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.)
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. 😉