First Of The Gang To Fly
Stumbling to the bread factory on a brisk New Year’s Day morning, I hear a faint screech off in the distance, a familiar, welcoming sound. One that starts to brighten my alcohol dampened brain after a wonderful evening spent with family and cousin Trish, who livened the evening with more wine and tales of life on the other side. I don’t get to see the other side of the family often with this bakery schedule, so her appearance made it a truly magical evening. Pastry Monkey was calling for me from outside the rear entrance of the factory, her shift over early due to holiday scheduling. We chatted, stories of the evening delighting and providing a humorous start to the morning. My mood swiftly turned dour on the news from Olive’s lips as she arrived just seconds ago to join us.
“Today is my last day SOURDough!”
Six words that intensified my already heavy hangover on this cold bright morning. This was not necessarily shocking news, as this exodus (or escape) from the bread factory had been in the works for sometime now. But the finality of the moment, the current state of our friendship venturing into a smaller daily dose of everyday life. This is the lifestyle of the food service professional, a nomadic quest to find knowledge and betterment with each new establishment, your temporary home. The personal friendships and relationships built during these moments are unfortunately brief, but the good ones last forever. The first member of Team SOURDough was ready to go.
Olive is not the only member to depart so soon, Pastry Monkey is days away from her last shift at the factory and last days in this country for quite sometime. She will be returning to her homeland, as a bit of a reboot for her own soul. The sins of carelessness and lack of passion in those surrounding her have worn her a bit thin, her nerves taught as frayed piano wire, the tension ready to snap and lash out at any in her path, causing considerable damage. Monkey truly loves her craft, and doesn’t want to lose that desire in this environment. The best respite for Monkey will be the moment she steps off the plane into the loving embrace of her family, the ills of bad bread production thousands of miles away mentally and physically. For the moment, she will have peace.
The day continued on like any normal Sunday. The B-Team sauntered in late as usual, much to the disgust of supervisor Newman. He is a gentle soul, an older Colombian gentlemen who has been neutered by his religion. He refuses to take Frijoles to task for his hour and a half lateness on this day, and lackadaisical effort. Frijoles spending half the day socializing with Michael and battling his own wicked hangover. I spend the rest of the day fighting through my own hangover and capture a fleeting glimpse of Olive from time to time. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve put a premium of enjoying the company of intelligent people, and Olive and Monkey were right at the top of the list. I relived the fun moments, Olive’s occasional Tourette’s like outbursts and R-rated stories from her former career as an investigator. Her constant yearning for sweets, and occasional impromptu dance moves as she sought to bring laughter to the often somber factory environment. Personality is not the easiest thing to replace.
As the day ended, we congregated in the locker room for our final goodbye, hugs and kisses in abundance filling those last moments. Olive is moving on to a new restaurant to run the bread kitchen, the excitement and anxiety tempering her enthusiasm, a great challenge lying ahead. She will be able to be her her own boss (to a point), and start a kitchen with all the pride and professionalism that she displayed at the factory everyday, something that was sorely needed around here. Monkey is heading home to family, and unsure of the future, but needing to remedy the present. Passion is the greatest fuel for success, and both of these ladies have it in abundance. For now, this chapter of our story together is over, and the factory becomes a less tolerable existence. SOURDough is moving ever closer to the door.