Here we are, it’s the end of the semester and the beginning of Wesleying’s MOCON RETROSPECTIVE!! Everybody say “YEAH” then wave your arms in the air like you just don’t care!!
I’ve been chatting it up with friends, reading your comments on the original post, and the stuff people sent in to us and it’s been a good time. Everybody has a story, even those in the senior class, which only got the legendary MoCon experience for one year. The good and the very bad (I’ll get to this in the next post on Food) were all part of MoCon’s irreplaceable charm. For those of you who never partook in the fine dining experience that was MoCon, I’ll do my best to recreate some of the atmosphere while you read. You should read these posts with lots of friends, some strangers, and one or two dining workers yelling in the background. Put some spices on the stove and let the aroma infuse your breaths with excitement and some apprehension. Find yourself a room that is mostly windows and watch the sun set behind the trees in a totally unromantic way. Pick up a cup and prepare to drop it if you don’t like what I write. And clear some space on your desk for a drumroll.
For those of us who were there for MoCon’s glory, even if at the tail-end of it, I hope you’re already taking your first steps down memory lane. Writing this is even giving me fuzzy feelings and I’m not even high.
Lay back, light up, and let nostalgia do its thing.
This post is all about the people of MoCon- that is, the workers and the students. I don’t know if everybody was just more interesting way back in 2006-2007 or if the unflying saucer brought out some of the quirks we try to suppress nowadays. You know, a huge part of that must have been the fact that a few hundred people could share that space at any one time. The hippies, the jocks, the hipsters (I’m not sure that they existed in their current form just yet), the artists, the assholes, the nerds, the activists, and every other sub-grouping of the campus population did their thing inside MoCon. Sometimes we rolled our eyes and sometimes we applauded their antics or their fashions, but the spirit was always the same. The freshman class (along with some sophomores) was united, not in ideology or politics or style, but simply physically. We were like a huge dysfunctional family where it’s kind of okay not to talk to most of your relatives but you just take comfort in knowing they’re there. It’s kind of nice to be around all of your peers during the day when they’re sober (err..mostly). I miss that.
Let’s not forget that a very special part of dining at MoCon was interacting with the dining staff. They didn’t just serve us, sometimes they served us (as in, you got served). We knew them by name and they knew us. Some of them even had fanclubs on facebook (populated mostly by recent graduates). Sometimes the relationships between staff and students weren’t as positive. You can read a wespeak here that details one student’s interactions with every member of the dining staff. In a style similar to that kid’s I’m going to take you through MoCon starting with the cardswipe and finishing at the specials table.
I knew that as I waited in line and slowly made my way down the staircase that I would be greeted warmly at the bottom by the cardswiper. I can remember two cardswipers in particular, but there may have been others.
The dude with the neck brace
He was a kind of short, kind of charming Latino guy. But what I really remember about him was the neck brace. One day he suddenly showed up with it on, and I remember thinking to myself that he didn’t really look hurt. It was a pretty flimsy-looking neck brace and I think I remember him taking it off sometimes, maybe so his neck could get some air. I kinda always imagined in my head that he was committing some type of insurance fraud and that he wore it just to collect money from some minor accident. He was a nice guy though, so I doubt this was actually the case. Well, he was nice to me anyway. I’ve heard that he wasn’t quite as friendly to guys as he was to the ladies. A male friend of mine remembers him as a scowling vampire on Halloween. I think maybe he was just incredibly prescient about the scowling vampire fetish that is so popular today.
I think almost everybody who met her fell in love with her! I’m not even sure how I knew we were supposed to call her Grandma, but we all did. Her actual name is Laverne Pharham, according to this Argus article, but she will forever be Grandma MoCon to me and everyone else who had their card swiped by her. The wonderful thing about having my card swiped by Grandma was that she always asked how I was doing or how my day was. And she called me “Baby!” She made me feel like the lead girl in Dirty Dancing! She made other people feel special too and that’s why she got her very own facebook group dedicated to her! It’s called “I Love That Sweet Old Mocon Lady Who Calls Everybody Baby and Hope That She Gives Me Free Food Again.” Yeah, that pretty much sums it up. I hear she’s at Summerfields now if you wanna get some of that Grandma Magic.
The Grill Guy
Dave! He’s probably one of the friendliest people I have ever met and he just happened to be the grill guy at MoCon when I went there. Either one of those factors individually is enough for a man to be well-liked by stressed-out college students, but together they make for the kind of person that inspires worship. I have a kind of bad addiction to unhealthy foods and it totally reached new levels when I got to Dave’s grill station for the first time. He grilled whatever you would ask him to grill and it all looked pretty good, but for me it was always about the grilled cheese. The grilled cheese went fast and there was usually a line for it, but I had an ally in Dave. If I was the first person in line to not get a grilled cheese sandwich he would save me one in the next batch, freeing me up to get the best pizza slices. I don’t want to get into the food too much here, since that will be the subject of the next post, but with Dave that has always been a part of his legend.
He tells me he’s been at Wes for about 26 years and not always at the grill, which is crazy to me, because it seems to be his calling. At MoCon, he also worked at the sautee station, which used to be next to the pasta way back. I asked him what he misses about MoCon and it seems that what he loved most about the place was the chance to interact with the students and to get to know them. And it looks like my friends and I are not the first to become his fans. Like Grandma, he has a facebook fangroup. And he told me about the time when two parents came to his station for his cheeseburgers. When the cheeseburgers were ready he went out to the eating area to hand-deliver them (amazing, right?) and all of a sudden a table of athletic guys stood up and started chanting his name. He also apparently got serenaded once by the students on his birthday (Oct. 21st, mark your calendars). Yeah, he’s that good.
I still see him around sometimes but it’s not like in the old days. The grilled cheese is “healthier” and thus not as satisfying. And he’s usually too far back for me to see him and say hello. But if you get a chance to see him, maybe while he’s on break downstairs in the café, you should definitely chat it up with him. He genuinely enjoys talking with students and that’s just too lovely a disposition to be left to memory.
The Real Food Guy
He’s the one who served rice, chicken, veggies, potatoes, and other entree-type foods with an extra helping of sass. Nobody I’ve spoken to really remembers this guy, but I’m pretty sure I’m not making him up. If I asked something like, “Can I have some rice?,” he would respond with, “I don’t know, CAN you?” Yeah, he kept my English in check.
The Sandwich Guy
I never got sandwiches so I don’t know much about him except that he loved to stuff his sandwiches with meat. And then there was that time when he gave one of my favorite quotes ever to my friend: “Want some mo’ meat, baby?” I’m also pretty sure I saw him at a party on Fountain my sophomore year. He looked like he was having a good time.
The Pizza Guy [Rigatoni Tony?]
I feel bad that I don’t remember him, because he sounds like a great guy. The standard pepperoni or plain slice satisfied me, but apparently he took requests for other crazy pizzas and was also really friendly. More about pizza will come in the next post, but what do you remember about Pizza Guy?
The Specials Lady
I didn’t spend too much time at the Specials table because I was too busy going back for seconds and thirds at the grilled cheese and pizza sections. But I definitely heard stories about trying to get food from the Specials lady, whom we’ll call Cathy. Cathy apparently had a little bit of a short temper. It seems that nothing fired her up more than a kid who didn’t know what he wanted to order. If she asked you what you wanted, you had better be prepared with your order or be subjected to a verbal beatdown. As I said, I never witnessed this myself, but definitely saw the consequences of indecisiveness when my friends came back to our table shaken and bewildered.
My apologies to those members of the dining staff that I never got to know because I didn’t eat what they served or because they left before I came around. Some readers wrote in/commented about a few people that I don’t remember myself:
“Trish works the stir fry station (which only lasted for one year, but I swear I ate that stuff every day), Patty works the grill.”
“grumpy old lady: I once got to talking to her and it turns out she’s mostly grumpy because of how Aramark treated its workers and how she was too tired to play with her grandkids. She made the most consistent pizza.
Rigatoni Tony: he had some actual nickname that I forgot but it sounded like that. He was by far the most creative and would even take requests if you asked. His sweet potato and marshmallow pizza was way tastier than I expected when I asked for it.
girl: I have a really bad memory but there was another, younger girl who didn’t stick out as much as the others but when a friend gave her a flower on Valentines Day she made him a heart-shaped pizza”
“the crackhead dude who always talked about crack” [Sandwich Guy?]
So tell me, Wesleyan- what memories do you have of the dining staff and of the people with whom you shared the spaceship? Keep in mind that I will cover food and MoCon traditions in coming posts so don’t veer too off-topic in the comments for this post. But I really want to hear what people have to say. Maybe you can fill in some details or remind us of people I forgot or didn’t get to know. Take it away!