“If you give me a cookie, I’ll be happy.”
–Christopher Morris, age 3 (obviously a savant)
When I first met Lynn, she was working as the cook for a northern Wisconsin resort. She moved to Gunnison with the aim of getting out of the food industry that dominated her resume, but when she went to the Job Service office (now it’s called Workforce), the company that contracted with both the college (which it was, back then) and the hospital for food service was looking for help, and there she was — instant job, without even trying.
She ended up as the baker at the college. When a farmers’ market got underway here in Gunnison, she became one of the six vendors for the inaugural season, selling her own baked goods. She left Sodexo (because she wasn’t working for Western Then State, but their contractor, a giant international company) to start her own bakery.
When the space she was renting underwent a property management change, the new company, which has never enjoyed a positive reputation around town, jacked her rent 145 percent. We looked for other spaces, but since her existing location was in an alley, Lynn worried that more exposure would mean more business, and she was already maxed out.
(A couple years later a representative of the management company asked someone I knew what had happened to “the baker lady.” “We would have given anything to keep her,” he said, which was definitely NOT our version of the non-negotiable increase. Happily, in a vindictive sense, the space sat vacant for quite some time.)
Lynn opted to close her business down and go back to Sodexo, which is how we came to have a garage full of large commercial appliances and baking supplies.
You have no idea how sad people were, and still are, that she closed down her bakery. But those around her watched as the stress melted right out of her features and decided it was for the best. And when she left Sodexo and — a mere 14 years later than planned — took up a career outside of food service, even more stress went away.
[We were buying yet more paint at Ace Hardware when she and our cashier, a fellow food service refugee, had an extremely enthusiastic conversation about how their current avocations start when they arrive at work and end when they leave. No overnight stress to stress about.]
Through all these permutations, though, she has continued to bake. No more wedding cakes — you think you have stress — but a few cakes every year for the bank’s annual customer appreciation party, a birthday cake here and there, and cookies. Lots and lots of cookies.
People often wonder why I don’t weigh 300 pounds, and in a former life maybe I would have, but I can’t ingest sugar like I could in my younger years (yes, this is very sad), so I have to pace myself with the cookies and skip a lot of her other creations.
Although Lynn often isn’t happy with the outcome (hence the former stress levels), her cookies are an object of Joy. Capital J. There are people in this world who bargain for them — our accountant, mechanic, contractor. Then there are people like me who have just adapted a lifestyle expectation that there will always be home-baked cookies in the house.
Okay, Forces have been in Motion and the morning has gotten away from me. Sadly, I will have to abandon this topic until tomorrow — splitting it in half, which reminds me of my favorite Lynn-selling-cookie stories. You’ll just have to tune in tomorrow to hear/read it.