Now that my feet are taking me forward, I’m hoping the rest of my systems will catch up by the time I need them. I arrive at the bakery while it’s still dark outside.
“Hey, Rami!” a perky voice shouts as I walk in. “I got some coffee going already, how’s it going?”
Nice, I can go check out how the coffee is doing. That thing is kind of temperamental. Oh right, I should respond. Alright...how awake am I? Ok, uh...“Doing alright,” I say back. Two words is all I got for now, huh? Let me just...work on that coffee for now. We’ve found that the coffee maker also needs time to wake up. It tends to kind of slur the settings around for the first batch or two, then stabilizes during the day. Can’t afford to waste the coffee though, and I’m more of a drinker than anyone else here, so it falls to me to test it. Need to make sure that the temperature isn’t gonna give anyone third degree burns or concentrate the caffeine to something lethal. I take a specially insulated cup and pour a little bit. It’s a little more bitter than usual, a little cold actually, and more concentrated than usual. “Trying to make some cold brew, buddy?” I mumble out loud, absentmindedly. That’s not how you do that, I think as I shake my head. I pour some hot water in the batch to try and balance it out a bit. It’s not a big deal, it’s not what people come here for anyway.
“Mallorquería.” That’s the name of the bakery. Although most people call it “Mallorca’s” because that’s a mouthful. The place is known for its mallorca sandwiches, a fluffy sweet bread covered in powdered sugar, usually filled with ham and cheddar cheese. It’s kind of an odd thing to be known for, to be honest, but it works. The owner is pretty proud of that distinction too, if that isn’t already obvious. They’re nice to me and so is the rest of the staff, so it’s worked out alright so far.
The smell of freshly baked bread fills the air. It blends in with the sweetness of pastries and there just isn’t enough ventilation or enough money for air conditioning, so the heat of all those flavors just falls and sits there, drifting across the counters and tables there. The heat of the sun feels like an unwanted slap on the back from a person you’re forced to associate with, but the warmth of an oven - especially one that is baking something dear to you - is a bear hug that you appreciate for the first few moments, but then quietly wish they’d let go because you’re starting to have trouble breathing.
I go through the motions of making sure the fridge with all the drinks and such are stocked, the cash register is ready, and the counters are clean. I’ve had enough of the coffee now that I’m starting to feel more awake. I start to hum a little while I prep for the day ahead. “Hmmm hm hmmm, hmm hm hmmmm, hm hm hm hm hmmm,” I sing softly.
“I see you’re finally awake,” the voice says, finally.
I look at them quizzically.
“I know you’re up once you start to hum to yourself.”
“Oh. Uh yeah, I guess.” Sergio is an odd one. I’ve never figured out how they manage to run a bakery and also know their employees as well as they do. I can barely get through the day just trying to focus on my own job, let alone everyone else.
“¡José! ¿Cómo va el pan? How close are we to being ready for the breakfast rush?”
“¡Just about, jefe!” I hear from the back.
As I finish bussing the tables, I hear a ring of the bell, signaling our first customer of the day.