Confessions of an MCG Pie-Girl

Work it, gurl!

It starts the day you turn fifteen. It crawls in slowly but surely. It begins with your parents dropping hints and giving you less money when you want to go out. You see it happening to your friends and you feel that irk beneath your skin. You cannot shake the it, no matter how hard you try. You know it’s inevitable but you cling to the shreds of your past life. In the end you must give in and realise the fact of life: it’s time to get a job.

I managed to stave away the J word for as long as possible. I decided to over-commit myself to school and extra-curriculars. It wasn’t because I was lazy or I couldn’t be bothered contributing to society, it was mainly because I wasn’t ready. I didn’t know what I wanted to do and slaving away at the local Maccas for near minimum wage didn’t quite appeal to me. It didn’t help that I wasn’t prepared to wean myself off the Bank of Dad.

For the past few months Dad had been showing me job openings at local businesses. I had a resume ready to go but something kept holding me back, a little voice at the back of my brain telling me it wasn’t right. Mind you, it could’ve also been my inner procrastinator screeching not to do it. I had pulled through Year 9 without a job but come Year 10 I realised it was time. Whenever I asked for some money for the movies I’d get $20.00 instead of $30.00. I would get a disappointed look whenever I asked Dad to buy something, the kind of look you get when you’ve failed a maths test or accidentally hit someone in the head with a hockey stick. I knew I needed a job and I needed it fast.

It was on a Monday morning during Outdoor Education class when I found my calling. On my school newsfeed was a message from the careers teacher. It was for pie vending at the MCG. I heard a chorus of angels singing and bright lights flooded through the room. I was determined to be a Pie Girl. That night I sent in my resume and waited patiently. And by patiently, I mean checking my email every 10 minutes, hoping to hear back. The email came and I had been invited to attend an interview.

The interview day arrived. Around 40 secondary school age students filed into a posh dining room overlooking the MCG grounds. We were sat at white clothed tables and given a jug of water. We felt like royalty. The vending coordinator came around and interviewed us. We were asked the usual question, “What qualities do you have that will help you excel in this role?” I responded with an over-zealous comment about confidence and how I love working with people and making them smile. I regretted this comment immediately.

My hopes and dreams came crashing down further when a boy gave the perfect job-winning response, along the lines of: “I actually speak a second language, so I have great communication skills,” SECOND LANGUAGE? I can barely speak proper English and this kid can speak not one, but TWO languages fluently. I thought I was done for. I moaned to my dad on the way home with an at-least-I-tried attitude towards the whole process.

Three days later the email came. I was shocked and confused. How on Earth did I get the job? I thought that my cheesy interview and evident lack of upper-body strength had done me in. I was pumped, telling all of my friends that I, Bridget “Footballerina” Schwerdt, would be an official employee at the MCG. Responses to this included:

“Well done!”

“But you’re not sporty!”

“Haha, LOL,”

I was a bit concerned that I would have the job taken away from me when I told them I was leaving for the first month of footy season. I had prepared what I was going to tell them at the induction session the following week, making sure I sounded apologetic but not needy. I sat with my friend who was also heading off to Germany with me. At the end of the long-winded session of expectations, uniforms and safety protocol my friend and I headed up to the coordinator. I can safely say that I still have my job.

The clock had ticked over to 7:30 and Dad had texted me asking when I would finish. I said in about 20 minutes.

I was wrong.

After the induction session we were taken down the underground labyrinth of the MCG. We were shown where to go for uniform, where to get our trays (which aren’t as heavy as I expected), how to stock up and where we should be selling our pies. I was on the edge as I had a bajillion tests the next day and the unexpected extension to the induction session had completely thrown me off my timetable.

Just as I thought we had finished we were escorted out to the ground seats. Normally I would’ve thought it was cool to sit at the MCG at 8:00 at night, but this evening I wasn’t. I had “accidentally” forgotten to wear my school blazer (or as I like to call it, the box) and I, in true Bridget fashion, was freaking out about tests that would make minimal contribution to my life in the long-run.

Finally, after 20 more minutes of necessary health and safety guidelines that I thought I had covered in the 4 hour online training, we were done. I was home by 9:30 and managed to squeeze in an hour of study for the numerous assessments that I had the next day.

Did I mention I had a lot of tests the following day?


The Big Day

After a month of gallivanting around Germany, I had my first shift: Round 5, Collingwood v. Carlton. Being my first shift I wanted to be early, but my version of early just so happened to be an hour before I was scheduled to begin. To fill up time I was told to go around the levels to acquaint myself with the surrounds.

By 6:50pm I was out selling pies. I was the only girl working in the outlet that night and I was warned by countless boys who were at least a head-and-a-half taller than me that “Your back’s gonna kill tomorrow morning” and “You won’t be able to walk for a week!”. Little did they know that my ballet-trained lower-back muscles were far superior to their frail and untouched behinds.

The night started off fine enough, selling a few pies here and there. It was only once the match started did I become overwhelmed. People would come to me sometimes three groups at a time, wiggling their money at me. It was more hectic than the cigarette smoke-filled tent music festival in Germany (hopefully to be elaborated upon at a later stage). What really got my goat was when people paid for a $3.00 water bottle with a $50.00 note, or worse, two $2.20 Freddo Frogs with a $20.00 note ($15.60 change).

I received a few Collingwood supporters calling “Hot pies, get your hot pies!” but in all honesty, I could not watch the game because of the laser focus it took to carry the tray. The disappointment on the Carlton supporters’ faces was enough to portray how the match was playing out.

Throughout my shift, I discovered that there is a nice camaraderie going on between the pie kids. We’d all smile at each other when we walked past or talk when refilling our trays. One older boy from my school was working and even spoke to me (ooooh, older people!).

The end of the night rolled around I was counting up the evening’s takings. To my dismay and embarrassment I came up a significant amount short of what I was supposed to have and I discovered a fundamental fault in my mathematics ability; I may be able to divide polynomials and sketch a pretty sick parabola, but I cannot figure out basic change to save myself.

Being the perfectionist I am, I apologised profusely and promised it would never happen again. The lady working in the outlet was okay with it, but for some reason I felt like it let someone down. In hindsight, it was probably every maths teacher I’ve ever had.

Dad picked me up from the gate and we walked to the train. I relayed the night to him up until my disappointing end when I may or may not have let my emotions get to me (like I said, perfectionist).

Aside from my super-epic-blunder-that-wasn’t-so-bad-come-Monday, it was a positive rewarding first shift and definitely did not deter me from working again. I think next time I’ll just use the pocket calculator…


Take Two

For Round 6 I was not on Pie Girl duty, instead I was working up in one of the level 4 outlets. Dad referred to my change in position as “Playing for the seniors and getting sent to the reserves.” So I thought that for this week I was benched. I rocked up a bit later than I did last shift with a friend who was a Pie Girl for the night.

The first immediate bonus for not working on pie duty: uniform. Bestowed upon me for the evening was a crisp white shirt, apron and cap, a welcome change from the bright yellow jacket and cap akin to a paper pirate hat.

I came up to my outlet and was greeted by a team of friendly 20+ year olds. Given the option of cashier or wiener duty, I jumped at the opportunity to be Bridget Schwerdt: Weiner Girl. The job was pretty self-explanatory, scooping hot dogs into their buns and putting them into the tray. Whilst I was constantly working it was a very simple job and by the end of my shift I wanted to stay Wiener Girl for the rest of my life.

Once we sold all hot dogs I had to empty out the hot dog holding contraption. The water flooded out into a bucket reminding me of a joke my friend (the Pie Girl for that night) and I had in Germany. In the land of the Germans, you can apparently buy sausages in jars, similar to pickles. Select individuals find pleasure in drinking the water, or “Wurstwasser”, from these jars. So for a good 10 minutes I was holding in the urge to laugh at the abundance of wurstwasser spouting out in front of me. It also doesn’t help that another friend once sang the Game of Thrones theme song using only one word: wiener. So with not one, but two inside jokes based on wieners (I know, how mature), I was entertained for the evening.

Again, I was fulfilled by the evening’s experience. I came out in a more positive mood than the last shift and met up with my friend in the change rooms. We exchanged tales from our shifts, ranging from wiener water to casual racism (sigh) and boarded the train home.

That is the summary of my Pie/Wiener Girl duties so far. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep you up to date with my adventures into the great wide world of vending.



About John Harms

John Harms is a writer, broadcaster, publisher, historian, speaker and teacher. He loves stories.

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