Baking is (sometimes) serious business
Jenny is one of the baristas I work with at Plymouth Grounds Coffee Shop, a partnership between Ruby Van Meter School in the Des Moines Public School District (RVM is a school for students with intellectual disabilities) and Plymouth Congregational UCC, my church . For the last year, Jenny has been spending Wednesday afternoons baking with me or another volunteer–usually the other volunteer because I have a crazy schedule and am often not available. However, I was with her both last week and this week, and she just rocked it, both times, cranking through brownies, two batches of cookies, and a coffee cake today–in a mere two hours. Jenny was on fire, as we say in the restaurant business…
But even better than her work ethic is her sense of humor. Here’s the deal: last week she was so focused on the cookies she was making that she got some flour on her face–sort of like that Rice Krispie treat commercial where the woman “splashes” flour on her face to make it look like she’d been working hard. Only Jenny didn’t get flour on her face on purpose, it just happened, as it does to any good cook. It was so cute, I had to take a selfie–Jenny is super photogenic and really hams it up for the camera. The picture above is the result.
At the start of her shift today I sent her down to get the baking cart from the kitchen storage room, a routine she’s accustomed to and expects, and when she took longer than I thought she should, I headed down to make sure everything was okay. We met when the elevator doors opened and what did I see? Jenny with flour on her face! She’d put a couple of swipes on her cheeks to surprise me and make me laugh, which, of course, I did. Loudly. How awesome is that??
I can only speak for myself, but sometimes I forget that people with challenges aren’t necessarily challenged in every aspect of their lives. When I first met Jenny I thought that, because she has a hard time communicating verbally, she would, in turn, have a hard time with Everything Else (because, you know, we all like to be pigeon-holed) . But let me tell you something: the girl crushes it in the kitchen. And she cracks me up. And if anyone can bake a mean chocolate chip cookie AND get me to laugh, they’re a person I’m gonna want to hang out with.