Doc Stevens on Bosses, Teamwork and Good Luck.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011 5:25 PM Posted by Tondeleo Lee Thomas

Tondeleo: I was going through some of my recordings of talks with Doc and ran across this short little story. It typifies Doc's sense of humor and initial aggressive attitude, which mellows if you don't overreact immediately.

A lot of what Doc says is purely for effect, or because he likes to hear it said, and nobody else is saying it. Here’s an example is:

Doc: "So the boss man is tryin' to get me an' the other boys what worked there to come in on Saturdays and Sundays cause he cain't figure out how to make enough money Monday through Friday.

And that's with him already over charging the customers, and payin' us as little as he can get by with, and even then not payin' us our full paychecks every week. And that was only payin’ us minimum wage. You can’t live on minimum wage even if you got maximum hours. When they keep you broke, Tondy, they got you over a barrel.

So he says to us on Friday afternoon, as we was pickin' up our pay, "Hey, y'all's comin' in to work tomorrow and Sunday. Everybody is. Be here at 8 o’clock."

The other guys just moaned under their breath, but I weren't comin' in. I had a lady's car to fix on Saturday, and needed to go to the laundromat on Saturday nite. Sunday morning I was helpin' my buddy pack his things up, over to the trailer park so he could move, Sunday afternoon, I was invited to a Gospel concert and picnic with free food. I like Gospel music, and I like free food. Them church women can COOK! ANd they usually give out doggie bags full of leftovers, what become my lunch the next week. I ain't had no time to come in on Saturday or Sunday, Tondy.

So I said to the Boss Man: "I ain't comin' in. I ain't got time to work here for you seven days a week."

Suddenly I heard myself sayin' "Well, in the word 'time' there's a I and a ME, so I guess I am gonna have to quit to go work for ME..."

Boss Man points to a poster on his office wall. One of them ones with a picture of a eagle on a mountain and then at the bottom has a fancy sayin'. He had a lot of them posters what is made so bosses can take a vantage of they's workers.

He says, "Look at that, Doc. It says, 'There is no "I" in team.' What do you think of that? It isn't about YOU it is about US. We're a team and there is no I in team. You HAVE to make time to come in and work with the team.”

Suddenly I heard myself sayin' "MAKE time? Make time? Well, in the word 'time' there's a I and a ME, so I guess I am gonna have to quit to go work for ME, if you start this workin' all the TIME stuff."

An' you know what? He let us all not HAVE to work on Saturday an' Sunday, if we already had plans. An' he asked us not to plan much for the next two weekends. We could handle that, since he was givin’ us notice.

But sometimes bosses know what they’re gonna do and they like to show their power by not letting the workers know til the last minute.  He were a pretty good ol' boy after all, if you pushed him. No doubt. But you had to push him. A lot of bossmen are like that.

An’ I admit, I WERE kinda scared for a minute he was gonna fire me for sayin' that!

When I heard that come out of my mouth, I was scared, cause after the work on that lady’s car, I didn’t have no other work at the garage at the moment. I didn’t have no gigs to play, it was too cold and rainy to go to DC and sit out on the sidewalk and play… and the rent was due the next week. The landlord likes it when I work!

But somebody needed to say it and I guess it fell to me. That happens a lot. There’s something what needs to be said, and nobody’ll say it, and then I hear it come outta my mouth.

Cooking the Best, Most Tender Steaks EVER! In a Beer Cooler!

Saturday, November 19, 2011 10:28 PM Posted by Tondeleo Lee Thomas

Tondeleo: One Saturday in September after playing at a small festivalBlues Festival 1 in Virginia, Doc and Marilyn and the band invited about fifty or so friends over for deer steaks and corn on the cob and baked potatoes and whatever else people could bring. None of them had eaten all day, other than a couple of hot dogs at the festival, so they were starved.

Doc, Thurman, Welch and Big Dave had the grills going and were handing out one deer steak after another. I couldn’t imagine how they were cooking them so quickly. Then, when I actually got to eat one, I was stupefied! 

It was the most tender, buttery steak I have ever eaten. And that says a lot because I eat in a lot of fine restaurants and attend some very classy events.

They served food for more than fifty people in a matter of less than a half hour. It was catered as efficiently as any event I have ever been to.

There were beer coolers all around the grills. That’s where the meat was kept prior to being thrown on the grill. But the corn on the cob and baked potatoes were just pulled out of the coolers and put on the polystyrene plates. And, they were excellent. So, I had to ask Doc what their secret was. This food was ALL excellent!

Doc: Ain’t no secret to it, Tondy. It’s just “cooler cookin’.”

Tondy: Cooler cooking? How does that work? I have never heard of it!

Doc: Well, everybody down here knows about it. Ain’t nothing to it.

Here’s how it works. You take your steaks and rub your seasoning on ‘em. We use mostly black pepper, woostershear sauce, and maybe some salt. Not much. Then we put each one in a ziploc sandwich bag.

After that we toss ‘em in a beer cooler with water that’s about 150 degrees and let them sit in there for an hour or so. We put these in a couple hours ago, while we were getting the grills goin’. That hot water cooks the food, makin’ deersteaksit as hot as the water is.

After about an hour, you take the steaks out of the bag and pat ‘em dry and throw them on the grill for about a half minute on each side, so they get seared. Just till they got the marks from the grill on ‘em. Only takes 30 seconds or so. That’s how we served all those people so quick.

Done the same thing with the corn on the cob, except you don’t need no bags with that and it only takes about 15 minutes. Pour hot water about 150 degrees in the cooler and then put the corn on the cob in. It’s done in 15 minutes.

Same way with the potatoes, too. But I leave ‘em in for more than an hour. Maybe two. I dunno. Then we set ‘em on the edge of the grill to get a little smoke flavor to ‘em.

We done it with the beans too. We put the beans in bags and then in a beer cooler with hot water. Just dish ‘em up right outta the bag. But we DO add a couple of cans of coke, chopped onions and some relish to ‘em for flavor.

Plus you ain’t need to have no ‘lectric cords all over the place. We heat the water either on the stove or over a fire, cause all it’s gotta be is about 150 degrees – not boilin’ so it’s easy. Sometimes we use a immersion heater for it.

Aint nothing to feedin’ 50 or a hundred people, Tondy. Just get the food, some zip lock bags and some coolers. And hot water and a grill. And plates and plastic spoons and forks. And something to drink.

We do the same thing at Christmas and all the holidays when you got kinfolk and friends comin’ over. DO the same things for weddin’s and family reunions. It’s the only way poor people can feed a whole lot of folks at once. I bet y’all aint do that over to England!

Tondeleo: I admitted that we don’t. Or that at least I had never heard of doing that. And, I must confess that is the easiest and simplest way  I have EVER heard for feeding large groups of people. And all of it was delicious. My steak was about an inch thick, and rare from one edge to the other – with just a bit of smoke taste. It was absolutely brilliant. I can’t wait to try this when I get back to England!

Doc Gets A Social Conscience (well, for him, anyway) AND sends an email!

Thursday, November 17, 2011 9:32 AM Posted by Tondeleo Lee Thomas

Most of the time, it seems like Doc and his friends are too busy trying to survive to take much interest in the broader world around them. This trip had surprises for me in that I found evidence of him and some of his friends taking notice of the world beyond their friends, jobs, music and families.

Doc found an old Washington Post magazine at the Bryans Road library. Columnist Gene Weingarten wrote an article about not being Doc Stevens 02able to find jeans in his size, which just happens to be the exact size that Doc wears and can't find.

Apparently the clothing companies have found it easier to make fewer sizes of inseams. Doc wears a 31. He says 30’s are too short and 32’are too long. Sometimes he wears the 30’s lower non his hips to make them look right. But he doesn’t like the way they feel.

Marilyn had read the article to Doc and then he stumbled through it, and was moved to send an "e-letter" to Mr. Weingarten to help him out. Marilyn bcc'd it to me. Here it is, so you can sense the vast social consciousness that is developing in Doc.

Dear Mr Gene.

We was at the liberry over to Bryans Road and my neice Marilyn read to me your article about blue jeans not fitting good anymore. You are right. I am like you, but am a bit bigger at 200 pounds. I wear 34X31 jeans too. So we are maybe put together a bit different but the same size waste and legs. The same part of me and you is 34X31 and they do not make them any more. I play music , blues and country blues at festivles and fairs and BBQs and I travel all over the place doing it and one thing I can tell you is this.

If you find 34X31s you are not finding them brand new. You are finding them used and I don't go for some of those used jeans if you know what I mean, by the time some folks is done with them.   

In August I was coming back home from playing in SC and I stopped in NC at JRs big outlet there on 95 where they sell a lot of evrey thing except 34x31 which they did not have but they had like what you said, 30s and 32s which is either high waters or sissy looking.

I had almost lost haert but Marilyn took me over to that other store which sold carhartt ones. They is labled the same way without 31s but they is cut long so the 30s is really a 31 and fit good. I bought some at that outlet there and when we got back here to Nanjemoy I carried Marilyn up to the library in Bryans Road and she bought me 4 more prs of them on that ebay on the interweb. They was used but in good shape like just broke in good but not dirty or staned up.

Now I have 5 prs of jeans that fit good and they are just regular jeans color, blue. I wear crapenters jeans with loops and the extra pockets I need. They could be what you are looking for since Levis don't care about the little man any more unless he is way too little. Carhartt is the ones for men like you and me.  Your friend  Doc Stevens

I never thought I would live to see Doc so moved as to contact a perfect stranger try to help. Maybe he is finally getting a world view that is bigger than panelbeating and playing guitar and eating BBQ. But I doubt it.

- Tondeleo

Catching up: Doc Stevens on Socialism, the Economy and War

Wednesday, November 16, 2011 2:15 PM Posted by Tondeleo Lee Thomas

Tondeleo: I apologise for the long lapse in posting. Due to the poor economy my travels have been limited. I finally made it back to the US to complete some assignments and I was able to spend some pleasant time off with Doc and Marilyn and some of their friends.

I made several hours of recordings and took reams of notes so I should be able to post regularly again. Also, I was given several vids of Doc and Marilyn and their friends playing music, so I should be able to post them on YouTube soon.

One thing that I’ve noticed is the very clear disappointment that Americans seem to have with their government and the economy. I had thought it was primarily a European phenomenon, but it is widespread in America as well.

A lot of Americans blame President Obama for it and also their Congress. From what I can read, all this didn’t begin with President Obama. A lot of what they are angry about was initiated under President Bush, and President Clinton before him.

I asked Doc why he and his friends feel that socialism (they call it “communism,” by the way) is getting the upper hand.

His answer was actually well thought out and surprised me. Here it is:

Doc: Well, Tondy, I know everybody wants to be happy and the government is s’posed to make sure everyone has the chance to be happy. We learnt that in school.

But not everybody is gonna be happy. For me, I want to work and make a few dollars. I want to play music and be left alone by the government. I just want to live my life.

Other folks don’t wanna work and want the government to take care of ‘em an’ pay all their bills. Well, I ain’t wantin that. And the government don’t really have any money, ‘cept what they take from the people, which is by taxes. So really it aint the government what is payin’ those peoples’ bills, it is me an the other folk what is workin’ that is payin’ for all that.

Tondeleo: I can see where that is a problem for you: You and your friends don’t seem to make very much money in the first place…

Doc: You’re right, Tondy, an’ it’s not only the people what’s on unemployment what we gotta help support but we got wars goin’ on what is also bein’ paid for by the common man. I heard that a bomb costs about 3 million dollars. I ain’t ever gonna see that much money in my life. An’ we are payin the salary of every soldier, every general, every contractor…

An’ we are payin’ for all the ships and jet planes an’ tanksBodyshop2 an’ all the fuel what they use! Now how we gonna do that? That’s somethin’ I’m mad about. There ain’t enough people workin to pay for all the wars and bombs and soldiers and their families. No wonder we’re outta money. I caint even pay for the fuel in my panel truck!

It ain’t the immigrants what’s makin America broke, it’s the wars, if you ask me.  

Tondeleo: Well, that isn’t marxism, or socialism, or communism. That’s just part of living in a country with a huge military.

Doc: I don’t know about all those “isms.” An’ I gotta admit, we was trained from when we was kids to share with other kids. We had to share our clothes, our toys an’ all that.

But I learnt that some kids ain’t got no toys cause they broke their toys all up an’ now they want to take my toys so they can break them all up, too. And then they gonna holler for more toys to break. Well, they ain’t getting’ mine.

I gotta few nice guitars what I either made or bought cheap, an’ I ain’t givin’ ‘em to someone what broke his or tore it up. I would more likely give it to someone what took care of his own stuff.

In fact I done that a few times – give away guitars – to people what knew how to take care of ‘em but ain’t had one ‘cause maybe he just got outta jail or somethin; an’ he needed somethin’ to help him get started. But that’s it.

I’ll help ‘em get started but then it’s up to them. I found out this. When my stomach gets close enough to my spine, I’ll find a way to make some money so I can eat. That’s all I got to say about that.