I was the Doughnut Lady. That was my real title. When people had a question about those pastries in particular, they were directed to the Doughnut Lady. By the end of my 3-month stint, I could recite doughnut taxonomy and calculate the value of any variety-dependent quantity in singles or in multiples of 6 & 12.
Anyway, I also realized that like the Boot Camp Baker mom, I too had great hours. I'd work most days from 5:00 to 11 am, and then go home and "look for a career" (beside the pool with a John Irving book). At this point in my life, I had just exited college 5 months earlier, and was lingering in that "you deserve a break" stage. Still, it wasn't all good. On Saturdays and Sundays I'd arrive at work at 4:00 am. While I sat outside in the dark eating my breakfast waiting for the doughnuts to thaw, I could hear the SeaBees counting off during their am PT at the Base in Gulfport. Besides me and those poor kids, old farts who apparently slept particularly poorly on the weekends, and drunks on their way home from the bars seemed to be the only ones awake and possibly hungry enough to eat a Winn-Dixie doughnut.
The bakery manager Joey was a 21-year old party boy who liked to brag about his recent lease of a brand new big red truck. It's bed seemed to be the big draw for him and his buddies who used it as comfortable seating while getting wasted on Miller Lite in the Winn Dixie parking lot on many-an-evening. Additionally, I noted that Joey must have failed every spelling test he ever took. I remember one weekend he took off work, & left us with a list of tasks. Among them, "make cinemon rolls" and"wipe down the frige?" Come ON!
Additionally, my fellow employees were quintessential contributors to my "Mississippi Immersion" project. As foreign (to me) as they were, they were so nice! Jan was from Minnesota, but besides her misplaced accent, she was a born Southerner. Her boyfriend was a 'classic' trucker dude (not like our modern cowboy - wireless internet - mountain biking friend Don, who also happens to drive a Rig. Hi Don.), who was suspected of seeing somebody on the side. Her updates were rousing and disturbing all at once. Then there was Miss LA. I can't remember her name right now, but Miss LA, who was always genuinely forgetting the dress code and how long to bake certain breads, had a favorite joke. It goes like this.
Hey y'all, we're going to LA this weekend to visit my cousins.Really, LA?
Yeah, Lo-wa Ala-ba-ma! Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!(For those who may not know Lower Alabama.)
I can't forget about Tameka, the Cake Lady, who would always tout to customers, "yes, our cakes are fresh," (out of the freezer, off a truck from Georgia where they were baked fresh last month). Tameka was sure good at making the customer happy. When she & Miss LA weren't at the Sicily's Pizza Buffet, she performed some awesome cake decorating, and I have great respect for her skill. Some of my least fun moments were spent trying to squeeze out "Happy Birthday ____________" onto a sheet cake while being observed by some executive assistant on her way to work during the wee early doughnut-making hours. My "Happy Birthdays" looked like I had Parkinson's Disease - I felt sorry for Elizabeth, Richard, and the small host of others who's hopes of seeing their name in sweet swooping cursive atop a "fresh" Winn-Dixie cake were dashed as the lid lifted. Anway, Tameka could sure decorate a cake! Her other talent was keeping us laughing with her color commentary of our conversations, and thinking up the new store greeting: "Welcome to Winn-Dick-me."
As fun as those 3 months were, I was happy to be starting my new career at the Stennis Space Center Wellness Center (39529 - amazed that we had our own zip code!). Despite being tipped off by my bakery manager that if I stuck around a couple more months, I could have his job, I took the SSCWC offer and began my 5-year tenure as a Fitness Technician. Yay!
One last note: working at the Winn-Dixie Bakery wasn't my worst job ever. It was actually quite relaxing and fun. My worst job ever was one I had waiting tables for Pagliai's Pizza in college in Kirksville, MO. There I'd received pennies, a stack of pepperoni, Kool cigarettes, and most often, simply nothing for a tip. Our patronage primarily consisted of 'the salt of the earth,' college students, and a few random, unsuspecting groups. The downtown business cronies (mayor etc.) came in every day at 2:00 for coffee and smokes. The wait staff was referred to as the "girls," and were required to keep their cups full until told otherwise, and were left no tips, less what I'd categorize as dirty old man chuckles and inappropriate comments & jokes. The manager, Tony was a grumpy a-hole who regulated his girlfriend's (an employee) food intake and daily activities. The other employees fit right in; stealing from the register, coming to work drunk and late, and frequently informing the customers that this time they were not right. I'm still yuckified by that unique stink that Pizza Schmizza, Pizzacatto has in common with Paglaia's (though lacking the stale cigarette component). Yuck! I need a shower. Sorry, but that's how this post is ending. Now smile!
Yes, please add your first/worst jobs in your comments!