Saturday, July 12, 2008

I am Bakery Death.

I manage a bakery.

Let me rephrase that.

I got the job as part-time counter help, minimum wage while I dumped resumes anywhere I could in search of real work. Two months later with double salary I was running the place. About once a month my boss asks me things like "You... you're not moving away any time soon, right?" I have found my niche and I am niching my ass off in it.

That said, the job I do means that in times of crisis I am the last line of defense. Network goes down? I bring it back up. We need 700 eggs for crepe batter and the dairy delivery isn't coming until tomorrow? I find them. The attachment arm on the 55 year old 20 quart Hobart mixer snaps off? I cannibalize more off the for-parts mixer and make the repair.

It's a one-store artisan bakery with wholesale accounts, but it's literally a battle every day to turn ingredients into food and make sure said food gets where it needs to be. Getting in at 5 am and not leaving until 8 pm is a common thing. But I like it. It's high stress and I thrive on it.

Most people buying something from a bakery are happy. I mean, it's a bakery, they're getting something from it. Nobody comes to a bakery to get a loaf of bread because the loaf of bread in their 93 Toyota Corolla just blew a seal and it's going to be $600 if they take it to a mechanic. They come because they like bread. There are, unfortunately, screwups. Most are pretty easy to resolve. You ordered bread and we don't have it? Here, have more other bread for free! Your cake is for 2 pm and it is 2 pm but it's still a half hour away from being completed?

Here's some credit and we'll deliver it anywhere you want us to. This satisfies 99% of the people.

The 1% are what makes my job interesting. These are the people who have nervous breakdowns because the pink on their cake is "light" pink not "pastel" pink. Because the high school logo they wanted on their precious little snowflake's graduation cake is in the center of the cake not the top left corner of the cake. The people who come in and ask for something, which we tell them we only make by special order and we'd be happy to put in an order for them, but they refuse because they "don't know when they'll be back this way" then show up the next day asking for the same thing, and flip out because we don't have it again even though they came in and asked for it yesterday and we should've known they would be back even though they said they didn't know when they'd be back. These are the people who get raging erections because they get to scream at some 17 year old just trying to make enough to get high on their weekend off. The won't be happy, no matter what you give them.

Pile them high with free product and credits, they'll still yell they didn't get what they wanted.

So I don't give them anything. I spent 3 years managing a Blockbuster after high school. I got screwed over corporate more times than I can count, over customer issues where they were 100% in the wrong but it didn't matter since "the customer is always right".

I promised if I was ever in a position where I was the end of the line for complaints I would never be that person, and I'm not. I back up the clerks when I know they're right and the customer is wrong. My eyes glaze over as I'm yelled at, and my disdain is palpable to that 1%. I give no ground. I am Bakery Death. It makes the 15 hour days worthwhile when someone who deserves no special treatment gets just that.

A quick story and then I'm done. The previous "high school logo in the wrong place" problem actually happened. It was in the center, instead of the top left. Nothing was wrong with the cake. The order had no mention of placement of logo, and there was nothing I could do about it. The woman was absolutely livid, she'd spent a few minutes screaming and cursing at one of the clerks before I got called up. She continued the diatribe with me, which at the end of I apologized, and offered her money back. She replied in the affirmative with more profanity that she wanted her money back, which I handed to her. Then she demanded the cake, too.

The cake she'd just spent 15 minutes foaming at the mouth over, making a scene in a busy store. The cake that was so horrible, it required a string of profanity that would make sailors call their mothers and apologize for a lifetime of scurrilous behavior. The cake that was sitting on the counter between us. I told her no. She replied in no uncertain terms that she would be leaving the store with the cake and her refund, and reached for it.

I put my fist through the cake, and told her if her next movement wasn't towards the exit, mine would be towards the phone to call the police.

She left.

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