Wesleying’s MoCon Retrospective: Part 1- The People

happymocon

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.

crowdedThis 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.

The Cardswipers

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

pattinson scowling

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.

Grandma

grandmaI 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.

grilled cheese

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 GuyGrammar Police

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 GuyHuge-Bacon-Sandwich

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?]pizza

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

scaredI 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.

Others

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?]

Thanks, guys!

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!

35 thoughts on “Wesleying’s MoCon Retrospective: Part 1- The People

  1. Pingback: Wesleying’s MoCon Retrospective: Part 2- The Food – Wesleying

  2. Wes '08 alumnus

    This makes me miss Wesleyan so much. After a long stressful day of class I could always rely on Grandma MoCon calling me “Baby” to make me feel good. I will always miss MoCon, Usdan is just not the same.

  3. Wes '08 alumnus

    This makes me miss Wesleyan so much. After a long stressful day of class I could always rely on Grandma MoCon calling me “Baby” to make me feel good. I will always miss MoCon, Usdan is just not the same.

  4. 97-98?

    Hey, I was a frosh in ’97 and ’98. Used to go back occasionally as an upperclassman as well. Does anyone remember “the milk guy?” I think he had a learning disability of some sort, but he was dead set on putting the milk containers inside the metal dispenser contraptions with as much brutal efficiency as possible. If you stood in his way for a moment with your cereal he’d pretty much shove you aside in order to do the job. Before realizing he was a little different, we all thought he was just a jerk.

  5. 97-98?

    Hey, I was a frosh in ’97 and ’98. Used to go back occasionally as an upperclassman as well. Does anyone remember “the milk guy?” I think he had a learning disability of some sort, but he was dead set on putting the milk containers inside the metal dispenser contraptions with as much brutal efficiency as possible. If you stood in his way for a moment with your cereal he’d pretty much shove you aside in order to do the job. Before realizing he was a little different, we all thought he was just a jerk.

  6. fnv

    My two favorite MoCon stories:

    At Orientation freshman year, a female friend of mine was waiting in the grilled cheese line. Trying to make conversation, she asked the girl behind her, “So… do you come here often?” The girl thought my friend was hitting on her, so she left.

    I loved the deli and had sandwiches pretty much every day. My friend had never tried it before, so she came with me and tried to order a sandwich. She started asking for lettuce, tomato, spouts, and the older woman making the sandwich cut her off, with a curt “What kind of bread?”

    My friend was caught off guard and returned, “Oh, I don’t know. What kind of bread do you like?”

    Immediately, quietly, and full of loathing, the woman replied, “I hate bread.”

  7. fnv

    My two favorite MoCon stories:

    At Orientation freshman year, a female friend of mine was waiting in the grilled cheese line. Trying to make conversation, she asked the girl behind her, “So… do you come here often?” The girl thought my friend was hitting on her, so she left.

    I loved the deli and had sandwiches pretty much every day. My friend had never tried it before, so she came with me and tried to order a sandwich. She started asking for lettuce, tomato, spouts, and the older woman making the sandwich cut her off, with a curt “What kind of bread?”

    My friend was caught off guard and returned, “Oh, I don’t know. What kind of bread do you like?”

    Immediately, quietly, and full of loathing, the woman replied, “I hate bread.”

  8. miss mocon

    I miss how there was the deli section! Where the older woman and teenage girl would make sandwiches for you! Now, you have to rummage through the cold cut mess that others have touched…eww.

    And I REALLY MISS the section dedicated to yogurt and granola. A BIG vat of yogurt and an equally BIG bowl of granola. Miss that.

  9. miss mocon

    I miss how there was the deli section! Where the older woman and teenage girl would make sandwiches for you! Now, you have to rummage through the cold cut mess that others have touched…eww.

    And I REALLY MISS the section dedicated to yogurt and granola. A BIG vat of yogurt and an equally BIG bowl of granola. Miss that.

  10. anon

    The best part of Mocon was when they turned up the music, and turned down the lights around 7:45 pm. At which point, it became Club Mocon.

  11. anon

    The best part of Mocon was when they turned up the music, and turned down the lights around 7:45 pm. At which point, it became Club Mocon.

  12. Sarah

    I remember Real Food guy! He was definitely sassy, but he was always nice to me.

    I also remember there being a very grumpy old lady who yelled at us if we lingered at our tables after the kitchen had closed – I was scared of her!

    Also, grumpy pizza lady?

    In my memory, it seems like everyone at MoCon was either extremely nice or sort of grumpy and scary.

    I was so, so excited last year when I went to Summerfields for the first time in ages and Grandma MoCon was there. Love her.

  13. Sarah

    I remember Real Food guy! He was definitely sassy, but he was always nice to me.

    I also remember there being a very grumpy old lady who yelled at us if we lingered at our tables after the kitchen had closed – I was scared of her!

    Also, grumpy pizza lady?

    In my memory, it seems like everyone at MoCon was either extremely nice or sort of grumpy and scary.

    I was so, so excited last year when I went to Summerfields for the first time in ages and Grandma MoCon was there. Love her.

  14. whatshername

    Wow, you guys are good! Based on your descriptions of this James fella I’m guessing he’s the one I saw at that party. He was wearing a mesh shirt, I remember that because I’d never thought of mesh as party material before then.

  15. whatshername

    Wow, you guys are good! Based on your descriptions of this James fella I’m guessing he’s the one I saw at that party. He was wearing a mesh shirt, I remember that because I’d never thought of mesh as party material before then.

  16. ah-nan

    The “real food guy/Can you guy” is named JAMES and I still see him wandering Main street occasionally. He got fired for “sexual harassment” which is bull because he harassed everyone equally. He was a gem! If you asked for “a little of everything” he would literally give you one green bean, one dollop of sauce, etc. all down the line until he was done then he would look at you and wait for you to ask “Can I have a little more?” “I dunno CAN you?”

    Also, don’t forget the motley crew of Middletown teenagers that would clean up at the end of a meal and whip each other with their rags.

    I LOVED MOCON.

  17. ah-nan

    The “real food guy/Can you guy” is named JAMES and I still see him wandering Main street occasionally. He got fired for “sexual harassment” which is bull because he harassed everyone equally. He was a gem! If you asked for “a little of everything” he would literally give you one green bean, one dollop of sauce, etc. all down the line until he was done then he would look at you and wait for you to ask “Can I have a little more?” “I dunno CAN you?”

    Also, don’t forget the motley crew of Middletown teenagers that would clean up at the end of a meal and whip each other with their rags.

    I LOVED MOCON.

  18. anon

    even tho are are making a joke and not trying to be cruel- it isn’t funny to make fun of sexual harassment- it is this attitude (your being pissed off someone would report it) that is completely insensitive

  19. anon

    even tho are are making a joke and not trying to be cruel- it isn’t funny to make fun of sexual harassment- it is this attitude (your being pissed off someone would report it) that is completely insensitive

  20. Sam

    A few enhancements:

    1. The Real Food Guy’s real name was James. He disappeared sometime during the 06-07 year, apparently because someone reported him for sexual harassment. That pisses me off because he was definitely an equal-opportunity harasser. Someone was just too sensitive. James has since been spotted stumbling around the North End of Main St., clearly messed up on who-knows-what.

    2. The Specials Station was also known as the Exhibition Station.

    3. Neckbrace guy is also known as Señor WesShoppe (he also has a Facebook page), as he worked at Weshop for a while before taking the card-swiping job. I’m quite sure he’s back at Weshop now. After he had the neck brace he disappeared for a few months and then reappeared with a shaved head covered by a bandana. Apparently he had brain surgery.

    4. I’m not sure if this is Rigatoni Tony, but there was definitely a pizza guy named Dale and he was the man. He once told me, “Man, I can’t wait for my shift to end so I can go home, put up my feet, and pop an oxy.” I occasionally see Dale around Usdan.

  21. Sam

    A few enhancements:

    1. The Real Food Guy’s real name was James. He disappeared sometime during the 06-07 year, apparently because someone reported him for sexual harassment. That pisses me off because he was definitely an equal-opportunity harasser. Someone was just too sensitive. James has since been spotted stumbling around the North End of Main St., clearly messed up on who-knows-what.

    2. The Specials Station was also known as the Exhibition Station.

    3. Neckbrace guy is also known as Señor WesShoppe (he also has a Facebook page), as he worked at Weshop for a while before taking the card-swiping job. I’m quite sure he’s back at Weshop now. After he had the neck brace he disappeared for a few months and then reappeared with a shaved head covered by a bandana. Apparently he had brain surgery.

    4. I’m not sure if this is Rigatoni Tony, but there was definitely a pizza guy named Dale and he was the man. He once told me, “Man, I can’t wait for my shift to end so I can go home, put up my feet, and pop an oxy.” I occasionally see Dale around Usdan.

  22. Sarah

    i had totally forgotten about neckbrace guy. he WAS nicer to the girls.

    also, the specials lady — her name was marie. she was angry but nice when she was in a good mood, and she made me some meals to remember. she worked in usdan, too, but must have left — that was 2 years ago.

    hey — remember the mocon bathrooms?

    and how on sundae sundays there was nothing to eat BUT sundaes? good times

  23. Sarah

    i had totally forgotten about neckbrace guy. he WAS nicer to the girls.

    also, the specials lady — her name was marie. she was angry but nice when she was in a good mood, and she made me some meals to remember. she worked in usdan, too, but must have left — that was 2 years ago.

    hey — remember the mocon bathrooms?

    and how on sundae sundays there was nothing to eat BUT sundaes? good times

  24. sahm

    AHHHHH THIS POST ROCKSSS. a few comments:

    Dave was, and will always be, known as grill master. To those who know him now- you have no idea. Its like spiderman before he got bit by a radioactive spider. Usdan is like Kryptonite for him. Not that he’s not awesome in his current role, but Mocon was his place.

    The panini machine was actually a person in mocon as well. In usdan its just this thing that you put stuff in and have it get panini’d. In Mocon it was your old reliable friend. Dave Wolovsky and the panini machine had an intimate relationship.

    I don’t know if we’re only going for specific people, but how about the unsuspecting prefrosh who would lean over the railing for just long enough to get the tables pounding.

    The specials lady was so evil!

  25. sahm

    AHHHHH THIS POST ROCKSSS. a few comments:

    Dave was, and will always be, known as grill master. To those who know him now- you have no idea. Its like spiderman before he got bit by a radioactive spider. Usdan is like Kryptonite for him. Not that he’s not awesome in his current role, but Mocon was his place.

    The panini machine was actually a person in mocon as well. In usdan its just this thing that you put stuff in and have it get panini’d. In Mocon it was your old reliable friend. Dave Wolovsky and the panini machine had an intimate relationship.

    I don’t know if we’re only going for specific people, but how about the unsuspecting prefrosh who would lean over the railing for just long enough to get the tables pounding.

    The specials lady was so evil!

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