Life as a Co-op baker

Wave goodbye to your social life


Life in retail isn’t fun. You spend hours completing mundane tasks, dealing with naggy managers and answering customers idiotic questions, all for a shit pay check at the end of it. But, working in a supermarket can be an eye opening experience, that makes the retail sector even more depressing. When i was 17, I got my first job, working in the Co-operative Food’s bakery. Yet, despite how i was surrounding by endless cookies and donuts all day long, it wasn’t as sweet as you would think.

IMG_5709I would have been perfect on tills, but no, they decided to make me a baker instead

When I applied to work at The Co-op, I expected to be near-suicidal on tills, hating my every customer that comes my way, but being paid a suitable wage for it. The wage stayed the same, but my ideal retail job became my retail job from hell. Let’s make this clear. I’m a small girl. Not even small. I’m tiny. At the time, I was a small 5″2, with absolute no upper body strength. Therefore, dealing with towers of boxes full of hefty bakery products and huge steam ovens was not exactly my forte. Plus, I can barely make a cake using ready mix. This was not going to go well.

Lucky for me, Co-Operative like to cut corners and make all their bakery products from frozen. So, really all I had to do was place the products on a tray, throw them in the oven, and ta-da. Technically i was a “cooker” not a “baker”. I worked in a bakery, but in my 12 months there, I didn’t bake one fucking thing.

The early mornings are an absolute bitch

When you’re 17 going on 18, all you dream of is getting wasted every weekend (whether it’s legal or not). I was immune to this glorious privilege. For the most part of my sixth form life I spent my weekends waking up before the crack of dawn. For some reason I am still trying to comprehend, Co-Operative Food likes to open their doors at 6am. God knows who on this earth is not only awake at this time on a weekend, but who actually wants to walk around a supermarket picking up some eggs, milk and cheese.

I would often glare at these people, as they slowly walked around the shop floor, thinking “You. You’re the reason I’m here. Why can’t you shop in the afternoon like a normal human being?!” As i spent my Saturday mornings cooking croissants and baguettes with my eyes heavy, trying not to fall asleep in the cookie mix, other teenagers my age were warm and cosy in their beds, probably awaiting the effects of their beautiful hangovers. But no, I had to deal with customers asking me “Are there any sausage rolls, love?”

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For some reason, I became the customers own personal chef 

What was really advantageous at working in the bakery, was that i was hidden away from customers on the shop floor. Customers, ideally, were not allowed to come anywhere near me…due to health and safety regulations. But of course, you get the odd plonker who decides to walk right into the bakery, shouting “When are the roast chickens going to be ready? It’s a Sunday. I need chicken!” What a psycho. Despite putting up endless signs, clearly saying ‘no entry’, customers will of course enter. Not did they come in invading my personal, bakery space – they started ordering food. Seems simple, but it was a cardinal sin.

My social life at work was diabolical

Because i was hidden away from the shop floor, laboring away it took me a while to get to know other colleagues. For a long time, people didn’t even realise i worked there. If I asked a staff member a question, they would often look me up and down, slightly confused and say “When did you start working here?”. I’ve been here 10 months, arsehole, but please let me politely introduce myself for the sixth time. I became the hermit of the Co-op, wasting away in my small little bakery. I couldn’t even get drunk on weekends to enhance my social life and remind myself that i had friends. I was a poor little soul.

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But of course there were good things. Co-op are a great company to work for and they were always nice to me, even when I sneaked a cheeky nibble of cookie when i knew no one was looking. There’s always perks of a job.