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Figuring Out How The Cookie Crumbles

, , , , , , , | Working | January 17, 2023

I’m a seventeen-year-old looking for my first summer job. Around mid-June, I notice that a recently-opened bakery is hiring. I walk in and ask for an application. The owner, a woman in her forties, just hands me an apron.

Owner: “You can start right now. Go start making cookies.”

Me: “How am I supposed to make them? I’ve never done these kinds of cookies before.”

Owner: “Figure it out.”

Me: “But aren’t you going to train me?”

Owner: “I don’t have time to train you. And besides, you’re a big girl. You can figure it out. Now get to work!”

Luckily, I do know how to make cookies, but since I don’t know how the owner wants them, I give it my best shot, following the recipe as closely as possible. They turn out pretty good — very close to the ones on display, in fact. However, when I show them to the owner, she absolutely blows her lid.


She tosses the batch of perfectly fine cookies — easily about $30 to $40 worth of them going by her prices — straight into the trash.

Me: “I’m sorry! I wasn’t entirely sure how you wanted them!”

Owner: “No s***, you didn’t! I can’t sell those!”

Me: “I gave it my best shot and went by the recipe! How was I supposed to know how you wanted them if you didn’t train me?”

Owner: “I told you, figure it out! You know what? Just go home; I don’t have time for this. Tomorrow, I’ll give you something you can actually do.”

This routine continues for the next couple of days. Each time, she gives me something different to do that I don’t know how to do, tells me to “figure it out”, and then screams at me for not doing it correctly even though I gave it my best shot.

On my fourth day, instead of flipping out like she usually does, she pulls me into the office.

Owner: “Listen. I’ve lost my patience with you. Since you’re not doing your job like I told you to, you’ve left me no choice but to fire you.”

Me: “But you never trained me for anything! How am I supposed to do what you ask if I don’t know how?”

Owner: “I’ve told you time and time again! Figure! It! Out!”

Me: “No, you were supposed to train me!”

Owner: “It’s not my job to train people! God, it’s no wonder nobody here lasts longer than a week! No one can figure anything out anymore!”

Me: “Well, maybe if you’d train them like I—”

Owner: “Enough! This conversation is over! Just go, and don’t come back!”

I left without saying another word. Luckily, it wasn’t long before I found a different job at a bookstore just up the street, which, ironically enough, was owned by the bakery owner’s father-in-law. According to my new boss, everything began to fall apart at the bakery not long after my time there.

He told me his daughter-in-law’s continued insistence on having her employees “figure it out” instead of properly training them led to the bakery becoming a practical revolving door of employees getting hired and then either quitting out of frustration or getting fired after three or four days of being screamed at for mistakes that were not their fault.

Between the high employee turnover (pardon the pun), [Owner]’s tendency to throw out perfectly sellable cookies and pastries just because they weren’t exactly the way SHE wanted them, and customers being driven away by her behavior, she found herself deep into the red almost every week. By the start of August, she could no longer afford to pay her business and personal expenses because she was literally throwing so much money away.

In fact, [Owner] dug herself so far into debt that she had to file for bankruptcy, which led to her husband filing for divorce once he found out.

[Owner] later came to the bookstore to ask her soon-to-be ex-father-in-law to lend her money to help with the divorce. He laughed, told her to figure it out, and slammed the door in her face.

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