I’ve written very little lately and the reason is Tim Horton’s. I was hired as a ‘baker’ recently and that has taken up a lot of my attention. It’s been an exhausting adjustment for a variety of reasons. I’ve had bad experiences working in kitchens in the past and this is the first real job I’ve ever had, meaning I didn’t get it through a family member. It’s also the first job of any sort that I’ve had in two years as most of my recent life was dominated by being a full time student.
But the main mechanic in this attention-hijacking operation was an identity crisis. I have been a student all of my life. Even now that I’m not a student, I am still a student. I might not have any classes or exams but I still read and think like mad. I read philosophy, poetry, religion, languages, and all sorts of other academic things. Most of my friends have been like-minded.
In university, I developed something resembling a fashion sense and I started dressing based on how I wanted others to perceive me. I learned to pride myself as a fanciful speaker. Then came Tim Horton’s which is the opposite of all that. You don’t think about about poetic devices of medieval drama when you’re in Tim Horton’s, you think about donuts. You don’t dress like the artistic flower you are, you dress like a Tim Horton’s ‘baker’. You don’t speak fancifully, cleverly, or subtly. You speak as darn fast as you can cuz the angry family with the crying kids wants their donuts and they want them now!
Some realizations followed. I don’t know how to not think about arts or literature or all the other things I brag about. I find it quite distressing to not think about those things! I find it quite distressing to wear the Tim Horton’s name with oppressive possessive “S”! And I can’t speak quickly! I don’t want to say “We’re out of apple fritters.” I want to say “Lo, fair ‘bakers’, how ironic be the show case’s name for it has none to show in the way of apple fritters.” or perhaps “The apply fritter basket is as empty as Jesus’ tomb, Hallelujah, AMEN!”
Actually, we don’t even say “We are out of apple fritters.” We say “wur owda-ablfrdrz.” This lack of elocution offends my inner theatre major. This job is – in its mechanics, atmosphere, and linguistic landscape – completely unlike anything I’ve been a part of before.
Oh, yeah, why do I keep putting quotation marks around “baker”? Because we don’t do any baking! Baking is an art! Baking starts with flour and water and big boxes of shortening that you squish your hand into. The final product is an expression of the one who made it. Tim Horton’s ‘baking’ involves putting pre-made, pre-packaged baked goods into an oven to warm up and then throwing them to the crying family that’s grumbling in a language I don’t know because the ‘bakers’ only made 100 vanilla dips when they should have made a 101st for poor little Ahmed (and Ahmed loves the sprinkles)!
So, I’m out of touch with the rest of the world, I’m out of touch with myself, Tim Horton’s is out of touch with what constitutes “Baking,” and the only reason I’m still working here is because I can use the money to buy books to learn Arabic.
And then I’ll know what little Ahmed is crying about. We will have come full circle. Until then, expect lots more blog posts because writing keeps me sane!
Edit: It doesn’t have to be Ahmed. It can be a Francoise, or… a common Indian name. Or it could be my colleague asking for the aforementioned ablfrdrz. No one there speaks a language I understand.