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Reflections of a Former Donut Thief

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I was fascinated by something the summer I worked in the bakery at a grocery store called Hinky Dinky and at a pastry shop called Dippy Donut. And no, it wasn't, "How do people come up with names like these for their businesses?" It was how the two management teams tried to discourage snitching.

At Hinky Dinky, no snitching allowed. It didn't look professional, we were told, and there weren't very many places to hide behind the counter. At Dippy's, you could have all the donuts you wanted. You could eat yourself into a sugar coma without fear of further punishment by your boss, and most employees -- or so I was told -- got so sick of everything a week into the job they swore it off.

At Hinky Dinky I found the treats all the tastier because they were forbidden. Maybe you've heard it described this way by a child -- that once someone tells you not to put a marble up your nose it's difficult to think of anything else. Plus the managers were wrong about hiding places. I found plenty.

At Dippy's, the treats were almost impossible to resist because I kept discovering new ones. I'd never thought of myself as a cake donut gal. But have you ever had a cake donut fresh from the fryer? And crullers. What could possibly be the point? Oh sure, they're pretty. But they taste the same as the other varieties of glazed, right? Wrong. The difference is subtle, and addicting.

So I ate donuts from seven in the morning until midnight, five or six days a week, for an entire summer -- and went back to college skinnier than when I'd left. Part of it was working 14-hour days, part of it was eating mostly only donuts, and part of it was being 19.

And part of it was... the dancing. I practically danced while I stocked the bread shelves at Hinky Dinky in the early mornings, as ELO's "Evil Woman" blasted over the speakers before the store opened. I loved both summer jobs. They made me feel competent -- unlike my engineering classes -- and they left me plenty of time to daydream.

They also filled me with ideas about what I wanted to do with my life. I longed to be creative, and took pride in the stickers I made for the day-old bakery items. I decorated them with a picture of a newborn baby and the words, "Born yesterday." My favorite job at Hinky Dinky? You guessed it. Making announcements over the loudspeaker about our specials. Other people had to write theirs out, and dreaded their turns. Not me. I ad-libbed my way through every one, and dared people not to come on over to the bakery to see what was... in store.

What about you? What did you learn from your earliest adventures in the world of work?