Monday, 25 April 2011

The first (sticky) paycheck I ever received smelled liked apples and cinnamon

Ladies and gentlemen, I have a secret.

A long time ago, I was illegally employed by a little shoppe called the Long Grove Apple Haus under the table because I wasn't of working age yet. They hired me for a weekend to assist for the Annual Long Grove Apple Fest, a tradition "as American as apple pie."

Long Grove is a Historical District, founded in 1838, with over 80 shops with names like Charlotte's Chapeaux (selling hats for all ages!) and Paddy's On The Square (Irish music, art, and sportwear!) and about a gazillion antique stores that my grandmother frequented often. This place had to be the prototype for Stars' Hollow.

My grandmother had secured me the position. When antiquing she would stop at the Haus and get some apple goods for the way home. After discovering that one of the owners had a grandson my age she immediately offered my apple services.

Being only 15, I had no apple services. I really had no services aside from the quadratic equation and AOL instant messaging but, hey, everyone likes money. Especially secret government-free money.

The thing about being paid under the table is that you don't get things like overtime. Overtime would have come in handy since we worked the entire festival. I'm talking 14-hour days working at an Apple Haus. Haus, people!

It was so sticky. My first duty was boxing the fresh-out-of-the-oven pies. The kitchen of the establishment was in the basement. It was a cellar really. An I-cannot-believe-it-passed-fire-code cellar. They put my fifteen-year-old self down there with the big scary oven with a stack of brown bags. I boxed 30 pies in a row. Then I boxed another 30 pies 15 minutes later when the first 30 had already sold.

The spring Chicago weekend was filled with dreary, damp weather and after I caught up with the oven I was sent outside (in the rain!) to give away free samples of the famous Apple Cinnamon Donuts.

I met the grandson there, under a soggy tent distributing mini sticky donuts. We chatted a bit and I fell in love. I wondered what he thought I might look like not covered in sugar. I wondered what it would be like to be dry again. I never saw him again. I turned 16 before the next fest and moved on to a real-deal, government-approved, timecard-punching job.

At the end of the fest they let me bring home tons of apple pies. I couldn't stand the smell of them. They fed us for almost a week. My mom says she knows they survived that long because it's so memorable that there was actually enough dessert to last that long.

I can't remember what was worse: standing outside in the pouring raining distributing hot cider and donuts for six hours straight, being in cellar hell with no promise of survival, or having to smell all those Apple Haus smells for days after. Or, you know, the unrequited love I forced upon myself.


Heather Anne Hogan said...

I don't know what's better: That you kept saying "Haus" over and over, or that you said "shoppe." Or the knowledge that working at Apple Haus prepared you for your careers as a Farmer.

Heather Anne Hogan said...

Or, you know, just the single career.

kat said...

this made me hungry. i need the piemaker, stat.

mysterygirl! said...

That town sounds totally quaint. An excellent story.

Jennie said...

I'm with Kat, this story just made me want some apple pie(s).

eclectic said...

I bet you were adorable covered in sugar!

Y'know, Leavenworth up here is a "Bavarian-themed" town, full of nothing but useless shoppes and hauses of all description, including an entire store devoted to nothing but nutcrackers. Seriously! I want you to work there this summer, please, because the story you will write about it needs me to read it. :)

Ashley said...

"I really had no services aside from the quadratic equation and AOL instant messaging."

It's reassuring to know that teenagers our age all across the country were doing the exact. same. thing. at the exact. same. time.