Think of Bank Holidays in the good old days: you could quadruple your bread production and customers would be waiting for you to open.
Hot cross buns were amazing at Easter; you sold them all through the week and then, on Thursday, you could barely cope with production. On Friday morning, all you did was put the buns in the bags as fast as possible and there were still good sales on the Saturday.
We have probably ruined the traditional seasonal sales pattern, but we have no choice: once the supermarkets start selling them early, our customers expect us to have them.
Then there is Christmas, when our money comes from normal lines, such as hot savouries, morning goods and filled rolls. The novelty lines we make just lie there looking at us as though they cannot bear to leave our tender loving care.
The demand for traditional Christmas cake is getting less every year and we are fast approaching the situation where we may stop making it. Mince pies are the same: we start making them so early that, on the last week, our sales are nothing like we should expect; to be truthful, I can never get used to how poor the sales are, compared to what I expected.
Whenever I meet and talk with people, you can bet your last dollar that the subject always comes round to how dreadful things are these days: the young ’out of control’; appalling educational standards; and punctual timekeeping a thing of the past.
Why has it become like this? We all have a theory, and mine is simple and, I suppose, completely politically incorrect. It is a lack of fear. When we were young we were wary of pushing our fathers too far. Then came school and teachers were like gods to us, who, while in the main kindly, would not hesitate to chastise us if we went too far.
Back then we were so scared when we started work that if we did not do a good job, the boss would fire us. This has now disappeared and the young today would think our age was barbaric. Well, it was not, it was a polite, caring society where vandalism and swearing on the streets was virtually unheard of.
When you think about it, a little fear is a good thing. If a hungry lion was after you, I’d guarantee you’d run faster than you’ve ever run in your life. The same would apply if you were always late or no good at your job. After all, if you knew you would be fired on the spot and there would be no unemployment benefit or another job (because you would have a bad reference), do you really think you would not contemplate mending your ways?
Hard, cruel bosses are not the only sufferers. Fellow workers pay a high price for tardy colleagues by covering for them. As a result, we have less profit to pay these workers higher wages while they carry the lazy employees.
Mind you, all industries are as bad: when I fly anywhere now, I always ask for a ticket to wherever my luggage is going. n