Saturday, August 13, 2011

You Love a Man in a Uniform....

Before you get to be the King of Turd Island, they start you off as the Prince of Turd Island.

I think Klecko's greatest memory while holding that youthful position, was the first arbitrary decision he made.

Everybody in the shop was going to wear brand new uniforms.

We were at the West 7th Location back in those days, 4 tin walls on a concrete slab, and if you rated our professionalism on a scale of 1 to would have read "OUCH."

That's right, we were a rag tag unit, and truth be told....I was the greatest sinner of them all.

Back in those days, I wore sleeveless V-neck T-shirt's, Red Wing work boots and a pair of plastic shorts that Sue McGleno bought off the dollar rack as a joke.

In addition to being plastic, these shorts had modest Hula Girls which were strategically positioned to look like they were resting on the outsides of my thighs.

Each night / morning, when my shift ended, I'd take those shorts into the alley, turn on the hose, rinse-lather and repeat the process.

When Autumn rolled around I was given the title of "Production Manager", and that's when I decided to strut my swag.

During my first shift wearing the "Princes" crown, I called G&K uniforms and had them send out an area rep.

When people dress in a uniform, you'd be staggered by how much more their production will increase. Most people really do feel proud to be on a team. The key however is to give them a uniform that accentuates their skill set, not mock it.

I've never gotten how anybody could step into a McDonald's and take themselves serious. I'm not gonna be a hater and drop all that "Super Size" doctrine on you.

Go their fries everyday for a month, I can't say I blame you. Very few sins give me the abject delight that a large red cardboard container of deep fried potatoes does.

But their uniforms......

It's like they purposely want their employees to feel an element of shame, if not, why would they clad them in apparel that appears to have come from some kind of clowns consignment boutique?

When the G&K rep came, he had catalog upon catalog, and many of them were dog eared to pages of outfits that he best felt would represent the spirit of my crew.

When I looked at them, I didn't want to be rude, but much of what he was throwing at us was "dainty"......checkered pants, coats with fancy cloth buttons.

But the worst mistake he made was to call me "Chef" in front of my crew.

You'll never know how common this is, and I do have mad love for many chefs, but I am a baker.

So now the crew begins hissing and jeering and the guy recoils in fear. I toss the well meaning coot a red carpet of retreat by pointing out our uniform shirt i might be interested in.

I selected white shirts, with dish washer snap buttons.

Some might think I chose this to be thrifty, but that had nothing to do with it.

I wanted our main garment to strangle us with humility.

There is nothing uglier in God's world than a Food Service Worker that thinks they merit gold tassels and bronze epaulets.

Well with my staff, I wanted to allot the largest portion of our uniform budget into out hats.

We weren't going to wear those crude paper hats.

I didn't like the idea of matching white baseball caps with the companies logo stitched on.

What I wanted more than anything was the floppy cloth Chey Boy R Dee hat.

When we matched them to the shirt......dude, we were fashion forward.

So now the sales rep guy automatically turns his catalog to pants, and in the section he was thumbing through, there was like 192 straight pages of white pants.

My crew howled.

Sure this "was" traditional in commercial baking from the book of Genesis until 1995, but at that point the commercial baker resented looking like the Ice Cream Man.

So w/o getting too weird, my posse collectively chose navy blue shorts.

Ownership was kinda pissed, for awhile at least.

They thought that we should have gone the more traditional route and worn all white, but I mentioned that we didn't want to look like something that lurked in a retro snow globe.

So there you have it, we all had new threads, we looked good, we worked hard, and we made money.

3 or 4 years later, our business had outgrown the bakery. So when we moved, one of the things on the "To Do" list was to check with reps from numerous uniform company's.

I contacted 5 or 6, and within days, every one of them gave us bids and engaged me with such excitement that spittle would form in the corners of their collective mouths.

Well I take that back, not all of them jumped through hoops, our purveyor at the time (G&K) never got back to me.

I was a little annoyed. I was never crazy about our sales rep, but you can't judge an entire company by one employee.

So I called the HQ, left a message with some talking head.....but "no go", nobody wanted to dance with Klecko.

Ironically, when our bakery moved to it's new neighborhood, an artful industrial area, guess who my new neighbor was?

Guess who sent out a billion route trucks on the same street as my delivery fleet?

Uh Huh......G&K.

Isn't it funny how on the first Monday that a Ameripride delivery truck parked in my lot that all of a sudden my new neighbors kinda went spastic? LOL

I don't know, I guess it would be like Pepsi servicing the break room at Coca Cola Bottling, but I gotta tell ya, it kinda got weird.

During my first year at the new place, they contacted me 1/2 dozen times, begging-begging-begging for the biz back, but I told them you have to be careful when dissing a Pollack, we remember longer than elephants.

5 weeks pass, and then some Heidi Klum looking super model chick bangs on my production office door. I can see her angelic face through the glass. The oven guy was in such disbelief I think he may have soiled himself.

So I asked my newest friend to what I owed this fateful visit, but she remained aloof. She started rattling off stats about me and all my dogs. She swore to forfeit her life for Chihuahua's if necessary, and then she went on to tell me that she was rededicating her life to the Jack Russell nation.

LOL, within the first 5 minutes she mentioned a dozen things that I was ultra passionate about.

Most people would immediately demand to know who the person was or the pretense of their visit, but Klecko doesn't work like that.

Just ask Sue McGleno about the time we went to Vegas and a smoking hot chick came up and started a discussion. Sue McGleno kept giving me the evil eye, and I couldn't figure out why she was being rude.

When that conversation had its first awkward pause, the hot Vegas chick matter of factly mentioned that she specialized in couples, packages started at around a grand.

It may be the only time I blushed.

When I asked Sue McGleno if she knew the chick was a pro....she just shook her head and told me I was a child.

So anyway, the chick in my work office gets on the topic of Little League, and now I had just had enough. I cut her off mid sentence and said.....

"I am prepared to divorce for you, but who are you?"

It was at this point she revealed she was a sales rep for G&K.

I ushered her out without saying a single word.

I would be thrilled to hear about your guys experiences with uniforms......

Is it fashion before function?

Has anybody forced you to dress as a lobster or mermaid?

Inquiring mind want to know.


  1. man. uniforms have been really difficult lately. It appears that each time we get a drop off, the entire crew on the line goes and swipes two or three shirts each, hiding them in their lockers, leaving none for the rest of us.
    You can often times catch me wearing a chocolate soiled shirt. I too am not comfortable with the "chef" title I was called a few times. But let's say I DO have some pride, I definitely desire a clean work shirt at least a couple times a week.

  2. I hear you Sophia, but ours have cans (nametags) so it is easy to see if somebody is wearing yours, but, you can't put it past people to wear your stuff on your day off.

    Chef....please - lol

  3. My two favorite lines: "There is nothing uglier in God's world than a Food Service Worker that thinks they merit gold tassels and bronze epaulets." OH that had me laughing!

    and the second:
    "It was at this point she revealed she was a sales rep for G&K. I ushered her out without saying a single word."

    And this, my dear Baker Friend, is why we love you. :)