For most Americans, working two jobs is a necessity to make it in today’s economy.
Oxford resident Tae Cathey rises at 4 a.m. and leaves an hour later traveling to the Hampton Inn West in Oxford where she makes breakfast. Workers with hot pans, eggs and meats bicker over whose turn it is to make and fill the waffle mix. Today was Cathey’s turn.
Oatmeal is the first thing prepared, then fruit and pastry. Waffle ingredients must be poured and mixed into a container presented to hungry tourists.Then the eggs and meats are cooked.
Cathey’s coworker Savana Nelson said she is dedicated to her job. “Tae is one of the most hard-working people I know,” she said, “and she never fails to put a smile on my face.”
Nelson met Cathey in January of 2017 at the Hampton Inn West, and they have maintained a close working relationship. Most of her coworkers seem to have a similar relationship with her and enjoy her company.
At noon, Cathey returns home to relax before her second job. She has lunch and dinner and takes a nap. Her daughter usually has to be at work by 4 p.m., so Cathey drives her to work and returns home in time to get ready for work by 5:30 p.m.
Cathey protects innocent moviegoers within the Malco Oxford Commons Cinema and Grill. She is a security guard for both the theater and Premier Lanes bowling alley next door. A slow day involves pacing the buildings until the last people leave the doors, keeping her eyes peeled for troublemakers or underage children trying to sneak into a movie.
Tonight “The Black Panther” debuted, and Cathey said it was one of the best nights she’s had working at the theater. Many fans came dressed in African-inspired clothing to support the movie.
“It was kind of neat to me,” Cathey said. “It makes me want to do that when I come. I love seeing all the people going all out for something they love, and showing their culture out in public.”
Another memorable night was patrolling for the fall thriller “It.” Cathey had to kick out several people in one night.
“These kids were trying to go to a movie that started and ended three hours before,” she said. “They went to the wrong side of the theater and everything, straight to ‘It.’ It was fun to catch them and take them out of the theater. The busy nights with R-rated movies are always the most fun.”
Cathey stays until 12:30 a.m. usually, when the last movie lets out. Sometimes, she overstays her welcome. She explained:
“I didn’t know everyone had left yet, and when I left, I tripped the alarm and had to wait for the police to show up,” she said. “It was real awkward trying to explain to them that I worked here and wasn’t trying to steal anything. The employees laughed at me the next day.”
During the week, Cathey works one job, slinging bacon at the hotel for children always wanting seconds. On weekends, after leaving the theater, she has three to four hours of sleep, before getting back up in the morning to do it all again.
Cathey isn’t a world-famous rock star or leading lady in a multimillion dollar film, but she’s a local representation of a classic, hardworking American, getting up every day to go to work, provide for her family, and get the job done.
“It’s all worth it at the end of the day when the direct deposit hits,” she said, “and I’m happy at home with my baby girl.”