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Years ago I left my job at a flower shop to work in a bakery. I didn’t know much about it except that my friends from high school worked there so it was probably a nice place to be. I worked there for a couple of years during college, enjoying making giant pots of soup while singing along to Disney songs on Tuesdays and there were many visits from friends on Saturdays. They did their homework while I fed them pastries and folded pink boxes. It was a nice rhythm and I got to know many of the patrons through those years. I left the bakery when I left for Rwanda, knowing that my senior year was going to be packed full of classes and coordinating the campus worship service. I still visited and worked on Christmas Eve, but I moved on to my job at PATH and, barely realizing it at the time, always longed to be back in that bakery. The opportunity to go back was clear when PATH lost funding and I needed a bit of spending money between that and going on tour with Friends and Family. That was January of 2014.
A year and a half after starting my “very-part-time-in-between-job” I am managing Nielsen’s Pastries and my heart is very invested in this charming little business. I work full time (something I said I never wanted to do because it would make me too tired and a terrible person) serving pastries, making coffee, building lunch menus and having wonderful conversations with our unbelievably delightful customers. Many people ask me what I’m planning on doing next in my life, but the answer is that I’m doing everything I want to be doing right now. I wake up in the morning at 5:30 happy that I get to go to work, eat pastries, make coffee for people I love and get paid to do it…how many people get to say that about their jobs? I think that in my culture and especially my generation in my culture, it is unnatural to stay at a job for more than a year. I think it is also common to stay in a job like mine simply because you are scared to take a next step. But what about those of us who stay in one place because we genuinely feel like we can make a difference simply by staying in one place?
Customers come and go. They get promotions, get married, have knee surgery, have babies, change location, pass away. The reasons are endless, but I’m there almost everyday and I see it all. I know when their children have colds, when their parents have terminal illnesses, if their son is coming home for the summer, their dietary restrictions or how many shots of espresso they had in a day (and how that relates to the kind of day they are having). By knowing all of this, I find myself connected to these wonderful people in a way I otherwise wouldn’t. I now know a real life Rosie the Riveter, pit orchestra musicians for the Pacific Northwest Ballet, the director of the Seattle Children’s Theatre, and an astronomer. I also have a 70 year old pen pal who lives in Colorado. These all come from day to day interactions, but interactions where we’re both invested. I want to know what they do and they want to tell me. I recently had a conversation with a man who was born in Iran, worked for the World Health Organization and now Johns Hopkins. He spent time in Rwanda and so did I…he naturally asked how I ended up in the Danish bakery. The answer is simple: I’m not made to be in an office and I can’t think of anything I’d like to do more than create a comfortable space for people to spend time in. Getting to know them all is an added bonus!
I am hoping to write more about the lovely people and experiences I have at Nielsen’s because I think they are things you will enjoy reading about. There are tiny little moments that I encounter each day that fill my heart to the brim and I don’t want to hold those feelings hostage anymore – I want to share them with you! Nielsen’s has been and will continue to be a very important place for me, so please come visit and share in the love. If you are far away, at least read about the beauty that is the quaint Danish bakery in lower Queen Anne. Above all, never forget the power of a pastry full of butter and a cup full of coffee…it just might change your life.