Kelli Cook and Ken have known each other for a number of years through community volunteering. Ironically, Kelli worked as a bookkeeper for a friend of Ken’s that shared an office in the Schaefer building.
We lured Kelli to a third-floor phone room to explain that we like to introduce our new hires with a casual interview and initiation rituals. We quickly divulged that there would be no rituals.
Though nervous, Morgan got her to share some stories, family traditions and connections to our off-beat office, read here:
So, Kelli, we’ve already gotten to know you, have shared lunch and countless stories with you. Tell the world a little about yourself:
I am a great mom, I am a people-pleaser and I am going to Heaven when I die.
I have one son and two daughters, 3 kids: Robbie, Riley and Remi. Remi is a sophomore at Texas A&M. Riley just graduated from Texas A&M and she’s teaching. Robbie is 26, newly married and lives in DC. My daughters are inseparable. Well, they’re obviously separated now, but they’re really close.
How did you hear about Schaefer?
I read a magazine article about the building, I showed it to Scott and said, “This is the kind of place I want to work.” He said well go get yourself a job there. I remember thinking I’m just a bookkeeper, what am I going to do at an Advertising Agency? Fast forward a couple of years, I met Ken at Paschal High School. We became friends through volunteering for the school’s booster club. I remember telling him that I loved his building, and I saw the article. An opportunity for a position independent of Schaefer opened and when I showed up for an interview it was in the Schaefer building. It was so ironic and so bizarre. It’s a God thing that it all came together just like that.
I’m curious about this one, what is your biggest fear?
I have two fears: half bridges and birds. Half bridges are bridges that go nowhere or they’re under construction. I have a terrible fear that I’m going to take the wrong exit and accidentally take a bridge that leads to nowhere. Also, drawbridges, I have a fear that it’s going to open and I’d go crashing down. I guess, I fear any bridge that can move or that is not finished. I think they’re the only thing that has actually given me a panic attack.
My fear of birds developed from the movie, Birds. When I was in sixth grade, my babysitter was watching it so my little sister and I snuck out of our room to watch the movie with her. We got scared and she realized we were there, but she didn’t want to stop watching it so she let us watch it with her. In the movie, the birds attack the people on the island and peck their eyes out. Still to this day, I can’t watch it and am terrified of birds.
A little bird also told me you have a problem with beets? These are all B’s, what’s up with that?
I just hate beets. They’re gross, especially the canned ones. It’s become a family joke, because I’ve always hated them. Beets really became popular in the past few years, and every restaurant added a beet salad to their menu. One of the first times my son brought home Lauren, his then girlfriend–now wife, I got on a sarcastic rampage about beets. I started joking that I was getting the beet salad, and my girls were playing around with it saying, “You do that mom.” We were going on and on with it and Lauren was oblivious to the fact that we’re making fun of the beet salad. When the waiter came, Lauren ordered the beet salad. I thought she was being funny and playing along with the joke. I said, “Come on Lauren, seriously what do you want?” She still said, “The beet salad.” I said, “Wait you eat beets?” Then she got embarrassed, and said she didn’t want to order it anymore. I said, “I’m just kidding!!” It became a big, family joke.
My family has a tradition, where every year we give each other Christmas ornaments that reflect something in our lives. That was Lauren’s first year to get an ornament for our tree, and she got a can of beets.
That’s a fun tradition! What’s your favorite ornament that you were given and one you gave?
Well, right now, my favorite would be the bride and groom that I got from Robbie and Lauren. My favorite one that I’ve given is when Remi wrapped all of my Christmas presents for me one year, and her ornament was a roll of tape that I tied a ribbon around.
That’s hilarious, how big is this tree of ornaments?
It’s really big, about 9-feet and it’s covered with ornaments. I still haven’t decided when I’m going to let the kids have their ornaments. I have ornaments that are back from forever ago. I have a little felt doll that’s me in my royal guard uniform from when I was on the drill team in high school. There’s an empty coke bottle, because I was a Coke fanatic for a long time. Remi got an ornament last year, because she made a “C” and it’s the first “C” she’s ever made in her life. She was so sad. We found a report card and on the back we wrote, “C’s get degrees.”It’s a very cool and very fun tradition. Every year, when we decorate, we remember the stories behind them.
So, in the Cook household is everything all ornaments and butterflies? Got any horror stories?
Robbie was two years old, we’re at a friend’s house having dinner. It was a really elegant dinner, while the two, two-year olds were playing. Robbie was getting cranky, so Scott picked him up and felt his head. Scott goes, “Oh my gosh, Kelli, he’s on fire, he’s burning up!” As we were leaving and telling them goodbye, Robbie threw up down my back. It went down my shirt, I puked on the woman in front of me and all over her rug. It’s without a doubt, the most embarrassing moment of my life. We had to pay to get their rug cleaned. It was awful, but still a good story.
When did you change your opinion of the Schaeferites from, “those people are nuts” to, “I’d like to work with those monkeys?”
I never thought y’all were nuts. I thought y’all were fun. I can’t remember how many times I came out and told y’all, “Y’all know this isn’t a real job, right?” Y’all have too much fun! I hated sitting on the other side of that glass window because I felt separated from y’all. I think it’s really cool the way it all happened, because, who would’ve thought I would have joined the Schaefer team?
What do you think your favorite prank phone answer will be? i.e. “Buddy the Elf, what’s your favorite color?” Or “City Morgue…?”
This is hard. What would I say? I’m not a funny, fast thinker. My dad would always try to answer the phone in a funny, weird accent but he never could. I can’t do any accents; my kids are pretty good with it. Every time I try to do one, my kids just laugh at me. I could do a southern drawl, but that’s about it. I would probably say something silly like, “Kelli’s bar and grill, what can I serve ya?!”