Posts Tagged ‘bakery’
November 29, 2011 | by Vanessa Blakeslee
I became a writer because I was raised at a diner in rural Pennsylvania.
My parents opened the Chestnuthill Diner the first week of August 1984. The diner arrived the summer I turned five, and I watched, gaping, as its twin sections were maneuvered from flatbed trailers onto the concrete foundation that had been poured weeks earlier.
I celebrated my fifth birthday in a corner booth, pleased by the shiny chrome and flame-red seats, the flurry of waitresses rushing past in their brown-and-white striped uniforms, the tables bursting with customers. That was the first day the larger world opened up to me, the realm outside school and playmates, where real life really happened—the swear-laden frays between the cooks masked by radios blasting heavy metal, the combined whiff of grease and lettuce as the produce deliverymen wheeled their hand trucks in the back door, the coolness of the dough resting in the kitchen.
After school, on weekends, and for the next six summers, I would enter the back door of the diner on the heels of my mother, who trundled her coin bags, bookkeeping ledgers, and payroll checks. Past the bright bakery where dinner rolls and pies cooled on the racks, around the corner of whirring compressors and my grandfather’s work bench—he kept himself busy part-time as our fix-it man—stood the basement offices. Read More »
September 27, 2011 | by Chris Flynn
John Brandon: I did my best for a while at a lumber mill that fashioned blunt-tip wooden arrows. The only use for the product, as far as I know, is in schools that teach archery as part of their PE program. This may have been the only wooden-arrow producer in the country. I was the new man, as I always was in those days, so I had to drag the colossal hunks of raw cedar around to the head saw. If one were to design a task for the specific purpose of causing hernias, this would be that task. Perilously awkward, perilously heavy lifting. Another thing left to the new guy was rolling the arrows to see which were warped. You had to lean over a wide table for hours on end, knotting your shoulders and neck. I also shoveled out the sawdust room. All the sawdust from the mill was sucked up and blown into this stifling shed that leaned against the main building, and once a week I had to put on a mask and wedge myself in there and shovel it all into canvas bags. It took most of a day. Once in a while a circus would come and purchase all the sawdust—I’m not sure why. Anyway, the place was in the middle of nowhere, so on breaks there was nothing to do but lean against the outside wall and pick sawdust out of your nose and ears.
I worked Monday to Thursday, ten hours a day, with a forty-five-minute drive at each end. Thursday nights, my work week over, my girlfriend would drag me to a beach bonfire where I’d dull my aches with Alaskan Amber and eat hamburgers, tugboats belching in the distance. The wee hours of one of those nights was the only time, as an adult, that I pissed the bed. Being thoroughly drunk and sort of tired had never caused this. Being thoroughly tired and sort of drunk did. Not to mention our studio apartment hung out over the sound, so we slumbered each night to the lapping of gentle waves.
Brian Evenson: In 1987, as a young college student, I had the pleasure of working four abysmally bad jobs, all of them at hours when no human should be awake. First I worked the graveyard shift in a sweeper truck, sweeping parking lots. I was the guy who would get out with a leaf blower in freezing cold weather and blow all the debris away from the curbs so the truck could get it. My partner’s job seemed to involve sitting in the heated cab getting high. When that job collapsed, I moved on to working the graveyard shift at a twenty-four-hour fast-food Mexican restaurant. It was just me and a very fat manager with peroxide hair who spent the time from one A.M. to two A.M. smoking, and two A.M. to four A.M. sleeping. When I finally couldn’t take that any more, I took a job as a part-time bread processor for the university, working from three A.M. to seven A.M. putting dough in an automatic proofer and then into an oven. I quit this job because my hands broke out in a rash. Simultaneously, I was washing pans in the backroom of another bakery from seven A.M. to nine A.M. I was fired from that because I couldn’t make it over quickly enough from my bread-processing job. There was, later, ditch-digging, working as a labor subforeman for a construction crew, working as an assistant manager at Hamburger World, and a job trying to program in a computer language that I didn’t know. But, in 1987, I didn’t have a single bearable job.