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  • Writer's pictureRKPROST

Opening an Everyday Oasis

Just as the sun brightens the sky, you walk through the door and are welcomed by the scent of freshly baked bread and by the girl behind the front counter. Drawn to the fully stocked glass case filled with colorful sweets, you select your favorite. The bakery tissue crinkles as the pastry is lifted from its layered position and delicately placed onto a tray. Plate in one hand and mug in another, you proceed to a cushy booth to enjoy your breakfast. You’re satisfied but unaware of what happened sixty minutes prior to ensure that friendly interaction.

I rub the sleep out of my eyes and walk through the door just before sunrise. Greeted by several racks of pastries and bagels waiting to be organized in an attractive fashion, my routine begins. The rack of cookies are dragged behind the registers. Not having enough trays, I grab some from the back.

I wheel a rack of baked goods to the display case and notice the labels are facing the wrong direction. I turn them and discover that the orange scone sign and cherry pastry were switched, as were the rest. Scones and muffins get peeled off the wax paper and individually layered into an appealing formation. Cinnamon crunch topping goes flying as I gently toss each bagel into its basket. Scattered throughout the main walkway, a variety of excess flavored bagels were on pans, which I began to consolidate by flavor.

My manager walks by and says, “The bagels need to be moved, not sorted by kind. There are other things that need to be done.”

Ten minutes before we’re officially open, our morning regulars saunter in. Time’s up. Even though products aren’t made or labeled or prepared, I smile and call out to my first customer of the day. Curtis goes straight to the delicious sweets and orders his usual. I hand him the cinnamon roll and ceramic mug. With a final pleasant greeting, he departs. I scramble for a new pair of gloves so I can cut and lean coffee cake pieces against each other.

“That will fall when someone removes a slice. Nobody is going to notice if only the crust is visible,” my manager comments.

“Not necessarily,” I reply. “I’m sure someone would notice that today’s presentation is lacking.”

I cover the coffee cake and return to my register as another customer approaches.

“I’ll have a dozen bagels, please,” the woman orders. Slipping on a new pair of gloves, I flip the switch to activate the bagel slicer expecting a whirring sound, instead it clunks and thuds to life producing an unnatural vibration. The line grows behind the woman while I gather her desired items. I package her order and around the counter I go to deliver the food.

Me versus a line of three hungry old people. To provide friendly service I rephrase and clarify then offer to carry the customer’s bakery items to their table.

The steady stream of people slow, so I gather the materials to make fruit cups. To ensure consistency I portion out the juicy cantaloupe and honeydew. The door squeaks and I discard my gloves, then ready a different pair to put on once the transaction is complete.

The timer for the soufflés beep just as I pluck the stems off the last four grapes. I carry the cups of fruit to the refrigerator then tend to the oven. A wave of warmth wraps around me when I open the oven.

“Hot soufflés,” I announce signaling that a fresh batch is ready. Emerging from behind the bread wall I place the egg-baked soufflés onto the hot plate before the eyes of famished customers. As the breakfast rush begins the only option is serve and personalize the “everyday oasis.”

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