I’m going to break things into groups. There are exceptions to my rules of course, which I’ll note. Yet I think these generalizations are mostly true.

Corporate Owned Chains

These are the big national chains, many of which are publicly traded companies. You’ve got Darden which owns Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Longhorn and a few others. Brinker has Chili’s, Macaroni Grill and Maggiano’s. Rounding out my list is DineEquity which owns Applebees and IHOP. Of these groups, I tend to like the Brinker restaurants the best. I abhor Applebees, IHOP and Olive Garden.

The root problem these guys face, in my opinion, is that the employees just don’t give a crap. It is a transitional job and turnover is high. You’ll get a consistent experience for the most part… consistently mediocre.

Franchise with Large Franchisees

These are the big chains with other big companies owning hundreds of franchised restaurants. Usually this is fast food where one large company will own every store in a vast geographic area. Think McDonalds. And for the most part, I think you get the same experience as the national chains (or perhaps worse).

There are exceptions of course. I really like the Hardee’s location in downtown Alpharetta. They are owned by a large franchisee based in Colorado.

Franchise with Independent Ownership

This is the owner/operator model of a franchise. Chick-Fil-A is the perfect example, where an owner typically has one or a small number of stores. They are very hands-on with day-to-day operations. I believe you should not discount these types of restaurants by lumping them into the above categories. Typically the owner has a large piece of their net worth tied up in the restaurant. At that point, it is like a small family-run restaurant only with the menu dictated by others.

And while we’re on the topic of franchises… There are a lot of restaurants in the burbs that are technically franchises yet have a very thin presence here. The Counter in Roswell and Tacone Flavor Grill on Windward are perfect examples. Both are California-based chains. The nearest other locations are hundreds or thousands of miles away. Might as well be a local joint!

The Local Chain

This seems to be a growing category, especially in the Atlanta area. These are places like our ubiquitous Mexican restaurants. Another example might be Figo Pasta, a chain of casual Italian restaurants with only eight locations (all in metro Atlanta). Or how about Tin Drum with only six Atlanta locations. I’d throw the Raving Brands restaurants (Doc Green’s and formally Shane’s Rib Shack) into this mix as well. I find most of these places boring and predictable. They seem more focused on fast growth and franchisee recruitment than providing a quality and unique experience. And unfortunately trendy outdoor shopping centers like Avenue Forsyth and Atlantic Station seem to be prime locations for this category.

Locally Owned

So right out of the blogging starting gate, I’ve probably lost all credibility as a food writer by talking about chain restaurants. I’m glad to get it out of the way though. Eating at locally owned and operated restaurants is always the way to go. You want to do business with the guy who’s personally invested his heart, time, personal fortune and reputation. He’s got skin in the game, something which the manager of the chain restaurant doesn’t have. If, God forbid, his restaurant fails, the local guy is more than likely broke. The chain restaurant manager just finds another job. In the end, this is what it all boils down to.

Yet if you like a chain restaurant, by all means eat there! But do try to support the local guy. And remember the local guy may be operating a small franchise!

Would it Kill You to Say Thank You?

My momma raised me right. Please and thank you? Of course I say these things. We’re civilized people, right? We appreciate when someone does something for us and we respond the way we were taught as preschoolers. Or do we?

I find that I tend to thank those who work for me. Or perhaps more correctly, I say thank you for service I’m paying for; the waitress or the folks at the dry cleaning place for example. I even go out of my way to thank the cleaning ladies when they are here every other week. Yet here in the burbs, we never seem to thank the people who serve us in a volunteer capacity.

Who am I talking about? The list is long. It is the den mother at scouts, the Sunday School teacher at church, the PTA leaders at school, etc. And as much as it pains me, I’d throw the homeowners association board members into the mix. Yeah, I curse the HOA as much as the next guy, but these folks volunteered for the most thankless job in the burbs. Build up some brownie points and thank those guys. Maybe the pine straw police will overlook your weed-ridden flowerbeds next month!

We tend to take people in these roles for granted. They are always there, always serving us. In many cases we criticize them more than we thank them! If we’re not critical then we’re asking these folks to step up and do more. After all, no one else will! It is this kind of behavior that creates resentment and builds apathy in an organization.

So take a moment and offer up sincere thanks to those who serve you. Be genuine and be deliberate in your thanks. If you can’t do it in writing then go out of your way with a warm and sincere handshake.

Addicted to Intervention

Okay, I’m certainly not the first person to come up with this line. But A&E’s documentary Intervention is a riveting show that I’ve been hooked on for several seasons. Tonight’s episode hits home for those of us living in the affluent burbs.

Imagine the beautiful wife of a doctor. She graduated with honors from UNC Chapel Hill and married young. She lived in a beautiful home in a gated country club. Sound familiar? There are probably a thousand women like this in the northern burbs of Atlanta.

But behind the facade of her gilded country club life, she’s dealing with long held grief. The loss of her father at a young age and a miscarried baby moved her toward alcoholism.

What I find amazing about the stories on this show is how they cut across all parts of Americana. You’ll find toothless rednecks on meth one week, cocaine crackheads in college the next week, inner-city heroin users on skid row, and Oxycontin addicts in the burbs.

Addiction is everywhere, even here in the rich burbs. The show has really opened my eyes to this. Thankfully I’ve never been exposed to this kind of hardcore addiction, and I hope I never have to be.

I’ve noticed a few common themes to this show. The first is the lack of a father. Tonight the addict’s father died unexpectedly during her childhood. Other times the fathers are abusive to their children. In 99% of the episodes I’ve seen there are father issues.

Second, drugs and alcohol make you ugly. I shouldn’t make fun of that, but it is true. The drugs take an unbelievable toll on physical appearance. Just take a look at the folks who are successful in treatment. At the end of the show you’ll find a beautiful person underneath. It is amazing.

The show is heartbreaking. But it also wakes me up as a parent. Addiction is everywhere. Hug your kids. Tell them you love them. Be there as a parent today so you’re not on this show in a few years.

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