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On the Road: Memphis, Family Matters and Jack Daniels

By George Thomas Published: January 13, 2009

So this is Memphis.  Ummm...OK.  What do I think? Can't say just yet, but things didn't get off to a rip roaring start when getting to the rental car place only to discover that they ummmm...well...didn't have a car for us.  C'est la vie.
It got worse when I received a phone call from my wife telling me that a family member was calling because they needed a quick $800 so their car wouldn't be repo'd.  Yes, that's right.  I'm 600 miles away and I'm dealing with that.
Nevermind that this family member currently owes us $800.  It's less than a month after Christmas, my wife and I were generous in helping other family members who were trying to help themselves get a head and this comes.  Nevermind that this person had recently found the money to join her husband in Florida when she was asked by him not to because they couldn't afford it.
Yes, this is the way one of my family members thinks during a recession. The family member in question is extremely close to me.  The call unnerved me.  Considering I had still had to eat, I figured the best way to calm my nerves was with a double shot of Jack Daniels.  Jack Daniels.  Tennessee.  No problem.  Right?  Wrong.
First of all, dinner was at Carraba's Italian Grill.  No, the irony didn't escape me.  I'm in Memphis, capital of barbecue and I'm eating Italian.  Second of all, we had a wonderful server named Rachel.  We e put in our drink order, our dinner order and boom things are going swimmingly.
You see, growing up in blue collar Northeast Ohio, I learned at a rather young age from my grandfather that shots are taken straight.  No water.  No ice.  No mixer.  And you think that they'd know that in Tennessee the home of good ol' No. 7, right?  Wrong.
The wonderful waitress brings out a rocks glass with this loaded with ice and a light brown mixture.
''What's this," I asked.
''Your drink,'' she replied.
"I asked for a double shot," I said.
"I'm sorry, sir.  I'll check with the bartender," she said.
Moments later she returned - with the same glass, filled with ice and a light brown mixture.
"I watched him pour it,'' she said.  "It is a double."
Something is getting lost in that North-South translation, I figure.
"Ummm...that's not how you do shots," I said.
"Huh?" she said with a puzzled look on her face.
"You do shots with no ice, no mixers and no water," I reply.
"OH!" she said.
Moments later the restaurant manager comes up.  "Is there something wrong, sir?"
"Ummm no, not at all.  The server is great.  It's just the drink is wrong.  I just asked for a double shot of Jack Daniels."
"OK, sir.  We can take care of that," he replied.
Indeed he did.  With his amiable Southern drawal, he brought me a double shot of Old No. 7 - in a snifter - a glass normally reserved for...brandy.
Ummm...I'm still not sure that I am in Tennessee.

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