At the bustling Quebrada Bakery, alongside her mostly college and high school aged coworkers, 55 year old Karen Giorgio runs back and forth behind the counter five to six days a week, tirelessly grabbing food and helping customers. She took a job at a bakery because she loves to bake.
Since age thirteen, Giorgio has worked.
First there was the laundromat, then the printing company, and once Giorgio was in her twenties, she began bartending, which led to returning to school and getting her associates degree in physical therapy. In her thirties and forties, she worked in orthopedics at MGH, a nursing home, the ICU, and at a preschool.
“I like challenging work. I guess it’s just my personality,” she says.
At Quebrada, Giorgio spends her long days scurrying back and forth from the counter to the back tables to the cake room, helping out wherever she can. She cuts lemons, fixes the signs on the cakes, and sneaks a chocolate chip cookie for herself when no one is watching.
At home, she eagerly watches YouTube videos on how to operate the espresso machine and scrawls cheat-sheets for the cake ingredients on index cards that she stuffs in her apron pocket and whips out when a customer has a question.
Some days, work keeps her busy, and she spends too much time restocking the straws and counting register money to chat with her fellow employees. Whenever there’s a lull in the coffee-obsessed line of customers, though, Giorgio stops to ask her younger coworkers how school is going, talk to the bakers about their weekends, and gossip with her manager about her granddaughter.
“It’s the rewarding kind of jobs, where you get to know people,” she says. “It’s about the people for me.”