“M, you going with Diego today. Twists!”
Carlos was not the supervisor on duty today, Mr. Smiley was. The guys jostled each other and I had a nagging suspicion I was being “set up” for something. More importantly, if I wasn’t working in front of Carlos, he can’t assess my progress which also meant I would be taking a time out from the point system.
Diego and I prepped for twists. He showed me how to distinguish between the different types of dough which required different types of pans and set ups. We worked in the mixing room amongst the giant Hobart mixers with racks and racks of chilled dough.
“So….are you single?” Diego asked.
Ah. So THAT was the million dollar question. I was actually relieved there wasn’t a weird hazing ritual at X that all interns were subjected to. I concentrate heavily on my pan and laughed the question off. Who had time to date?
“Why do you work so much?”
Why, indeed, Diego. Million dollar question.
The conversation turned to family. He hasn’t seen his parents in 12 years. His 6 year old son has never spent time with grandma or grandpa. We talked about religion. Diego was spiritual but not religious. But tomorrow was the celebration for Our Virgin of Guadalupe, he said. He was contemplating going to church.
"Heeeeey...baby!" We were interrupted by Paco, who confirmed my “set up” theory by singing the refrain, “Mi Corazon” over and over for the next 2 hours. Paco was the kind of guy I steered clear of. He liked saying, "Heeeeey..baby!" to me. He did offer to make me a cup of coffee which I accepted in a peace gesture.
I was taught how to shape the twist dough, filling them with raisins and olives, before using a special dough cutter that resembled discs of steel mounted on a rolling pin to cut neat rolls of dough to be twisted by hand.
It was repetitious but I found it rather meditative. The twists wer arranged in 2 neat rows on sheet pans before being stored on a cart. I found lifting heavy pans above head was a little difficult. Diego did not help, neither did I expect him to. He knew I'd ask if I needed help.
The day ended uneventfully. As I entered the locker room, the man they called the Don (in a nod to his age seniority, he appeared in his late 60s), started the whole, "Heeeey,...baby!" thing. But how could you take him seriously? Or short, short Paco for that matter? They are the kind of people that you just want to hand a balloon and a candy bar to and send them on their merry way.
I zipped up my coat, gave a wave to the baguette night shift that was starting their day, and stepped out the back door, the screen door slamming behind me.