The Quitugs


where I am now

2014 was a whirlwind for me. I had graduated from UCF with my bachelor’s degree, gotten an apartment with my girlfriend at the time, and began to figure out slowly what I wanted out of life (at the moment.)It was a year that surged with the excitement of starting a life with someone, and then collapsed into a haze of doubt and depression. But it led me to the position I wanted to be in: a legitimate reporter on my way to building my own life. In a little over a week, I’ll be on my way to Idaho to cover the city of Burley for the Times-News.

Before I get to that, there are quite a few people who have been with me the whole way. My mother allowed me to move back home when things between me and my girlfriend fell apart, and I left Orlando. Always assuring me there’s no shame in needing help from time to time, she let me stay at home rent-free. My cousin Mike, who rarely breaks a sweat, instilled in me the motto of “fuck it.” Anytime a stressful situation, or a less-than-ideal situation comes up – fuck it. Let’s do it up. My friends Ed, Andy, and Nicole, all three of whom I’ve been friends with since I was a teenager, heard me out when I bitched about doing it up at my part-time. They had all graduated a year prior and had to work menial jobs before getting to what they wanted to be doing.

Post-graduation, I was going through those same menial jobs. Up until this past November, I was a dishwasher, busser, expo person and cashier at Ethos Vegan Kitchen in Winter Park, Florida. I cut my teeth slinging hot plates to the line cooks while cutting my hands digging through bus tubs with broken glasses. I sat patiently as I heard this on the phone all day: “um, your menu says you’re a vegan restaurant but it says you have chick’n.”

After I moved back to Tampa, my hometown, I picked up a cashier gig at Target. Instead of pitching stories, I was aggressively pitching the Redcard. I was hauling carts in the sun, serving up hot dogs and pop corn, and taking the brunt of only the friendliest of attitudes in affluent South Tampa. It wasn’t uncommon to greet a guest only to get in return a cold stare and a silence that worked just as well as sa Ying “fuck you, pal.” One guy even reached at my face with a toy mechanical claw.

However, these jobs each taught me something. At Target, I fully realized that news writing is what I want to be doing. And that if I want to get to where I want to be, I can’t let anything get in the way. Especially dudes with toy mechanical claws. At Ethos, I learned to take pride in hard work. Whether I was getting grimey in the dish pit or wiping up tables or sending out meals to servers, I was sweating and earning my rent check.

So I took that hard-work ethos and applied it to my job search. I focused on smaller papers in small towns far from home, preferring the change and all the scary I-don’t-know-if-I-can-do-this bullshit that comes with it. Because that is truly monumental in a young person’s life. Fast-forward a few months, and I’ve just accepted a general assignment reporter gig with the Times-News in Idaho. Home to white water rivers, mountains and a population lower than my side of Tampa. I’m excited.

I can’t end this without talking about Mallory, my first love. When I wrote for the Central Florida Future, she kept clippings of my articles and tacked them on my wall. She bragged about my writing to her mom and our friends. When my articles were muffed up by poor editing, she was just as pissed as I was. She pushed me to keep writing every day, and pushed me to keep looking for reporting jobs, even if it meant leaving Orlando. Though things didn’t quite end up the way we wanted, we’re both on our way to where we need to be. While I’m out in Idaho reporting, she’ll be in the boat I just got out of, moving home with her parents and saving up money to find work in New Orleans. I look forward to one day hearing her with a Cajun accent.


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