Saturday, September 02, 2006

The Theater Comes to Town

All KINDS of drama at the bakery . . . Jefe was gone this week, getting daughter off to college; he got back yesterday. Brad was an even bigger pain in the ass than usual, especially Thursday and Friday. He's constantly breaking somebody's balls, or trying to do so, and, since he can't actually fire the Hispanic guys, they just ignore him, though they bug him in smaller ways, or, more to the point, they just . . . aren't nice to him. And I bug him, because I try to be nice to the other guys, and they like me well enough (especially since they've figured out that Brad gets on my nerves, too, but back to that in a minute). I do whatever he tells me to do, willingly; I even get along with him, because he's not a bad guy--mostly, he's young, insecure, and without the backup of Jefe.

So he's gone today, off on vacation, and I say to Phil, "Hey, where's the professor?" And he and I get into a long conversation about Brad, despite Phil's relatively minimal English and my nonexistent Spanish. Here's a sample for you: I make the cinnamon raisin croissants by laying the rolled-out piece on the table, smearing it with cinnamon pastry cream and rum-soaked raisins, rolling it up (like a big jelly roll), and cutting slices. The very ends are ragged and unusable--too small to sell, and, because of the cinnamon, they can't be thrown back into the next batch of dough like I do with the ends from the other types of croissants. Artie likes these end pieces, so I throw them in the freezer and, when I have room on a pan, throw some on a pan and label it "lunch." It's no money out of Jefe's pocket, it's no skin off anyone's nose, and Artie likes them, so why the fuck not. Yesterday, Artie tells me that someone threw out the lunch pieces I'd put out Thursday night, he didn't know who, but they were right on top so he retrieved them. Today, Phil tells me that Brad's the one who threw them out, which, I'm sorry, is just petty and childish. Plus, Brad is constantly bitching about Artie, how he has it so easy and how he doesn't work very hard, and so on. Now, Jefe told me months ago that Artie "knows what he knows," i.e., he's limited, but so what? It doesn't bother Jefe, so why should it bother Brad? I pissed off Brad this week in another way regarding Artie--he told Artie to help me, Artie asked if I needed help, and I said no, because I didn't. My feeling is, unless it's late or I have a lot to do, I'll do my work, they'll do theirs, we'll lend each other a hand when needed, but otherwise, you get done at 2:00 today, 4:00 tomorrow, whatever. Brad has this notion that everyone should leave together or something, mostly because it gives him yet another opportunity to break Artie's balls. I dislike being put in the middle of it.

Or also with the cinnamon raisin croissants. Jefe came back from Boston with this thing they do with them. We have these bigger-than-muffin tins, with straight (rather than angled) sides. I spray some baking spray, glob some honey mixed with glucose, sprinkle with brown sugar, throw in some pecans, and, finally, put in a cinnamon raisin croissant, upside down. When they come out, oh, baby, they're gorgeous and sticky and really good. We've been selling them for less than two months, and people are already coming in and asking for them--we sold 18 today before noon (and had someone ask for another half-dozen after they were gone). So on Wednesday Brad says, don't use the cinnamon raisin croissants, that's too expensive, use the cinnamon rolls instead (which Artie makes, and, thus, I think, is another way to make Artie work more). I tried it, they were okay, but it's a different product, and the customers like the one we're making. I brought it up to Jefe yesterday, and he said Brad had mentioned it, and I said, you could easily get more for these--people are requesting them, fer chrissakes, don't change a successful product! So he says okay, we'll raise the price and see what happens, and he seemed to think that was a fine approach. It annoyed me, though: if Jefe doesn't think it's too expensive, then who the fuck is Brad to go on about it?

Meanwhile, yesterday was supposed to be pay day, but the checks were late; no biggie. Today, they're supposed to be there by 10 but aren't. Turns out, on Thursday Brad told Johnnie to make some German chocolate icing, Johnnie told Brad it wasn't his job; Brad was bitching about it the other day. So, apparently, Brad doesn't do the payroll, because "it's not his job." Or some such shit. Jefe told me that part of it, and then I heard a long conversation with Jefe, Artie, and Johnnie (and maybe Phil?), but it was mostly in Spanish and no one tried to include me, so I just stayed out of it. When Jefe brought it up to me before that, I said, well, nothing for nothing, and just between you and me, but Brad is constantly breaking these guys' balls, and he keeps trying to be the boss, and they're having none of it. Jefe completely agreed with me--it even seemed that he was kind of pleased with my recognition of the situation. Really, everything just goes more smoothly when Brad's not around. I realize that he does a lot of the administrative shit, and they don't necessarily see or appreciate that, but he's just . . . tiring. I made pizza today--after asking Jefe if it was okay with him--and Phil brought in a watermelon to share--looks like the spirit is spreading. And Phil offered to help with the croissants, too, though I didn't need it today. It's not just that I'm "nice" to them, or that I make pizza, or whatever; Brad just hasn't figured out how to get along. He thinks the bakery is a fine-dining kitchen, where a chef can be a prima donna. Sorry, dude, that ain't here.

One last thing: I have to tell you, today's croissants were things of beauty, Lamination, baby! Seriously; I can usually find something to nitpick about my work, but these were fucking gorgeous.

Okay, enough procrastination. Time to edit.


Blogger kStyle said...

You're having a good effect on the place. Reminds me of Stone Soup.

7:44 PM  
Blogger Emma Goldman said...

Thanks, darlin'! Just trying to get by . . .

8:42 PM  
Blogger kStyle said...

Some people become more selfish and draw inside when they're just trying to get by. You've instead greeted it with open hand. Give yourself credit and a big smile.

11:05 AM  
Blogger Larry Jones said...

Wow - a whole soap opera, right there in the bakery. All that's missing is a little romance and an evil twin in the next episode.

4:54 AM  

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