I have applied for three pie baking jobs so far. No one is hiring. Or at least no one is hiring me. Granted, it must seem a little disjointed to a Portland pastry chef that a corporate trained media-savvy 40-something wants to bake pie. Then again, I offer an abundance of enthusiasm, a dearth of drama (I don’t do office politics), and, let’s face it, people -- I make really good pie!
But here’s the irony: What I do best is helping other people get jobs. Just today, after baking one large and two miniature blueberry pies my friend Ann stopped by and said her goal for the afternoon was to finish her cover letter and resume to apply for a job she really wants. I had already helped her with her first draft so I said, “Let’s just finish it right now.” I sat down at my computer, polished the letter, and sent her home with one of the baby pies.
No more than five minutes after Ann left, my neighbor Lisa stopped by with a copy of her resume in hand with an urgent need. “My application is due tomorrow,” she panted. We had met for coffee two weeks earlier when she said she was going to apply for a new position that would double her salary and being the anal-retentive copy editor I am, I offered to take a look at her resume. I had wondered what had happened with it. I sat down with a pen and a highlighter and reworked her whole page. She was so excited about the changes she practically ran home to make the revisions. But not before I presented her with the second of the baby blueberry pies.
With no more unexpected visitors knocking, I curled up into my overstuffed chair to finish the memoir I’ve been reading. It’s called “Confections of a Closet Master Baker “by Gesine Bullock-Prado (Bullock as in sister of Sandra), though it could have been titled “101 Reasons Not to Open a Bakery.” Her story is about leaving her life as an unhappy Hollywood producer to open a bakery in Vermont. She cites long hours, potential lawsuits, short-lived employees, complaining customers, and the downturn in the economy, to name a few, as the pitfalls of her new business. But her writing was so delicious, so creamy, buttery and sweet, at the very least it inspired me to make the blueberry pies earlier in the day.
Ann keeps harping on me to open my own pie shop, or at least rent a stand at the farmers’ market. Last week she prodded, “There’s a commercial kitchen for rent just down the hill from you.” That would be one way to “get a job.” Just start my own business. Sure. Easy as pie.
At the very least I am going to start promoting my pie party business. In fact, I had planned to spend today creating the marketing materials I need to get that moving forward and bringing in money. But it was much more fun to help my friends with their career pursuits -- and to send them home with pie in the process. I should heed the warning as this is exactly how Bullock-Prado describes the way she hung her own bakery shingle – she enjoyed baking for friends and colleagues more than doing the professional work she was paid big bucks to do. Maybe one day I will finally wake up and smell the blueberries, stop spinning my wheels with job applications where there are no jobs, and just go for it with my own pie shop. I know I would have at least two loyal customers.
But no more thoughts of work tonight, no more resumes to write. I am headed to the house of some friends to soak in their hot tub. And in exchange, I am bringing them the big blueberry pie. Who needs a job when you can barter!