It was winter break of my sophomore year and my mother decided I needed a job. I ended up “interviewing” at Montilio’s Bakery and I use the word in its loosest possible sense. I wasn’t asked if I had any prior experience working in a bakery. I had not. I wasn’t asked if I knew how to operate a cash register. I did not. I also was not asked if I could make a cappuccino, decorate a cake, or identify the filling in a cannoli and I couldn’t do any of those things. Had he just taken a few moments to clear that up maybe he wouldn’t have gotten so mad when I told the customer that indeed yes, there probably should be foam on the cappuccino; I’m sorry that the fondant flowers on you grandmother’s birthday cake look like little pink turds; and that the cannoli were filled with frosting. What he did say was,

“You’re working New Year’s.”

That was his first mistake.

His second was not having enough milk on hand to accommodate the huge number of hot chocolate orders that he had to know were coming. Boston’s First Night celebration is a family affair after all and this was before there was a Starbucks on every corner. Never have I been yelled at so much by people I didn’t know for something I had nothing to do with. Needless to say I was relieved when he gave me a twenty dollar bill and told me to go to the Store 24 and buy all the milk I could.

In retrospect it was probably not a good idea to allow his employees to drink for free after things died down as way of showing his appreciation and it was definitely not a good idea on my part to feel appreciated. Really, really appreciated. I was so appreciative that I forgot to punch out and missed the last T home. But perhaps the thing I appreciated most was that when I showed up for work on that January 1st, only a handful of hours after having left and feeling like there was a Frenchman living in my head, was being fired.

Happy New Year!