Was it the early 80's when I was running that Custom Bread shop?Back then, everybody who was on my crew was either alcoholic or fueled by crank. You'll never imagine the delight I experienced when this Howdy Doody red head strolled into the bakery.
His name was Pirk, and he talked with a drawl, but it wasn't a cool Texas drawl, it was more hillbilly, like as if he grew up at the foot of the Appalachian mountains. To this day I don't know how he heard about us, but Pirk was a seminary student at North Central Bible college, and he was looking to pick up some evening hours.
I've always been on the Jesus team, so you just can't realize how excited I was.
On the first night that Pirk worked he mentioned that with his first paycheck he wanted to buy his wife something really special for her birthday. As we egg washed and scored dinner rolls I threw suggestions out to him........
Boom Box -
But Pirk just stood their with his trademark Opee Taylor grin "Nahhhh, I just think I'll get her a pill box!"
I waited for the punch line, but he was dead serious, and I guess that might be a nice gift if you were old and spent free time at the Walgreen's pharmacy, but dude......we were like 20-24 years old.
Through our work shift we often quizzed each other on Bible verses and reminisced about classic Ben Hur scenes. I'll never forget when one of the bench hands named Pee Wee chimed in........
"Did you guys know that the dude who played Masala told the cast members that he was going to play his role all homo erotic, and act like he wanted to be Ben Hur's beeoch? But, nobody was to tell Heston this cuz he would go all Right Wing on somebody and kick their a**!"
These kind of comments got Pirk really dislodged,and the more angry he became...the brighter pink his skin would become. On several occasions I tried to explain it was nothing short of death to be so reactionary in a bake shop. If you expose your weakness to the mob, they'll crucify you with glee.
I mean it was to the point that if the crew had the stereo on (which was pretty much constant) certain songs pushed Pirk into the abyss. AC / DC's - Highway to Hell and the Rolling Stones - Sympathy for the Devil would actually be enough to force him out of the building. Eventually I'd have to go and find him, and he would be languishing all stretched on in our neighbor Myrtles yards. He looked like one of the Old Testament prophet's that rolled on the ground yelling at God and the demons.
Remember though....as much as I liked Pirk, I was in charge, and things finally got to a point where other bakers would go out and roll in Myrtles yard as well. I'd go go to assess the situation and Grap would say "I have an aversion to Billy Joel" or Schmidt would mention his Jewish roots and run outside with a pack of cigarettes every time Kraftwerk's Autobahn came on, and how long was that song, like 24 minutes?
Well.... we did have a pow-wow and I mentioned that we really needed to separate church and state in the production area, and Pirk was a good guy so I figured he'd get a grip on his reactionary demeanor, but.....and you knew there would be a but here didn't you?
One of our casino accounts had a special Kaiser Roll order for Huey Lewis and the News who were playing the following day.
When you prepare to make Kaisers you hold a special metal stamp in your hand that is shaped like a 5 pronged star. then you dip it in canola, slam the stamp into 4 pieces, redip and continue the process. When all these 3 ounce pieces are stamped......then you proceed to egg wash them and top them with fresh onion, sesame seeds or poppy seeds.
If I recall the order was for 50-60 dozen and Pirk was in charge of of the Kaiser prep, so just when he started the stamping, the dough mixer guy (a coke head named J.D.) started arguing with Pirk why he thought abortion should be legal. within seconds Pirk shot out of his skin.
J.D. was a pot stirrer, he'd pose thoughts and ideas that would piss people off and then he'd attach his most efficient poker face, drop another bomb, and then go back to his mixer.
"You know Pirk. I got 3 kids already with my girlfriend, so when that bi*** got pregnant again, I told her we couldn't afford it, so we just aborted its baby a**!
Don't you think that's more responsible than keeping some kid around that I can't afford to take care of?"
BOOM....Pirk was out the door and on his way to Myrtles yard again, as I crossed the shop J.D. threw his hands in the air like a robbery victim and exclaimed "I know - I know, I'll shut up, I was just trying to pass a little time."
When I got to Pirk, he was dug in like a tick coated with super glue. I told him that Huey Lewis would really be pissed if we over proofed his Kaizer buns, and Pirk did get up, but tears were streaming down his face now and began pleading to me.....
"I have to listen to these inconsiderate people spewing their sinful nature at me, mocking me every moment, and the second I make a stand for Christ, I'm the one who get's admonished, not the baby killer in there. I demand that you use your authority to bring justice into our workplace!"
I cant remember being in such a surreal situation, I loved Pirk - I loved Jesus, but when I was at work, I really felt my job was to honor my employer. Pirk might of had a case if he exercised prudent judgment and made himself wiser than the serpent, but he didn't, to my dismay he put a bulls-eye on his ego instead. And maybe the thing that he didn't realize more than anything else was......he was working in a bakery. These guys didn't hate him, they were just dysfunctional people who engaged in immature ribbing to break the monotony of a life that is usually attached to a person who is void of opportunity or confidence.
Pirk thought I totally Judased him, I know he wanted me to be like Moses running to Aaron s side when the Israelite's concocted their golden calf, but you'll hear me say it over and over.
I get paid to make the company money, and when the boss man comes in the next day he just doesn't want to hear that God-Jesus-Satan or Paris Hilton cost us money. If that does occur only one thing happens....Danny Klecko gets held accountable.
In the aftermath one learning lesson did occur. During Pirk's raging experience that evening, he messed up his topping counts, so at 3 a.m. when the packers realized this...they called me up and I had to get dressed and go back to the shop and had to remake much of the order and didn't get out until 7 a.m.
In other words a 16 hour shift. I didn't say anything because I was really pissed and figured if the topic was revisited.....I'd probably slug somebody. Somebody must have enlightened Pirk how I spent these additional hours though because he came up to me and offered to resign and apologized for his unprofessional behavior.
I told him he was forgiven and I really hoped he'd stay, but just not be such a freak. Pirk stuck around for another year or so and was never attached to another zealot like incident.
I hope Huey Lewis & the News choked on those Kaisers!