09 August 2008


The summer heat has arrived. You know the heat....where you have to roll your underwear off to use the washroom, sweat trickles down your back while you sit still, the air feels like the inside of a toaster oven. Right now it is 30 C. Good and hot.

One reason I don't mind the heat too much is because I work in an oven. Ok, a commercial bakery, but it might as well be an oven. We have three ovens that are about 7' tall, 4.5' wide and 4.5' deep. These are on from eleven at night until around noon the next day. I work in an area about 60' from the ovens. Beside me is Cooking. There are three steam powered kettles in Cooking. Two hold around 100kg (220lbs) of liquid, the other around 250kg (550lbs) of stuff. We make caramel and parisienne cream in the big one. So I have the oven heat and the boiling sauces/creams heat coming at me all day. To top it off I have Wash Bay right across from me as well. So I also have the moist hot air from three water hoses spraying all day and the pan washer spewing super-heated water and steam whenever it's opened. I start work at 5am. By 505am on Friday I was sweating. I had puddles in my ears under my hair net, a river down my spine settling into the lake at the small of my back. My shirt front was soaked from wearing a plastic apron and my legs were wet from pants that don't breathe well. The temperature in the bakery is above 28 C on days like this.

What do I do at the bakery, you ask? Scaling. I measure all the ingredients for everything that will be made. All the cakes, caramels, icings, drizzles, glazes, creams and decorations. The vast majority of ingredients come in 20kg (50lb) containers that I have to lift, push, carry and shift in order to scale from them. I added it up and found out I lift an average of 2000kg (4400lbs) during the day. There comes a point in every day that I accept that I will get dirty and sweaty. The biggest treat in the summer is standing at my locker at the end of the day and peeling my socks off. I hate wearing socks in the summer.

So the outside air doesn't feel nearly as hot to me as it would to someone who works in an air-conditioned building. For me it's just a treat not to have to actually lift anything heavier than my purse in the heat. So I don't mind my house feeling like a furnace or the air burning my grass. I know that in the winter it will be below -30 C at some point. And I really do prefer the heat to the cold.

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