Working as a cashier in a local bakery has helped me realize much bigger things about life. While many things seem like no-brainers, they are often forgotten about. Common experiences at my bakery job can be applied to big, real-life concepts because, sometimes, we all (especially me) need sweet little reminders about perspective

1. Making someone’s day is simple.

From giving out samples in the store to surprising my friends with leftover pastries after my shift, they never fail to put a smile on someone’s face. While these things seem simple to me, they can turn someone else’s day around. A little pick-me-up or pay-it-forward act can make a world of a difference in someone’s life.

2. Building community is so important.

doughnut, cake, chocolate
Elizabeth Guararra

This seems like a hard task in downtown Chicago, yet the blocks around the bakery seem to be as connected as my small hometown in Missouri. From doing food trades with our extra baked goods, we get to know other businesses and brighten each other’s days (and try a bunch of cool new food.) At the end of the night, we donate our unsold food to a local charity, rather than tossing it. This connects us as a community and humbles me because what could be our garbage can now reach other people instead.

3. The key to good work ethic is passion and gratefulness.

cake, chocolate cookie, cookie, chocolate
Elizabeth Guararra

From all of my cashier jobs (I've had three) this is the most important realization. If you don’t feel grateful for the job you’ve been given, you won’t work as hard. Knowing how hard it can be to get a good job that will work around my class schedule makes me work so much harder to keep the job I have now. This mindset can help in all aspects of life. While the ins and outs of classes, clubs and work can be daunting, thinking about the privileges and blessings to be a part of them, makes mandatory or tiring events much more enjoyable and productive.   

4. Mistakes are not the end of the world, if you’re respectful.

Whether it’s dropping (another) pastry on the ground or not having an order in on time, most customers and coworkers will help you out and give you a break if you treat them with respect and kindness. It’s much easier to get angry with someone who has wronged you than someone who has always been nice and hard-working.

5.   Be understanding, you might not know the whole story.

chocolate, cake
Jamie Gentges

Since working at the bakery, I work hard to be patient everywhere I shop. Many times we have been swamped with orders and were not able to open the bakery on time, or have been so busy that we don’t get an order out when it should or customers have a wait in the store. From working through all of this, I learned that if my food doesn’t come out in a timely manner at a restaurant, etc. that something could be going on that I don’t know about. Also, from being a sassy, angry customer because of a bad day myself, I learned to be patient with customers that seem rude, because they may be trying to buy cake just to help them get through the day (we’ve all been there.)

6.  Just eat a dang treat!

cream, sweet, cake, chocolate, candy
Corey Baker

Customers always tell me "I don't know how you work here, I would never stop eating" or "I wouldn't be as thin as you are if I worked here." While yes, it has been a temptation, but I've learned it's ok to treat myself to a sweet every once and a while. Sweets may not be the most nutritious food group, but splurging is okay and healthy.

To put it simply, baked goods are great, kindness is easy and we all can work on the little things to make the world a more understanding and happier place.