In The Sea of Chocolate, Where Everyone Would Love To Drown

Years ago, I worked briefly in a commercial kitchen, mostly scrubbing pots. One afternoon, one of the cooks came in to the pot room, where I was working alone. She was a tiny lady, maybe four foot nine, sweet and timid. “Can you help me in the kitchen?” she asked, a little tremulously. “Can you help me lift something I can’t lift myself? Something I spilled?” I followed her into the kitchen and noticed she was trembling all over.

In the kitchen, I found a mess. Or was it a dream come true? She had mixed up about 40 gallons of chocolate cake batter in the mixer, placed it into sheet cake pans, and loaded the pans into a six-foot-tall cart. Then she had gotten behind the cart, put her shoulder to it and pushed it down the aisle toward the ovens. In this aisle was a drain, and over the drain was no grate. A leading wheel of the cart had gone into the drain, and down it went.

The batter of twenty sheet cakes was forming a small pond. I tugged on the cart, but the batter made suction on it and held it fast. I had to slide the rack and its two dozen baking pans along the floor to extricate it from the batter-pond.

The shaky chef stood close at hand with a small mop. “Do you think… could you…?” I looked at the mop. I looked at the pond of chocolaty wonderfulness. I thought of Augustus Gloop — and I jumped in.

With a yelp, I sat flat down in that pond and gathered up as much batter as I could in my arms. I raised them to heaven in thanksgiving and the batter slid into my mouth, across my face, over my head… it was bliss.

I paddled around in the pond until I was giddy, then hosed myself down, cleaned up the kitchen, found a change of clothes and headed back to the pot room, absolutely euphoric.

That was the best job I ever had.

Augustus Gloop

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