Bakery Prison: A Memoir
by Panera Worker
Chapter One: 10 am.
Okay, more like 10:07 am, but who cares? I arrived to my 6 hour sentence in the Bakery Prison in despair. The 50 assorted pastries glared at me as I walked behind the counter. The sign in screen was so black, so desolate. I felt like I would never see my family or friends again. The imaginary gates closed in all directions around the bakery.
“Now you’re trapped!” cackled a middle aged white woman in an ugly floral blouse, “Get me my cherry danish.”
I was sluggish, as my lazy ass had only woken up moments before my sentence was to be served. I looked at my fellow inmate, the bakery opener, and complained that I was tired. She looked angry for some reason.“Bitch please” she muttered. Whatever. I half-heartedly grabbed a snarling cherry pastry from the shelf.
The pastry gave me the most menacing look. “Stupid bitch, she called me a cherry danish and you didn’t think to correct her? That’s not my fucking name. Watch your back.”
I held back tears as the pastries threw more insults my way. I then cringed as I realized I had forgotten to ask if the pastry was for here or to go. I felt the cold slap of Mother Bread’s hand on my face. “NO. SHORTCUTS.” she roared. I called out to the woman, but she was busy using a water cup to get Diet Pepsi.
There were no other guests in line so my mind ran with things to do. Everything looked stocked and clean. That was the hardest part of my time in Bakery Prison, keeping my mind occupied. I stared at the coffees. 33 minutes until I needed to brew one. Or was it 39 more minutes? The dishwasher’s handwriting was purposefully messy, as if she wanted you to fuck up on the times. I had already seen my fellow inmate sweep the floor at least five times.
Suddenly, my CO, sometimes referred to as a “manager” for some reason, came up to me, looking smug. “Time for your break” he barked. “But I just got here!” I protested. “Yeah, and my labors high. Now or never.”
At 10:30 I ate my half salad alone and in silence. The whispers from the bakery could be heard from where I sat amongst the free people. My side of baguette was clumsily cut from the retail table, cold and hard like my prison bound heart.