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Forced labor

Stiffed a few quid

Por arte

Pumping units

The head baker at "Boulangerie des Gourmets" in Dublin of 2001 decided early that I did not know what I was doing.

It had been years since I'd baked well, and I remembered why: most bakery jobs are awful.

Employment in a wholesale bakery operation is meaningless and without sentimental value. The work is indistinguishable from that at any other factory.

I worked at Spot Bagel in Seattle for a while, where I stood over a boiler in front of a massive old ferris-wheel gas oven, wearing rubber gloves and scooping product onto baking shelves. There, a new shop manager had just come in. He used to work in a factory making hats. He talked about "units." Pump those units. Make production. He didn't know about baking; didn't need to.

At Boulangerie des Gourmets, the manager said he thought that I'd be able to learn a lot. I could go back to the States with experience at a French bakery to my credit, he implied.

Nonsense. The work was nothing more than pure capitalist unit-pumping.