gratitude

The Cookie Man

This is about attitude…and gratitude.

First, attitude:

“Most of it’s attitude, you think old, you dress old, you’ll look old, you’ll act old.”
The Cookie Man, Pat Augustine.

My thoughts exactly. The back of a well worn shirt of mine:

Bike now IMG_9454.jpg

But what’s with this “cookie man”? What’s with these “cookie givers”?

That’s about gratitude:

Cheryl, my sweetheart, makes a box of brownies for me to take to the Honda repair shop (ASAT Honda, Lindenhurst, NY :http://www.asat631.com) every time I go there. It’s an excellent Honda-only repair shop. Professional, honest service, every time. The Honda crew tells me there is one other lady who also brings brownies for them. But the world needs more givers of baked goods.

Now, the cookie man was to have his cancerous bladder removed back in 2001. Serious stuff on the face of it yes, but the place and and date was Manhattan, Sept 12, 2001. Yes the day after 9/11. I chatted with the cookie man recently in the waiting room of an audiologist in Melville, NY.

A word about the Doctor of Audiology, Dr. Lori Trentacosta:

I had taken my brother, Rod, from his assisted living residence to Dr. Trantacosta for a new hearing aid adjustment a few weeks prior.  But it developed that there was a problem with the aid and a replacement had to be re-ordered from the manufacturer.

rod-and-lee-close-8x10-240img_6715.jpg

My brother, Rod (he ain’t heavy…) left, and me, 2014

Dr. Trentacosta was so sorry that we had to come back that she said to my brother, “If your brother can’t pick you up for the new appointment, let me know, I’ll get you here even if my husband has to pick you up.” Wow. When was the last time you heard an MD say that, huh? How ’bout approximately…never?

But I was able to transport my bro on the new appointment date. So there we sat waiting to be called in when in through the door walks the cookie man carrying to the reception desk a full platter of, yes, cookies.

All the staff behind the glass enclosure were obviously glad to see Pat Augustine, of cookie fame. There were smiles and laughter all around. As I said…he brought cookies.

I had the good fortune to have him sit near me while he too waited to be seen. So I asked, of course, about his fine oven offerings.

He said he loves to bake cookies and was eager to tell me how it all started.

He went to Sloan Kettering on 9/12, 2001. Despite the attack on the WTC the day before, Sloan Kettering in their keep-calm-and-carry-on mode, kept all their scheduled operations…on schedule.

So he rode into the city on the LIRR with his two daughters and his then wife. Besides the train crew only he and his family were aboard. They were met at Penn Station by police and military who asked “What are you doing here?” They explained the operation scheduled and were allowed to proceed. No cabs were available though, so they had to walk.

Pat got a brand new bladder. But serious complications ensued and he dropped from 170 lbs to 130 lbs. Not long after he began going to Sloan Kettering in Commack NY.

The staff was wonderful and he wanted to do something for them, so he started bring in fruit trays, (they were all vegans). Hmm. is there a message in that?

When the treatments were over and he fully recovered he wanted to do something more so, he said, “I started baking cookies: Chocolate chip, oatmeal, oatmeal raisin, peanut butter.”

He started with just a few dozen, to accommodate the relatively small staff in the new Commack site. But over the years both the building and staff grew, (to a staff of 125 now). And so did his cookie dozens grow proportionately.

He bakes 50 dozen now, that’s no typo, he bakes fifty dozen. And he does it once a month.

I thought he may have a baker in the family that does the work for him but no, he bakes them in his home kitchen oven. Nine minutes in the oven, place over there for cooling, next batch in and so on and so on.. He says it takes him 4 1/2 hours from start to clean up.

Pat carries the cookies to his destination in his car on cookie sheets, turning the heat up so the car is about 80°. He likes to keep them warm. He also likes to get there before lunch when he knows they will have the greatest impact.

When he gets to Sloan Kettering and steps between the outer and inner doors there is an air intake in that ante lobby and the cookie aroma, Pat says, “ immediately goes throughout the whole building. Doctors and nurses come out of the woodwork.”

Sloan Kett 2017-06-20 at 2.09.20 PM.jpg

Lobby entrance of Sloan Kettering, Commack. Photo from their site

They do often anticipate his arrival because his current wife works there and she sometimes tips off the staff…“The cookie man is coming today.”

Pat distributes warm cookies amongst staff and patients and the staff allow him to chat with chemo patients. Regarding these chats Pat said, “If you’ve had cancer it’s a different relationship than if you hadn’t. My wife can’t get the sense of having cancer because she never had it.”

When asked if he’s retired now Pat said, “I don’t know what that means. I tried to be retired.” Pat’s 83 but looks more like 65-70. He said. “Most of it’s attitude, you think old, you dress old, you’ll look old, you’ll act old.”

Pat Augustine has a a long resume of significant contributions in service to us in the form of conservation.

For fifteen years he represented the governor’s office at the Atlantic States Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) as its commissioner, appointed from 2001 to 2015. He’s had the longest service as commissioner in that office, covering four governors.

The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council’s web info say of Pat:

Over the past 16 years, he served four consecutive governors to represent New York’s fishing constituents on the commission. Over that time, he actively participated on 15 of the commission’s 17 species management boards, and provided leadership as chair on six of those boards. as well as Exec Director of NY Sportsfishing Federation.

Pat declined my suggestion of a photo of him in the waiting room but I did find one on the web:

Pat Augustine .jpg

From the Finger Lakes Times, 2015

I was given much detail from Pat about the ASMFC office’s work from overfishing by commercial and recreational fishermen to survey boats that work to assess the status of various fish species. Pat was on the Mid Atlantic Council for nine years. He’s now on the National Marine Fishing Service Council.

The Service has vessels with sonar that can actually identify fish and estimate their stock. Pat works to put their information into practice to preserve fish species. He told me way more than my tiny mind could handle about the specifics of safeguarding fish stocks. Pat’s been taking writing classes too and intends to write his autobiography, so stay tuned.

Pat evinced the verve of an enthusiastic intern rather than a much-seasoned veteran of fish conservation. I asked him why he does all this cookie giving. His answer was succinct, “I call it giving back.”

Some of us might recognize that good feeling of “giving back,” after a very successful and rewarding career. Others might not have such a glowing resume but get personal joy from the feeling of just doing good things for people. And that, just might bring out more good in people…who in turn might pass it on. So, many of us give “cookies” of our own kind in…our own ways.

As for Dr. Lori Trentacosta: When we went in to see her she worked with my bother very patiently and effectively. She knew the product well and expressed how best to get the most out of it. There was no rush to move him on and out. We left the office well satisfied with Dr. Trentacosta…and her staff. See Island Better Hearing:https://www.islandbetterhearing.com

Lori 2017-06-20 at 2.18.59 PM copy.jpg

Dr. Lori Trentacosta Photo from Island Better Hearing site

No wonder Pat Augustine, the cookie man, presented the doctor and her staff with his platter of aromatic gratitude.

Pat’s spirit was appreciated inside Dr. Trentacosta’s office just as in the Sloan Kettering building. He’s known in both places now as…the cookie man.

I can’t compete with the cookie man when I want to show appreciation for fine service. But I guess my mentions and links on this blog post make me too a sort of …”cookie man”.

Be well,
Leebythesea

See also my sister site: https://wherethesundontshine.net

 

 

 

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