I must say that despite my sadness upon leaving Hillcrest, I haven’t actually really missed it. Until yesterday, when Mom went to Hillcrest to pick up a few items, and returned with a pumpkin loaf.
It was a beautiful pumpkin loaf.
High, but not too peaky.
I picked that loaf up and held it in my two hands and thought, “This is a pumpkin loaf. A pumpkin loaf that I did not bake.” I tried a piece and discovered that it tasted annoyingly good. Apparently, I’m not the only one in the world who knows how to make a good pumpkin loaf. And then I started thinking about the parts of Hillcrest that I liked… and the parts that I didn’t like… and the lessons that I learned… and all the songs that will always remind me of Hillcrest because I listened to them as I biked/walked through muggy summer mornings, chilly fall mornings, and blowy winter mornings. So here is a post about Hillcrest, divided into the categories that I mentioned in the previous sentence.
Things I liked about Hillcrest
- Florence. I liked Florence. Florence was the perfect mix of feminine and strong. She knew when to be serious and when to laugh and joke. Florence had a twinkle in her eyes. She really did. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anyone’s eyes twinkle like Florence’s eyes. Florence knows a lot about everything. Often I would say, “Florence, does this need more flour?” And she’d come and peer into my bowl and say, “A 3/4 cup.” So I’d add a three quarter cup, and it would turn out perfectly. Every time. Alma and Florence kept up with current events better than I ever did. Every Tuesday we’d talk about what was going in the world, and they always knew really random interesting things, and I just knew boring things.
- Alma is also something I miss about Hillcrest. She’s the nicest Markham ever, I think. She’s really pretty too, and has an awesome laugh, and one of the greatest senses of humor in the world. Also, she makes a mean batch of muffins. She can make 17 dozen at one time. If you’re a single thirty-something Markham guy who likes muffins, and you’re reading this… Alma is pretty awesome. I don’t know why you haven’t snatched her up yet.
- I liked baking. Which is odd, because I never liked baking before I worked at Hillcrest. But there is something very satisfying about mixing something up and baking it and seeing it turn out well. Except that it doesn’t always. On my very last day of work, I made a batch of carrot pineapple muffins, but didn’t put enough flour in them, I guess. So they all had significant dents in the center of them. These dents were so significant that Christine decided that the price should be reduced, and labeled them as “Carrot Pineapple muffins: not quite right”, as the explanation for the price reduction. I felt awful. And also like there surely must have been a more tactful way of saying that. Jasmine’s not quite right muffins. Yup. Those are my muffins. You know… the not quite right ones. I did learn much about baking at Hillcrest. And by the end it felt like I was actually doing pretty good, and it was fun. There’s not many things more rewarding than hearing a customer ooh and aah over the fresh, still warm pumpkin loaves that you hand them.
- I liked working with a variety of people. It was good for me.
- I liked getting donuts and long johns for customers. Except for the time I dropped a donut on the floor. That was embarrassing. And it was my neighbour that was standing there waiting for it. So yeah. I’ll never be allowed to forget that one. The donut kind of rolled on its side for a second before coming to halt. It was a bad feeling. He took it anyways though.
- I liked the summer afternoons when we ate outside on the picnic table and Alma and I would joke about getting a Sea Doo and spending our lunch break out on the Floradale Dam.
- I liked biking to and from work.
- I liked how it felt when we would finally finish all the dishes at the end of the day.
Things I didn’t like about Hillcrest
- Waking up at four in the morning. I didn’t mind it once I was up and awake and on my way to work. It was just that horrible feeling of jolting awake with my alarm and still feeling tired no matter how early I had gone to bed. The fact of the matter is that at four in the morning, you will just never feel ready to jump out of bed. People were not meant to be awake that early. I do not miss waking up that early at all. I miss the feeling of accomplishment that came from getting up that early (cause you can get a lot of work done when your day starts that early!). It was good for me to do it for 11 months, but I’m glad I don’t have to do it anymore. Although I do still wake up with a jolt at 5 nearly every single morning, and practically have a heart attack when I look at my phone and see what time it is, because I’m positive that I should be work. It always takes a second for me to realize that I can sleep for several more hours yet. What a wonderful feeling that is. The relief that comes from being able to go back to sleep makes the jolt and the racing heartbeat worth it. Also, I have sincerely enjoyed feeling awake and energetic in the evenings. It’s incredible. I just feel so awake all the time. Which is great, because for the pasat two weeks or so, I have had places that I needed to be every single evening. Kenton and I have been squeezing jogging into the spaces in our days, and that feels good. It’s pretty cool how your body can adapt to physical stress, and how soon, what you first felt was killing you, becomes just a bit easier.
I was even able to get a dress sewn. Isn’t that great? (I won’t tell you when I started this dress. Okay. Fine. I started it at Easter time. Disgraceful, I know.) But I have had the weirdest dreams since I finished at Hillcrest. Like so weird. I woke up in the middle of the night last night and felt like I was on this huge adrenaline rush or something, because I was dreaming that I was this amusement park, and the rides…. they just felt so real. And then I fell back asleep and dreamt that I was in this group that solves mysteries (ahem- much like Mystery Inc. from Scooby Doo) and we were in these woods (which looked oddly like where Kenton and I jog) and there was this watery path, and we were walking down this path, and the water kept getting deeper and deeper, until we were completely under it… and guess what? There was a whole world down there! And it was run by bad guys… and I needed to keep them from finding out that I was on to them, so I did all kinds of really awful things to convince them that I was harmless. I woke up, and honestly felt ashamed of myself for my own deceptiveness and manipulation. I had no clue that I could even be like that. But yeah- basically, these dreams, for the most part, are full of action and guns and really intricate schemes and plots. I don’t know how I come up with this stuff, but it kind of amazes me. I just wish that I could think like that when I am awake. In real life, I am never that logical, quick-thinking, or quick on my feet. It would have been so helpful in grade 11 when I was writing my adventure novel. Anyways. You don`t need to know all about my dreams.
- I didn’t like when they all chattered away in their own language. In fact, I thought it was plain old rude. Florence apologized to me one time for it, and justified it by saying that “For years, it’s all we ever talked to eachother, and it’s just what comes naturally to us.” Which makes sense. It really does. So basically, I bounced back and forth between feeling like it was rude and being okay with it. Depended on the day.
- I didn’t like that one of the workers hardly spoke English. It caused a lot of miscommunication and unnecessary mistakes. Also, it meant that she couldn’t read recipes, or anything like that, which meant that she got to do all the simple, “mindless” jobs (ahem- the jobs I liked to do sometimes too!), while I had to do all the actual mixing and baking. On the other hand… she was really nice. And she had a great smile. If you don’t speak the language that all the other workers you do, you better at least have a nice smile going for you. And we laughed together sometimes. And she was learning English. It was just kind of annoying sometimes. But I really did like her. And her home life isn’t the greatest, so it was really nice of them to hire her. I guess I just never quite figured out what my feelings were about this… like is it okay to hire a worker that hinders the work of the other workers? When I think about it that way, I’m like “No. It’s not fair to hire a person who can’t even speak or read English.” But when I considered it from a different perspective (perhaps a more Godly perspective) and thought about how her parents both died before she was 14, and she lives with her sisters and their husbands and their many, many children… it seemed a little bit different then.
- I didn’t like Tuesdays and Thursdays, which were exactly the same every single week. We always filled a giant order of hamburger buns, hot dog buns, and bread…. and when I say giant… I mean giant. Sometimes we would roll out 300 dozen hamburger buns in a day… by hand. That was always fun. There wasn’t really anything awful about it… It was just kind of mind-numbingly repetitive.
- I didn’t like never knowing what time I was going to get home. Some days we’d be finished before lunch or soon after it… and other days, it would be four o’clock and we hadn’t even started the dishes yet.
Lessons I Learned at Hillcrest
- Wear the right shoes. If that happens to be a lime green pair of crocs that you’ve had since grade 9… I don’t care. Wear them.
- Aprons are wonderful. I will probably never be able to bake without wearing an apron now.
- Working is good. Getting up at 4:15 in the morning is good. You learn things. You experience a different view of everything. You get to see the world wake up. Dark does not have to be scary. I have a huge imagination… I really do. Every single morning, I would freak myself out while I was unlocking the door to the bakery because I thought about how awful it would be to have a murderer chasing you, and be at the door, with the key, trying to unlock it, but just not being able to get the key in because your hands are shaking in fear. Wouldn’t that be awful? But your imagination is only as powerful as you let it be. I learned (at least a bit) how to control my imagination.
- A job is all about serving other people… don’t go into it trying to see how little work you can get away with. Do as much as you can to make other people’s jobs easier too. Old Orders have an incredible perspective when it comes to work. Work is just what they do. It’s not something to be dreaded or avoided or complained about. It’s just the way they live. And because they don’t view it as a bad thing, and no task is too big (not even making 100 cherry pies), they do it happily and if you’re working with them… you better do it cheerfully as well. And it’s actually a lot easier to work without complaining (even mentally!) when you’re working with others who aren’t complaining. Work can actually be- dare I say it- a lot of fun. I learned a lot from working with those ladies. I realized a lot of the time, the reason I dreaded certain jobs at work was because I felt like I didn’t have energy to do them. And why didn’t I have energy? Because I hadn’t gone to bed early enough. Yup. Sleep is so important.
- Old orders don’t go on honeymoons. They just get married! How boring is that??
- Even if your job isn’t you… it can become you. It`s incredible how something just becomes part of you, and stepping away from it… choosing to leave it becomes a painful thing, because suddenly, this thing that you thought you would never be able to like but ended up loving, became engrained in you, and you feel like you wouldn’t know yourself without it. I would get home last summer and breathe a sigh of relief when I got into my room and it smelled familiar and I could wear my clothes again and wash the flour and oil away and do what I liked to do and talk to or hang out with people that I love who could make me feel like myself. Because at work, I didn’t feel like myself. It felt like I was two completely different people, and it took a very long time for the two to blend. I’m scared it will be like that all over again.
- Realize that you probably do things that annoy people. Much like they do things that annoy you.
- I think I learned to love Floradale. Biking home was always great. Especially when it started to be nice outside and people would work in their flowerbeds, and Terry`s garage would always have music blaring from it with the doors wide open…
- It’s not really fair to your employer or the other employees to take your job lightly… or leave the job three months after starting it. I think (if it’s at all possible), it should be more a commitment than that. Now, I understand that circumstances may interfere, and make that impossible, but don’t go into a job planning to only be there for three or four months. Florence compared Hillcrest to a foster care system, simply because of the number of workers who passed through. Even in my 11 measly months of being there, I saw four workers leave and be replaced. I felt bad when I left, because I know that it takes awhile to train workers. But I was there longer than most of the other workers, I guess. One time, they had trouble hiring someone to replace a worker who had left. And they had someone lined up awhile before that worker left… but then she got pregnant. So she couldn’t work. And then, they found someone to replace that one. But then that one found out she was pregnant too. And one time, in a period of five years, they had four workers quite working because they were getting married. They all married widowers. Isn’t that crazy? So yeah… when it rains at Hillcrest, it pours.
Songs that Will Forever Make Me Feel As Though I am Biking to Hillcrest
These are songs that for some reason, I would choose out of all the others as my “on my way to work” music. I can’t really explain why I chose these particular songs.
- Titanium- David Guetta and Sia
- I Won’t Give Up- Jason Mraz
- Grace- Laura Story
- Drops of Jupiter- Train
- So Close to You- Calvin Harris
- His Kind of Love- Group One Crew
- And my all-time favourite song to listen to as I biked to work last summer… “Don’t You Worry, Child” by Swedish House Mafia. Not a Christian song, but to a very tired girl who felt like all she did all day long was make mistakes and wasn’t at all sure that she was in the right place, the lyrics “My father said, ‘Don’t you worry, don’t you worry, child. See heaven’s got a plan for you. Don’t you worry, don’t you worry now…’” felt pretty comforting.
So there you have it.
Everything you could possibly have ever wanted to know about Hillcrest. You’re welcome.