The facility is busy these days; we rent commissary space and on some days there are as many as two dozen people moving quickly and purposefully about the bakery’s bright green floor.  The almond milk makers trundle past with their pallets of bottles, dates and almonds.  The bakers roll out double rack after double rack of fragrant cookies: peanut butter, snickerdoodle, Nutella chocolate chip, butterscotch oatmeal raisin.

hansel and gretel

Indiana University Dorm Room

Everywhere you look there are ordinary items rendered Willy Wonka-ishly peculiar by their commercial outsizedness:  huge hundred gallon red plastic trash cans filled with cold coffee, three foot tall whisks, mixing bowls large enough to bathe triplets in, and ovens as large as some dorm rooms I’ve shared.

Even the cookies, baked for a well known local company, are bigger than my face.

 

mariachi

Ai caramba

The convection fans emit a soft roar; the oven racks squeak and squeal as they rotate. The wind rattles restlessly at the metal garage doors, the drone of the dishwasher with it’s telltale waterfall whoosh signaling the end of another cycle is a constant undercurrent. And weaving through it all, the radio stations and itunes playlist of the three separate work teams: mariachi and Latino pop, NPR podcasts, hits of the 80s.

steampunk

Ready to bake

Huge machinery, oversized food, workers in  white coats, hair and beard nets bustling about in hectic industry, a soundtrack that includes snatches of country western, Mexican rap and and Donald Trump shouting Win!, …it’s like a steampunk vision of life, if Keebler Elves invented steampunk.

Whenever a podcast about Trump comes on, the bakers begin denouncing him vociferously and with high good humor.

He’s going to round us up into camps! yells Tall Baker Girl, laughing (but it is  serious-faced laugh).

No no no!, says Short Baker Girl,  ‘cuz you look white. But me, oy, my whole family wouldwoman sugar skull facesbe kicked ooooouut!”  She pounds the cookie dough,  her arms sleek with muscles and tattoos.  The dough warms under sunlight streaming from overhead roof windows.   In the natural light Short Baker Girl  has an almost otherworldly glowing bronze complexion like I imagine Egyptian princesses did, and a braid of hair so lushly thick I find myself trying to sneakily touch it when she’s not looking.

trojan horseThe joke that only immigrants will take the job of Mrs. Trump is repeated many times (and did, we wonder hilariously, they all have exceptionally dainty hands?) .  We laugh loudly at the impossibility of a Trump presidency, and if there is a note of incredulity or uneasiness in the laughter, it is lost under the thumping grinding music of the vast machinery all around us.

 

 

 

 

3 thoughts on “Working Equation: An Arithmetic of Sounds, a Subtraction of Smells

  1. Reblogged this on reliablyuncomfortable and commented:

    The huge ovens and mixing bowls, all around the sounds of Mexican rap and and Donald Trump shouting Win!, the improbably bright green floor and the oddly domestic smell of baking butter and sugar underlying all …life at the bakery is like a steampunnk vision – if Keebler Elves invented steampunk.

    Like

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