The Whole Story | Chapter Six

I packed up my car, shipped it to Orlando and flew myself down on a one way ticket not knowing what I was getting myself into. I was excited to get out of town and give myself a complete change of scenery and a snow free winter. I was placed in the bakery kitchens at the Contemporary Resort where I worked on different production teams for the various venues at the hotel. It was exciting and I enjoyed learning about the inner workings of a hotel, what a bonus that it was with Disney! I started making friends who shared many of the same interests as me and was getting acclimated to the area, so when the program was over in April, I decided to stay.

I frantically searched for housing and applied to so many jobs that it became my full-time job. I was hired at Bar Louie in Orlando while I still worked for Disney - I actually stayed on with the mouse for a little while after my program ended. I remembered seeing a Whole Foods Market in the same area as Bar Louie so I applied there too and was hired for a part-time position in the bakery. I found a place to live by Universal Studios, just five minutes from both of my jobs, after staying a few weeks at a friend of a friend’s house. Things were coming together finally, but my schedule was far from ideal. I worked early morning (hello 4:00 AM) at Whole Foods for two days during the week and at Bar Louie in the evenings sometimes until 3:00 in the morning. On the days and nights that overlapped I wouldn’t go to sleep, knowing that I could sleep on my float in the pool the next day. So even though it was crazy, life was pretty good.

I made new friends at both jobs and still hung out with the friends I made while at Disney so I had a lot of things working for me socially which was a nice change compared to where I was a few years ago with my job at Kohl’s where I felt socially stunted. I lived in a one bedroom apartment by myself because after living in the Disney College Program with five other girls I needed a space of my own. And it was nice to have a quiet place to come home to that was all mine after working with the demanding public in a tourism driven town.

I have always been a hard worker, so it was incredibly satisfying for me to be working these jobs. The reasoning behind one of them is the takeaway here for me though. I knew that if I worked a waitressing job I would always have cash and would make good money in a city like Orlando, but I was so relieved to have something to do and people to be with at night and on the weekends. I knew that I would almost certainly not have anything else to do, so why not be working? I also knew I could make some friends at the same time and learn what the residents did for fun and where they hung out.

This strategy worked out and I now appreciate how the Universe led me to both of these experiences. I met some amazing friends at Bar Louie and was able to turn my part-time gig at Whole Foods into a full-time job right around the time that I turned 26 and could no longer stay on my parents’ health insurance plan. I eventually grew tired of Bar Louie and the summer slowdown, so when I was approached by a woman at a big table I was serving one afternoon about applying to a restaurant their company was opening at Universal Studios, NBC Sports Grill, I recognized it as a sign from the Universe that that was my next step.

I was hired to open the restaurant, and what an interesting experience it was. The training was intense, and quite irrelevant actually because once we actually opened, no one knew how to perform the daily functions of the restaurant. I was hoping that it would be better money than my last serving job but it just wasn’t happening and it was so chaotic. Our sections were too small to make decent money and the restaurant was so big that for a part-time job it was entirely too much to take on. I was also working full-time at Whole Foods at this point and being at the restaurant where so much of my time was wasted was so frustrating.

Around this time, a good friend from Bar Louie had a birthday so I reached out to another girl, Kristin, who we were close with who had left the restaurant for new place as well to see when we could get together to celebrate. We caught up with each other at the same time and I told her how awful my new place was while described the exact opposite and told me how amazing hers was. She offered to put in a good word and said the hiring manager wanted to meet me that week.

I went down to Cafe Tu Tu Tango, which was luckily in the same neighborhood, and knew I had stepped into something magical. I had been there before and remembered enjoying the food and the funky vibe. They had the nicest staff, the coolest decor, and interesting food. The managers, Freddy and Hillary, were the friendliest and coolest people, ever. After another meeting with the GM, Troy, I was hired to start the week of Thanksgiving.

I was so excited to already know and love someone who worked there, and to be able to replace a job I dreaded with one that I had heard good things about. I felt like my life in Orlando had taken a new turn and things were starting to feel more settled. I was in a routine and rhythm in my role as cake decorator at Whole Foods and I was actually quite enjoying it. I was fueled by the joy and creativity I felt in one job, and the magic and mystery I felt in the other.

Lauren D'AgostinoComment