Decker is modest and unassuming with the kind of laugh that makes you laugh — happier because there are people out there with that kind of vivacity and whimsy. And, seemingly, at the end of every topic of conversation, there is the obligatory, “… but I’m not perfect.”
By day and season, Decker is a language arts teacher at Bridgeport High School in Bridgeport, Ohio. And like all doers and good teachers, she seems to pour her passion into her profession and work.
“I love it. It’s kind of like here. You’re not there to clock in and clock out. It’s a family. Teaching is a place of baggage, and you’re there to help them carry it sometimes.”
But when the day ends, it’s her family that truly makes life worth living. “At the end of the day, all I really want to do is play with my kids. Sometimes, I just want to put everything else off because when I get home, all I want to do is have fun with them. I did four loads of laundry today because I haven’t done any this week because I just want to play with them when they’re little, and I think everything else is less important when they’re around.”
Sadly, it’s those two things, her calling to be a teacher and a mentor as well as her passion for her family that is pulling her away from the Vagabond Kitchen.
“If it wasn’t for my family and having to grade essays, I’d probably keep doing my two to three shifts per week.”
When pressed to explain why she would continue to work when she has a stable day job, she was thoughtful for a moment before continuing.
“Well, for one, Katie [Welsch] is one of the best bosses I’ve ever had. It’s nice to work at a place where you’re treated with respect and not micromanaged. There are expectations, and it is assumed that those will be met. As a server, you’re expected to be a professional. As long as you do what you’re supposed to, no one is hovering over you. It’s weird, because they make it feel like when I’m here, I’m just hanging out and helping them out, but then it gets busy, and I’m like, ‘Whoa! I don’t think I’m hanging out anymore.’ The best thing about it is that everyone cares, but there aren’t really egos that make things about some people being better than others. It’s like you’re a part of this exclusive little club that no one else gets to be a part of. It’s exciting and fun.”
“The best thing about it is that everyone cares, but there aren’t really egos that make things about some people being better than others. It’s like you’re a part of this exclusive little club that no one else gets to be a part of. It’s exciting and fun.”
But in everything Decker says it always comes back to the quality of the food and the experience.
“I’ve worked at a few places in Wheeling, and, hands down, I’ve never been anywhere that takes as much care and pride in their food as The [Vagabond] Kitchen does. I’ve never seen them just throw a daily special together. There’s always this excitement surrounding it, and that’s not normal, you know? And it makes you want to do your job better too because you’re a part of it.”
When asked what her favorite thing would be about working at The Kitchen, she smiled. “It’s probably the chocolate chip cookies. Definitely the chocolate chip cookies.”
When I laughed, I think I heard her say, under her breath, “… but I’m not perfect.”
And then, she said, “I’m sorry. I’m just crazy lately. I think I need to start teaching again.”
Doers, we need more of them, especially when they know how to laugh through it all.