Stacy’s Work

Writing, Video Production and Photography By Tony Spiker

I arrived at Stacy Bachtel’s apartment at 6:30 in the morning. It was a chilly morning and I wished that I had more of a coat. However, she was waiting for me to arrive. She was in the middle of eating her breakfast — oatmeal and a banana. After she finishes her oatmeal she gets up and puts the dishes away and comes back with the banana. She finishes the banana gets up and throws the peel. She brushes her teeth and prepares to go to work. Routine, routine, routine.

As Stacy walks out of her house she reminds me somewhat of the little brother from “A Christmas Story.” I realize that she is better prepared than I am and I am more than a little jealous. My button up shirt is a little too thin for the weather, and it’s a long walk to the bus stop.

I have never ridden a public bus before. I am more than a little confused and am imminently glad that I have a guide for this journey. It’s about ten miles from her apartment to the Starbucks at the Joe Crowley Student Union on the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) Campus where she works. When we first get on the bus it is fairly empty, but as we get closer to downtown the crowd picks up. People are talking on their cell phones, or reading—carrying on their morning routine. Stacy sits there the whole way. Once she puts on Chap Stick, but mostly stares out the window.

We wait at the transfer station for close to a half an hour. From the station it is less than a half a mile to the Starbucks, but I know that this is not her normal routine, so I don’t tell her that it would be quicker to walk. Really I am just cold and want to keep moving. Stacy looks warm in her coat and scarf.

We arrive at the Starbucks and everyone is happy to see her. She seems to generate a smile from everyone there. She is well liked and they are more than a little suspicious at the large man with a camera that is following her around. However, Stacy tells everyone that she is going to be a movie star and they all laugh. She works two days a week from 8 am to 1 pm. Ten hours a week, at minimum wage is not much money. It is certainly not enough money to support yourself. But what it lacks in monetary reward it makes up for in dignity. Fifteen to 20 years ago, Stacy could have found herself working in an institutionalized setting doing some menial repetitive task. At the time the segregation of the disabled into institutions like this was commonplace and thought of as a good thing. It allowed them to be productive in society. I cannot help but think of prisoners stamping out license plates.

Scott Harrington was the one who got her the job at Starbucks. He is the director for youth transition at the Nevada Center for Excellence in Disabilities, located on the UNR campus. Stacy was the first person that was referred to his customized employment project, and after meeting her he searched for a job that would fit the skills that she was able to bring to the table. It did not take long. After that initial meeting, where Scott noticed how clean and meticulous her apartment was, he was in Starbucks, getting a cup of coffee. The coffee shop was so busy at the time, that none of the workers had time to clean up the sitting area. Cups and litter were strewn about. The floors needed sweeping, chairs were scattered from their tables. It did not convey a professional and neat image. He approached the manager and told him about Stacy.

“She is great, and we love having her here. She is able to keep the seating area clean, which frees up more people to help with making coffee. She really helps us to provide better customer service,” said Roland Castro-Boulware, the manager of the Starbucks.