Waldemar Szary, a food technician at the OSM “Paziocha”, was having a very bad day – the kind of a very bad day, which normally comes after one of those very good days. A day, when nothing works, and when life kicks you in the ass harder than your friends at work. A day when you remember your innocent childhood and would like to return to those times, when there were no very bad days coming after very good days. A day, when you look in the mirror and realize that you’re not sure you know the person staring impudently back at you with blood-shot eyes. A day, when you’d seriously consider separating your mind from your body. Separating, at least until when the body stops causing you grief.
In other words, Waldemar Szary had a massive hangover.
And when he had a hangover everything was always falling from his hands, which in his case could have serious repercussions. That’s why the chief food technician in the leading dairy cooperative in the country was reclining behind a giant mixing vat and desperately wanted to forget about the negative stimuli on his nerve cells caused by the 83 kilograms of his body.
“Szary to the manager!” The sore specialist for new flavor development heard as if through a heavy acoustic fog.
“Szary, you will make me a new product. Gotta be new and winning, not like those earlier super sweet yogurts, total crap. A French sourmilky delegation is arriving today, and I need to have something in an hour. Now get to work, time is running out. And it’s your time, not mine,” the production manager was half-shouting, which was typical of him during very bad days coming after very good days.
The last very good day for both of them was spent at Miss Elwira’s, the accountant, name day party. Every year she was throwing a party and everybody would always come, because if they didn’t, she’d forget to transfer salaries to their bank accounts. So both the manager and the technician got drunk on the same vodka, from the same bottle even, in each other’s arms, about which they didn’t want to be reminded.
“New product, new product in one hour… last time I had three,” Szary complained and with certain difficulty opened the ingredient storage cabinet. A week ago he received a shipment of new flavors from the French Colonies. A row of shining new cans tempted him with labels and optimism: fruit a la mango, exotic fruit with bacon, fruity mushroom, vegetable-carrot cellulose, natural flavor of home made yogurt, eccentric raspberry flavored orange and many others.
Time was running out and Szary slowly began to work, knowing that the last 45 minutes he had to spend on testing the new flavor, an activity which always ended up in the bathroom. He was convinced that the manager gave him this task today simply to make his life totally miserable after the shindig at Elwira’s. But what could he do? Into a small vat he poured with a shaking hand some fresh yogurt from two weeks ago. For his experiments, he used exclusively this yogurt, it didn’t provoke any unexpected gastric sensations like the natural ones, without those stabilizing E-numbers (E298, E301, E980). He poured some more, because he had spilled before, and now he spilled again, and then he had enough and went behind the mixing vat to recline for a while and forget about his 83 kilograms.
He was stirred to life by the drone of the secretary’s voice:
“Szary to the manager!”
The technician, wanting to escape into tomorrow, regained consciousness and jumped on his feet, which were not all that stable. He flung himself from the cabinet to the equipment table. He poured some kefir into himself, and then by mistake into the vat. He was shaking as he frantically opened cans with flavors, he knew he had two minutes, because then, the whole company would hear through the speakers:
“Szary on the carpet to the CEO!”
He added one flavor and mixed it in, and then another, but he spilled it. He didn’t check the label on the third one, but added it, too. From experience, he knew that the less defined the flavor, the better the manager liked it.
“Maybe it’s not such a bad idea with this kefir. The manager has a hangover, too,” he briefly thought when he was pouring in additional ingredients.
He added more kefir and home-made kefir flavor, but not too much, because his hands were shaking, then he still had to mix it and add a few E-numbers. That went quick, he already had a tried and true mix of additives, preservatives, and stabilizers ready, which had always worked just fine.
“Szary on the carpet to the CEO!”
And the technician from the OSM “Paziocha” ran to the office, where the production manager was already waiting for him.
He took a deep breath:
“Kefir with a multi-fruit and multi-vegetable yogurt flavor,” he said with gloomy enthusiasm and leaned against the wall awaiting the “if looks could kill” firing squad.
“Gimme a spoon,” the CEO said, and like a true connoisseur began to sniff the mixture first. Then he tried it and asked the manager to do the same.
“So,” he said after a while, which in most cases meant it was OK.
“Yeah, you did good this time, Szary. This is good, right?” The manager half-whispered to the CEO, as he always did on his very bad days.
“So, yeah. I like. And the Frenchies will too. And when are they coming, those frat-eaters?”
“Oh yes, only the day after after after tomorrow, and maybe even after,” the manager replied and began to eat quickly to change the subject, “hmm… good, those multi-flavor ones.”
“Good. Now we gotta make some yogurt with a natural kefir flavor with pieces of fresh fruit, you know, those from that delivery from three years back, that’s been sitting all this time, because it was too sweet,” the CEO announced and Szary now knew for sure that the day would only be one of those very bad ones. As opposed to very, very, very bad.