It was December 11th. My youngest daughter had fallen asleep on the couch and I was just starting to doze with her when the phone rang. I sprang from the couch as quickly and quietly as I could to answer the phone so the ringing wouldn’t wake her. It was one of my baker’s calling out for the following morning – she had been at the ER with her daughter who injured her knee. That was no big deal as another baker was due in at the same time and I could just go in early to explain everything and we could adjust accordingly.
That’s where the first flaw in the plan hit…in my urgency to answer the phone quickly I kind of kick-started my body into alert mode. It was just past 10:30 and I was wide awake. Although my daughter slept through it all – including my carrying her to her bed – I didn’t fall back to sleep until some time after 1:30AM. The morning baker starts at 5AM. I’m in my forties nowadays, so dragging my butt out of bed with that little sleep has become too difficult. So, it was after 6 before I arrived at the store.
I didn’t expect too many problems, though. After all, the other baker scheduled at 5AM probably came to the conclusion her co-worker was out and jumped in to baking within 15 minutes. That’s where the second flaw in the plan hit…when I made my way back to the bakery (6:20AM) she hadn’t started any baking and was only working on the original task she was assigned, which is greatly dependent upon the 5AM baker. I quickly explained the situation and asked if she’d rather take over baking or continue her other job. She said she was having abdominal pain and didn’t think she could handle the physical aspect of baking. (Yes, there’s a very physical aspect to the AM baker job at my store.) So, I took over at 6:26, almost one-and-one-half hour after the job should’ve been started. It was not going to be a fun day.
Twenty minutes later, the other baker came into the kitchen and said, “I think I need to go to the hospital…and someone’s going to have to take me.” I arranged for our courtesy clerk to take her and while that was happening she clutched her stomach and grunted in pain. She also was embarrassed by wetting her pants in the process. So now I was down two employees, one whose health I was greatly concerned about, and 1:30 behind schedule. Yes, this was not a fun morning.
But the rest of us got into a groove by sharing jobs and just accepting the fact we’d be behind all day. I had placed calls to get people in early or in on their day off, but was playing the waiting game at the time. And it was hard to get help from other departments as the manager informed me there were 3 other call-outs in the store that day. So, while I was in the freezer it was no wonder I heard her telling the next manager that it had been a surreal morning. Little did I know how surreal it really was…
It turns out our baker who was taken to the hospital had a baby. AND SHE DIDN’T KNOW SHE WAS PREGNANT! Apparently when the nurse effectively caught the baby popping out of her told she just had a baby her response was, “NO!!”
I find it fascinating that no one could know they are pregnant. My wife deals with morning sickness, nausea, constipation, insomnia and any number of other pregnancy-related problems, including long labors, and my baker didn’t know anything about her own. In fact, my wife was pregnant at the time and was on intravenous fluids for 4 weeks. It was our fifth child and every pregnancy had it’s share of hardships.
So, after picking my jaw up off the freezer floor I asked if she was okay. Yes, baby and mommy were both healthy, happy, and very stunned. I also was happy for my baker, after all she no longer need be embarrassed about pissing her pants…it was just her water breaking. She’s probably also thankful that her water broke when it did because she had been in the very same freezer just minutes before and she would’ve gotten stuck. However, given the fact that I was a proud father of four already I think she could’ve let me help with the delivery and not missed the rest of her shift! I mean, if anybody at the store can to it, it would be me. After all…
Like I said, we were pregnant for the fifth time – a fact which earned me the nickname, “The Impregnator,” from our seafood specialist. Of course he was the first person to make the smart ass comment, “What did you do to your baker, bump into her?” Clever and witty though it was, that little joke only started an avalanche of other wisecracks at The Impregnator’s expense. The only defense I had was that she’d had a boy, and I could only produce girl offspring. But one month later even I lost that excuse when my wife gave birth to a boy.
And none of my co-workers have looked at me the same way since.