Thursday, December 31, 2015

How Mighty Quinn's BBQ Saved My Life - A Year End Story

Do you remember this ambiguous rant from July?:

July 11, 2015

On Thursday morning I made a mistake and was really distraught about it because there are times when I reach a breaking point and this was one of them. Loudly crying in the car and not wanting to go home yet, I didn't know where else to turn so I drove to the one place I thought I could turn - the local Catholic Church. I parked in the parking lot and wept for awhile. I then decided to go to the Rectory because I felt like I really needed to talk to someone. Amidst sobs, I rushed over and rang the doorbell. A woman answered on the intercom and I asked if a priest was in. She asked if I had an appointment, and I said no, unfortunately I don't. She told me to hold on. She then opened the door a few seconds later to my red, tear-stained face and told me that the priest would be with me in a few minutes. She led me into his office and I sat on the couch. She then gave me a box of tissues and offered me a cup of water. A few minutes later the priest walked in, greeted me in a friendly manner, shut the door, sat at his desk, and asked me to proceed. Through tears I then ranted to him about my frustrations of what has been bothering me and he listened attentively. He waited until I looked up at him and paused. He then responded to my situation and gave his opinion, along with his Godly wisdom and advice. God was certainly working through him. This went on for about an hour and I gradually calmed down, although I still didn't feel 100% better about my situation. I thanked him and we parted ways, a smile on my face. I also thanked the woman for her kindness earlier. I then went to pray in the church for a bit. Ideas came to me as I sat there and I decided to be very productive for the rest of the day in regards to what was upsetting me. I was in a better, not greatest, but better mood after talking to the priest and then talking to Jesus.

I decided to share that story because I am so tired of hearing so much negativity about Christians and Catholics. Priests aren't perfect, but they often tend to help me, so good stories about them and the laypeople of the Christian community like this one should be shared more often.

Well, this is actually a prequel to an even bigger story that has taken place ever since.

The huge mistake I made that summer morning was being a few minutes late to a job interview and because of this the store owner didn't want to go through with the interview anymore. I understand and agree with him, but I was so angry with myself, as I stated above, that I really did not know what to do with myself. 

This may not seem like a big deal to have a meltdown over, so let me explain. 

I had been looking for a job for awhile at this point. If you are a millennial out of college, you understand what I mean. I did have my freelance writing, of course, but as a beginner in the field I wasn't making ends meet. The goal in my life at this time was to find a part time job with a consistent check to complement my freelancing and I was having a hard time doing that for two years straight since my college graduation. The less I had a job the more I felt worthless and I was extremely frustrated.

So as you can see, a lot was riding on this job interview that I missed. I thought I really had a chance at this one and I blew it. As I said, I was bawling, verbally screaming at myself, wondering what my life's purpose was. I couldn't take it anymore.

I drove to the rectory and had the chat with the pastor and thereafter went into the church to pray about my job situation. An idea dawned on me to take action and go door to door at various local complexes in Clifton, NJ, the stores with which I was very familiar. 

I truly believe that God had a hand in this.

First I tried the Styertowne Shopping Center for a bit and then my next plan was to visit and apply at stores in The Promenade Shops of Clifton, which is where I hung out a lot with my friends Lauren and Lucero. I parked and stormed the center, going door to door filling out applications and giving my information to people who weren't hiring at the time but I could leave my information with them just in case something opens up. This was a usual response whenever I embarked on a hands on job search like this.

After I exited TGIFriday's where I left my name and number, I decided to go back to the one place I did not go to yet and was debating whether or not I would. I then said to myself, "Let me go check that place out."

This was God pushing me there.

Mighty Quinn's Slow Smoked Barbeque (MQ) is one of the shopping center's newest additions, replacing The Corner Bakery when it opened at this location in March 2014. It is not on the main sidewalk like the rest of the stores. Unlike these stores, MQ's main entrance faces Route 3. There is a side door when you enter from the main area of the complex, but you have to walk a long hallway. I had originally skipped over it because it was hidden and pretty mysterious and I wanted to just continue my door to door plan rapidly. This time, I walked in and strolled through this passageway.

I had never been to this place before, so I was intrigued. I considered it a hidden gem. 

I opened the side door and trailed to the front of the counter and saw a total of 5 or 6 people. Three on the line, one in the back kitchen, and 2 or 3 customers being served cafeteria style barbecue. The meat cutter asked me if she may help me and told me that if I had any questions, to ask her. I thanked her and continued to inspect the scene. One particular item on their trays that got my attention was an orange mushy substance of some kind. "What is that?" I wondered. I would eventually find out that this popular product is called Sweet Potato Casserole, made with sweet potato, maple, cinnamon, and pecans caked on top of it. I've never seen or heard of anything like it before.

I approached the woman on the register, who was not dressed in a MQ uniform like the other two, and asked if they were hiring. She answered affirmatively, and I was pleasantly surprised. She then told the girl next to her to get me an application.

I filled this application out at one of their wooden tables, sitting on a metal chair and taking in the rustic atmosphere. This was another thing that stood out to me. I have never really been to a restaurant like this one with tables and chairs like MQ's.

"I'd like to work here," I fondly thought.

After I was done I brought the paper up to the girl who got it for me and started talking to her about the place. I thought to myself that even if they didn't hire me, I would like to write about it. (Later that day I actually did pitch the idea to an editor, but she rejected the idea because they had covered them already.)

(Added March 24, 2016) I can't believe I forgot to include this detail! That entire day it was rainy, but when I left Mighty Quinn's, the weather had lightened up. I felt like the weather was symbolic of my mood and that the weather changing for the better symbolized my life from that point on changing for the better as well, and that Mighty Quinn's was the reason for it. (End addition.)

The girl I was talking to would go on to become my 20-year-old manager. I had no idea at the time. lol

There are two managers at the place, the girl with whom I was speaking, and another girl. The following day I received a phone call from the other manager, asking me to come in for a job interview because the original girl had put in a good word for me and said that I was nice. So I did, excited to get a call back so quickly.

The place was way busier this day and this interview didn't look too hopeful at first. She told me that they needed people to work on weekends, which is something I currently cannot do for personal reasons. This was a typical roadblock I often came across during the job search process. Normally I would lose out on jobs because of it, so I thought this would be just another one of those scenarios to add to the list. The manager and I parted ways, promising to be in touch if availability changes.

"Good luck with your writing!" she said with a smile as I walked away.

Later on that Saturday night, I received a phone call from the first manager, asking me if I could start training next week.

WHAAAAAT??? I asked her about the weekend thing, and she said that it was okay and that they needed me during the week too. She was willing to form a schedule for me that would work for my needs.

I was...I was HIRED.

Anytime I received phone calls like these from these girls, I started dancing. Dancing in the living room, dancing into my mother's room to tell her the good news, etc.

It was also around this time that I started working for K2 Holdings, the South Mountain Says Magazine, another hiring that I had received like a week or so prior, so therefore I was starting two jobs back to back to complement each other, like my original plan. I rarely received messages of people giving me a chance, so all of this was such a joy to me! 

So then, Monday July 13 was my official first day. I received my duo t-shirts and cap and a nice welcome among my co-workers, but was still intimidated at first. I have been trying to improve myself at the place ever since, working there for five months now, which is the longest I have stayed at a job that is not writing related. This has been my life. This is also the first time I have been able to have consistent money coming in and comfortably buy Christmas gifts.

I always want to prove myself worthy and want to do well by them as they have done by me. My best feat is customer service and cleaning, which they have told me as well. I enjoy making everyone there happy with my work. I love being my cheerful, festive self there and interacting with everyone. They've also told me that they love having me there, which definitely warms my heart. :)

I think they think that I am a riot sometimes. lol

It has been mentioned that we are a family there. I love this so much because I have been feeling this way about the group. I love that I am included in that. I especially felt this way about them at our Christmas party on December 22, my first company Christmas party, which was the first time I actually really hung out with some of them other than socializing with them during clocked in hours. This party is actually one of my favorite memories of being an employee there so far. :)

So why am I telling you this story? I mean, it's just a story about me getting a part time job, right? What's the big deal? Well, different reasons.

1) It proved to me once again that God is always by my side. He was there for me to help me finally interview and meet Teddy Coffey, which was a huge confidence turning point in my writing career, and now He helped me find a job, thus turning on the light for me while I was praying in the Church that morning. Why else would I randomly think to go to these shopping centers in Clifton? I truly believe that. 

2) It made 2015 itself a significant year for me. A year that I finally got consistent writing work with K2 Holdings and other publications and FINALLY found a part time job that is lasting longer than the others have. At this job I am learning so much, from food venue knowledge to working with a huge group of people, which is something I rarely do. At my past jobs I have worked with only a handful of people at small businesses, but usually it is just me and my editor corresponding when it comes to my writing work, so therefore working for a huge corporation and rules regarding that is a whole new experience for me. It also gives me a chance to socialize with peers, which is something I don't really do as much when it comes to just writing and interviewing and corresponding with my editors. I'm making friends there and also making great memories. :)

3) I actually wrote this piece for my co-workers, managers, and the Mighty Quinn's owners if they ever come across it. I just want them to know that even though sometimes I may not be the best or most available worker there, I appreciate everything they have done for me for giving me a chance and having patience with me. I want them to know that even though I make mistakes, I am still trying and I don't want to make things difficult for them. I want to represent Mighty Quinn's the best way I can. Like I said before, I am grateful that they accept me and my personality the way it is. 

They even take an interest in my writing whenever it gets brought up, so I am grateful for that as well. I never told my readers this, but when I was a kid I used to sometimes get made fun of for being a writer. I would share my writing, but the other kids either wouldn't care or would mock me for it. It was as if they felt like writing wasn't something a kid should enjoy doing. I guess this stayed with me all of these years, making me feel funny to admit that I am a writer to people. Since then I have been trying to gain more pride and confidence when it comes to my talent, my thing. To own it. Growing up and making fellow writer friends, especially in college, has helped. Sometimes I doubt myself and my writing, wondering if it is actually for me, but when my co-workers express fascination towards it and ask me questions about it, it somewhat rekindles my own excitement about it a bit. It's actually pretty interesting to me to see others so amazed by what I do when it is so second nature to me. Whenever writers and non-writers show interest in my writing, it makes me less ashamed of it and more apt to talk about it. And of course I do enjoy doing it. I love blogging on here particularly. :)

I am enjoying myself Mighty Quinn's and am thankful for them saving me that day in July when I was hating myself. They have given my life another sense of purpose. The job is actually a nice reprieve from my writing as well, something different to bring out my other positive characteristics. Because of this job I am trying to better myself in all different aspects of my life, not just my working and writing sides, but trying to overcome a lot of my other struggles that I have been dealing with throughout my lifetime (that's another blog post or posts entirely). This has been such a unique experience for me and a significant timeline of my life. And it all took place in 2015, my 25th year of life (also another blog post in the making, I'd say). (Added May 15, 2016.) I'm excited too that I found and got this job on my own. :) (End addition.)

Though I am trying to work through my inner conflicts and build up my self-esteem more, a lot of great things happened in my life this year, Mighty Quinn's being one of them. 

Also, the products are DELICIOUS! I highly recommend. ;)

Happy New Year, everyone! :)

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