You know how a picture can sometimes bring back very specific, highly-detailed memories or questions—like how something tasted, what someone said to you or why I ever did that with my hair? One of my co-workers sent a photo to me from last December that immediately brought back the sweet, sweet smell of Dollywood funnel cakes. Let me explain.
During our Smoky Mountain Christmas festival last season, a call came out asking for some help on one of our busier days. Dollywood is a special place, and for the employees who work here, the people we work alongside become family. I’ve never met a co-worker who won’t provide help when I need it, and for that reason, I try to reciprocate in every situation I can.
Jennifer Gorman, one of my marketing teammates (and the person who took these photos), and I were assigned to Splinter’s Funnel Cakes in Wilderness Pass. When we reported for duty, Brandon Hall from our foods team explained to us everything we needed to know for our shift. To say Brandon was gracious and understanding is an understatement. I was in charge of pouring and cooking the funnel cake; Jennifer decorated them.
We got the hang of it and soon were producing award-winning funnel cake masterpieces. Ok, so maybe they looked good because Jennifer did a good job of covering up my mistakes on the first handful. After a little practice though, they started looking pretty good. I eventually got the swirl technique down and my muscle memory still allows me to duplicate it for the next time I get pulled in to action.
While the process was fun, and creating funnel cakes really does end up feeling like making your own piece of edible art, it also was very tiring. Even though it was mid-December, the hot oil and amount of movement kept me very warm. By the end of the day my back hurt, my feet were sore from standing all day and I smelled like…well, a funnel cake. I can smell myself just by looking at the photos. No doubt, it is a hard day. But you know what was interesting? I was laughing and having fun the entire time.
Interacting with guests and co-workers I normally don’t work with caused my day to go by quickly. My eight-hour shift ended in what felt like three or four hours. I enjoyed my shift, and would eagerly make funnel cakes again, but it reinforced something I already know. Our front line hosts do an amazing job of interacting with guests in a genuinely friendly way, while also keeping up with important things like line speed, creating quality products and making our guests feel appreciated. And they do it in the heat of the summer, the cold of the winter and everything in between.
At the end of the day, the job can be exhausting but sharing those unique moments with you, our guests, are what keep us coming back for more no matter what position we have. Now, point me to the funnel cake batter.