Monthly Archives: January 2015

Hanging up the apron…For good…

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Hanging up the apron…For good…

Something pretty momentous happened last week: I worked my last shift ever in a restaurant.

That’s right. After spending almost half of my life in the food service/bartending industry, I decided to hang up the apron forever.

(Don’t mind that the name on my food handler permit is “Stacy McCong.” Or that it expired three months ago. Or the fact that I forgot I had to get my picture taken for my permit and I look like The Queen of the People of Walmart.)

I began my illustrious career at Outback Steakhouse in North Charleston, SC when I was 19 and pregnant with my daughter. I was a hostess to start and became a server after I had her. Let me tell you, southerners had no qualms about rubbing a stranger’s belly. You’d think I was harboring a genie ready to poof out and grant three wishes the way people would go to town on my tummy. And yet this experience didn’t scare me away from working in restaurants.

No, no. Once I started serving I was hooked. I remember the first time I picked up a tip from the table. It felt like Christmas! The ability to go to work each shift and walk away with cash was so very enticing. Plus everyone was fun and work was like a party. Literally. We’d go make our money and then spend half of it on drinks when we got off. (In retrospect I wish I had saved some of those hard earned dollars, but my 38-year-old self is far smarter than the 21-year-old version was.) Even when tips were bad, the good money nights negated those. The serving industry sucks in a lot of people that way.

From that Outback I went to a couple locally owned places in Charleston I can’t even remember the names of. Then I moved to Utah and got on at Outback in Orem. Then:

Thanksgiving Point, Olive Garden (Provo), Olive Garden (Layton), Red Lobster, Roosters, Tepanyaki, Applebee’s, The Summit Lounge, Iggy’s, Copper Club, The Officer’s Club on HAFB and finally Bistro 258.

Whew. That makes me dizzy just thinking about it!

During this time I also ventured into other careers. I got my real estate license for a few years, marketed for a title company for a year, and finally decided to go back to school. I graduated from Weber State University in April 2013, but even during school and after graduation I continued to work in the food and bev industry. It was easy, decent money so why not?

But I have to admit- there came a point where I tired of the way some people treated me like I was “just a server” or a “dumb bartender.” There were days I left work feeling degraded and defeated. Don’t even get me started on stories of the horrible things people have done to me over the years. That’s a whooooooole other blog post. (One time at OG in Provo, a couple wrote in a penny on the credit card slip as my tip because I wouldn’t give them a to go box for the NEVER ENDING PASTA BOWL.)

Not an inaccurate depiction of many customer interactions servers deal with on a daily.

Not an inaccurate depiction of many customer interactions servers deal with on a daily.

I could not wait to graduate because I was so sure I would be done with all that nonsense once and for all. But I had a baby and a special needs kiddo at home, so working part-time making an average of $20-30/hour just made sense, so that’s what I did.

And to be honest, I really enjoyed the gig at Bistro 258. A small, intimate restaurant with great food, cool co-workers, nice owners. But I decided this is my year to become who and what I’m supposed to be. I’m focusing all my efforts on being a great mortgage loan officer, an awesome mom, a great wife, and the fittest version of myself. Because I’m almost 38, and 38 is great.

So, so long Stacy McCong. It’s been a good run, but the days of slip resistant (read: hideously ugly and ridiculously overpriced) shoes are behind me. No more aprons overflowing with straws, pens and wine keys. Well, maybe I’ll still have wine keys lying around. No more deposits to the bank of wads of cash that raise the judgmental eyebrows of the tellers. This mama has served her last linguine, poured her last pilsner, brought her last bread basket.

But if you need a home loan in Utah, then I’m happy to be of service. šŸ˜‰

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From Silent to Sir Talks-a-Lot

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From Silent to Sir Talks-a-Lot

My two and a half year old, Eli, is in the super cute phase of sentence building and thought sharing. I told my husband the other day I wish I could freeze this time, when his voice is so sweet and his face so innocent. Even his bossy demands amuse me, with his stern little toddler mean face expressions and his grumpy arm-folding across his chest. I was trying to recall memories of Haiden when he was this age, and felt guilty that I couldn’t remember what his voice sounded like. But that’s because when he was this age, he didn’t haveĀ a voice. Crazy to think that my chatter box, my kid who talks nonstop, who uses a vocabulary far above what kids his age should be using, was once non-verbal.

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Little Eli guy

I didn’t realize at the time that Haiden was different. I knew that he had a language delay, but at two years old it wasn’t cause for alarm. When he was three and he still wasn’t able to communicate in full sentences, I knew we had to do something. We enrolled him in a special needs pre-school where he received his first IEP (Individualized Education Plan). His diagnosis at that time was Developmental Delay. Over the course of two years there, he made great improvements in language skills, but still struggled a lot with social, cognitive and behavioral issues.

The first time he was able to answer a question in a full sentence will forever be with me. He was about four at the time. We were driving home and I looked back at him in the rear view mirror and tiredly asked, “What would you like for dinner?” To my surprise he answered: “Chicken nuggets, french fries, Sprite.” (This was a foreshadow for what has become his all-time favorite meal, much to my chagrin.) I was so overjoyed. I choked back the lump in my throat as my eyes filled with tears and I took him straight to Mickey Ds.

The next phase he went through was called Echolalia. Ā Basically he was a skipping record, saying the same word or phrase over and over and over and over. So you can imagine how much fun that was. He also adopted a variety of odd (but characteristic of autism) movements: rocking back and forth, flapping his hand, a lethargic gait when he walked. Little idiosyncrasies that would come and go, get better, get worse. Ā There was nothing I could do about it. They were waves that I just had to ride out every time they swelled and rolled through our lives.

Haiden, three years old

Haiden, three years old

When he was four he started at a new daycare. He never wanted to play with the other kids. I would often pick him up while they were outside on the playground. He was always off by himself, Mayor of HaidenLaLaVille. Other kids would point and whisper. Once a kid asked me, “Are you his mom?”

“Yes,” I replied.

“He’s weird.”

My heart broke when I realized that other kids were starting to notice that there was something off about him. And I couldn’t fault a kid for being brutally honest. My consolation at that time was that Haiden didn’t notice- HE didn’t realize he was different and he certainly didn’t know others thought he was. He had no concept of taking another’s perspective. I was glad that he wore this protective cloak of oblivion and that he didn’t hurt over it the way I did.

Now, at nine years old, I think he realizes a little more that he isn’t quite like his fellow classmates. But I don’t think he cares. I love that he doesn’t try to act a certain way to get people to like him. He’s just very authentically Haiden, and if you don’t like him he just doesn’t give a shit! He has a group of good friends who have known him since kindergarten and they all get along great. As long as anyone wants to listen to him chat non-stop about his most recent obsession (last year it was Legos. Now it’s Minecraft) then he’s just happy as can be.

And I couldn’t be happier for him.

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