A day in the life of Neko-chan, United States citizen in California

Working Girl

I am your average working citizen. I work two part time jobs, in a daycare and in a grocery store bakery, trying to earn enough money to stay afloat in todays economy, saving up for a trip next year in the summer, and generally trying to survive. I do not drive, it's too expensive. Instead, I take the public transit (buses) or walk. I am also a part time student, and am considering a third part time job in a web design business.

I am a citizen of the United States, living my days (currently) in the posh wine country area of Northern California (probably a bad choice, as it's rather expensive to live here), and enjoying the warming weather.

This is (or rather, was) a day in my life.

4:20 am, Sunday May 11, 2008 ("Mother's Day")

The alarm goes off on my phone, waking me from a light sleep. I have gotten used to my early weekend shifts at the bakery, and my body knows that now, and knows when it's expected to wake. The alarm is the song All She Wants, the only one that doesn't scare me out of a sound sleep. I lay around till it's time to get up at 4:30, listening to the song. I tacked the extra ten minutes on to give me extra time to wake up, as I'm a slow mover in the morning.

It takes me an hour to get ready for work.

5:30 - 8:00am

I arrive at work, dropped off by my mother who so kindly gets up early with me on weekends to drive me, since the buses do not work that early (though I really think they should work 24-7). The sky is already lightening into the summer hours, even though it's only late spring (I am not used to it being May yet and it's the second week already; I've barely gotten used to it being April). But I do not have much time to look at the sky, even though I thought about taking a picture for my family, who would appreciate that kind of view.

I hurry into the market, to the back of the store through the swinging doors into the behind the scenes area, where all the employees came and went through. The produce guys are being loud and cheerful again; they always are, and one gives a mock zombie sound, moaning "Coffeeeeee," because they know that on the weekends, I am the provider of caffeine.

I smile and laugh softly. They are funny and I like them, because they are nice and always making a joke or laughing, or asking how I was. I clock in hurriedly at the time clock, sliding the card twice because the silly thing didn't read it the first time. I'm barely on time this morning, clocking in at 5:28 instead of 5:25, like I usually try to do. The extra few minutes gives me a little more breathing space.

I head back out the double doors to the corner of the store where the bakery is, near one of the two entrances. I eye the coffee carafe the night crew put out: Red Rooster again. It's usually the one I have to change when I make fresh stuff. I put my purse underneath the table, walk around to the back of the bakery, and turn the tall, man high oven on as I pass- just a flick of the wrist.

I check for racks. Racks are very important in my job, since I can't bake without the proper rack. The oven racks lock into the notches in the top of the oven, and when the door is swung closed, the rack is lifted off the floor of the oven and rotates as everything bakes. If there aren't the proper racks, it is not a good day. But all was in it's place, so I was happy.

Next was a trip to the walk in refrigerator at the back of the store, to retrieve that days rack of baking. I usually always bake eight flavors of scones, five kinds of puff pastry, five varieties of muffins, three pineapple upside down cakes in individual sizes, a coffee cake, and six different breads. This is the morning bake, and it generally takes till seven fifteen by the time all the breakfast pastries are out on their plates, and by eight of the clock, I have bagged and shelved up that days bread.

While the rack is doing it's main bake, which takes 35 minutes, I do other things around the bakery and coffee bar as well. I always check the schedule board to see who is working the shifts that day so I can give the neccessary calls if something came up, but that is usually rare. I also take any calls that come in, but those too are infrequent. Until 7:00am, that corner of the store is my own private territory for the most part, over which I reign with the strains of rock music on the early morning radio programs.

I usually start coffee first, since those take five minutes to brew, and I can do two at once on their nifty machine. Also, it keeps the complainers from whining too much about lack of caffeine. Even if I'm busy elsewhere, there's at least one pot of coffee that'll do. I also assemble the wheat grass machine, and rinse and install the espresso machine parts that had been soaking in Jo Glo overnight (Jo Glo is a kind of metal cleaner). I like using the espresso machine, it's fun to make all the drinks, and really not as hard as someone might think.

One of the last things I do before the timer on the oven goes off is prep the plates for serving. And by that time, the regular coffee bar people start arriving for their morning shift.

8:30am-2:00pm

After a short break to collect my thoughts and senses from the busy morning, and to eat something for breakfast (a tangerine), I grab a piece of paper and a pen and start my rounds. This starts the thinking part of my job, whereas the first part can be done happily on autopilot as I think about other things, since it is pretty basic once you get it.

Aside from doing the morning bake, I am in charge of restocking the two areas that the bakery has control of: the tables, and the Grab-n-Go case, as we call the refrigerated unit that contains our sliced cakes and other goods. I once considered this to be a superfluous part of my job, and never really wanted to do it (I had just wanted to bake) but I evenutally got used to it, and now enjoy it, now that I know what I am doing.

I take count of the stacks that need to be replenished, and since it's Mother's Day, everything gets stacked a little higher, because people buy more (or perhaps more people are buying the same amount). I note that the loaf cakes are extremely popular, and in the time between my leaving on Saturday and closing that had sold one stack of the butter vanilla cakes, and several of the other flavors. I write them down, and make note to bring the stacks back up to seven.

In the midst of this excercise, I happened to glance over at the coffee bar, and was entirely appalled: the breakfast pastry area (under the sneeze gaurd, the plasic thing that kept people from breathing all over the scones and muffins) it was a complete war zone. Apparently someone had attempted to grab a scone of three and had broken them. Crumbs of pulverized pastry lay scattered over the counter, and empty plates and greasy papers were in great evidence. And the coffee bar girls were completely ignoring the condition of their space. I was embarassed and ashamed.

I dropped what I was doing, after moving the piles about to make the table look fuller, and went behind the couner to grab a rag. I started snatching up plates and papers and rearranging things to look neat, while the new girl watched me. She was making garlic bread, but she was being awfully slow about it. I didn't say anything, just started sweeping up crumbs and wiping down the surfaces. At last, I had it clean and neat again, and was able to finish my counting and grab a cart to head to the freezer.

The freezer is quite possibly my favorite place to be. Despite being cold and icy, it is mostly quiet, and a bit of a work out as I have to lift and move many boxes and racks to get to the products I need. Being of a stoutish nature, I can last a bit longer in the cold than others would, so I often would be the only one in there for a half hour or more. I like to stock the cart up high so I could take less trips back and forth.

Round about 12:15 I realized that I had missed lunch, which for me is usually taken around ten or ten thirty in the morning. I was still in the middle of pricing products, but now that I was thinking about lunch I started feeling very hungry. By the time I did take my lunch, at 12:30, the lunch I had packed myself wasn't enough. I bought something from the deli to supplement the fruit and veggies and granola bar I had brought, and ate with gusto. By the time I finished at one, I was ready to surge the last hour of the day.

All in all it was a good day. I got off a 2:00pm, or a little past, after having completed my tasks. It was busy, but enjoyable, because I felt I had everything under control and handled nicely.

Not a bad day at all.

Comments 2 comments

SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 8 years ago from Southern California, USA

Very good hub Neko!


Constant Walker profile image

Constant Walker 8 years ago from Springfield, Oregon

Good stuff, Neko. Thank you for answering the request. I also worked on Mother's Day. It was crazy non-stop all day long and I got an extra hour in.

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