The Art Site

Sunday, April 01, 2007


Hi, this is my first post.

'Hi Thierry' I mumble as I weave my way through the counter, past my frantic workmates and into the back of the shop where my boss is laying out a sheet of pastry on his table. He looks up swiftly. 'HELLO!' he shouts after me as I head quickly to the 'changing room,' really just an undersized room with a toilet where everyone changes for work. Then I hear a distant 'How are you?' 'OK thanks' I say through my T-shirt which I'm pulling on with notable speed. At Thierry's not a second must be wasted. Walking through the maze of bags and stumbling out to the sink I pick up the steamy chicken bowl and get busy 'picking out chicken guts' as one of the girls tastefully describes it. The offensive smell of boiled chicken hits my nose as I dig out a chicken with one hand and with the other scrape away the greasy skin, pull off the white meat which I throw into a container and then pull the rest of the 'seconds meat' into another container. Suddenly I feel my nose about to drip. With my hands full of slimy chicken and with the remembrance that I have forgotten to bring my handkerchief again I snuffle quietly. The boss looks up. 'What's wrong, huh?'he asks in his French accent, his eyes full of concern, as though I'd just been crying or something. 'nthings wrog' I sniffle and wipe my nose on my sleeve with a sigh. We keep working and my head spins with the smell of boiled chicken.

later in the day.

'Lyds!' a girl called Katy says.'Yeah?'I ask, wondering what the next job is.I rub my hands on my apron expectantly. 'You're on fridge today,'she announces ' and get Phoebe to work with you, ok?' 'Sure.'I answer and all hope of escaping fridge duties for the day vanish.I turn to the owner of the name Phoebe. 'All right, Phoebe, let's grab a couple of buckets,aye?' I reach up on tip-toes to get two buckets, the late possessors of margarine. Crossing over to the sink I narrowly escape certain death by sliding on a greasy spot on the floor. Clutching onto the sink and heaving myself up I retrieve the buckets from the floor and fill them up with hot water and some triple concentrate dish wash, while ignoring the giggles of Phoebe who must have witnessed my unladylike sprawl. We head to the fridge, a small room with shelves and trolleys and a blast of cold air hits. Pulling out the trolley that fills the narrow space where we work, I hustle Phoebe into the fridge. Cold air, like time, must not be wasted here. We dip our cloths into the warm soapy water and pull all the containers of food from the shelves, wiping a few lids as we go. With our legs splayed out around the containers on the ground we wipe the shelves down and have a good chat.Suddenly the door opens. Katy is there with an enormous tub of bread dough. 'Can you guys lift this up for me?' she pants, obviously struggling with the weight.'Uh-huh' I mutter, and take the tub from her. It is heavy. Staggering to the shelves I somehow climb up them and dump the dough at the top. The health experts would have been horrified to watch me lift that lump of dough. I fall limply to the ground and we continue the cleaning with vigor.

even later in the day.

By now Thierry has gone, and Sophie and I are cleaning the front of the shop, I with my 'TRAINEE' label hanging round my neck, so that every customer will understand that I am not an old hand at serving. Taking the sliding doors out of the biscuit cabinet and lifting the plastic sheets with the biscuits on it carefully o
nto the table near the rolls cabinet, I start cleaning the plastic. Before I can finish a sheet the bell rings. A customer has entered the shop. I let him survey the food for a minute and then ask if I can be of any help. Some day, I'm sure of it, someone will snap at me :'Well of course you can, what the heck do you think I'm here for?' The customer looks up, as though doubting if I could be of any assistance at all. 'Hmmm? Oh yes, I'd like one of those chicken cranberry roll thingamys.' I wrap the bun up in a paper bag. 'Would you like anything else, there?' I ask and immediately regret it as the man hands me a crumpled fiver without a word. 'That's three dollars ninety, then.' I say pleasantly, and hand him his change. The receipt machine buzzes. 'Would you like your receipt sir? I say, tearing the paper along the crinkled edge.A grunt. Handing him the bill I bid him a nice day and wearily get back to my biscuit cabinet.

Just a usual Saturday.

go to the Village Bakehouse website


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