I’ve slung donuts on Saturdays at USC for about ten years now. Since I became the Production Manager for USC’s School of Theatre in Spring of 2005, I brought my personal practice of providing bagels to actors at rehearsals on Saturdays to our tech process. Every Saturday tech, I brought enough donuts so that each student, actor, designer, crew member, director could have at least one donut.

I shudder to think about the scale of this donut habit. And hope that by coming clean I don’t do the habit in. Because now the habit is subsidized. How many donut dollars are we talking about here?

A view of the back seat of my car on just about any Saturday morning at around 9:30AM

Let’s figure 19 shows X 3 dozen donuts (lowball figure) x $6.00 per dozen x 4 years. Plus 19 shows X 4 dozen donuts x $9.00 per dozen x 6 years.  In fairness, the donuts were only about $5.00 a dozen when I started.  That’s $5,472.00 in donuts attributed to the Production Department. As I said, that’s a lowball figure because figure this weekend, there were 8 dozen donuts in my car for the Techs of Grease and Way of the World.

And my informal research has shown an increasing difficulty in procuring these vital donuts. Over time, I have developed the practice of calling the order in at about 9:00AM before leaving my condo, and upon arriving at the store, Tina would greet me warmly, and there, on the counter, the donuts would be stacked up  awaiting my arrival.

Sadly, two factors have interfered with my good donut karma. Tina no longer works at the local Spudnuts. She opened her own store which is too far away for me to use. In addition, The Row’s denizens are now breaking their fast at Spudnuts. Last tech Saturday, I arrived at 9:30 to pick up the four dozen and alas, found no boxes on the counter; instead, I found myself in a line of 8 hung over students waiting in line to order their eggs and bacon breakfasts, cooked on a portable griddle, order by excruciating order. The one other employee was pulling donuts and ringing people up at the cash register. It was a traffic jam of epic proportions.

This morning, I was more strategic. I got up at 7:00AM, picked up my cell phone, dialed Spudnuts, and ordered eight dozen mixed donuts for 9:30AM. All in all, I thought it was a brilliant work-around to a really annoying problem.

When I pulled up at 9:40, I could see people spilling out onto the sidewalk through the doors of the donut store. I parked, strode confidently into the store, and bypassing the line, walked up to the counter where there were five boxes finished on the counter. I caught the owner’s eye, saying “I’m here for my eight dozen donuts,” then backed discretely back into the line to await. In front of me were two groups of coeds with matching white t-shirts emblazoned with “Row Soccer.” They were laughing and having a great time. I was pretty relaxed until I heard one of them step up to the counter and say, “I ordered three dozen donuts yesterday,” and watched grimly as the employee  peeled the top three boxes off the stack and handed them to her. I couldn’t pitch a fit because after all, they had ordered them before I had. But when the second coed approached the counter and said “I need three dozen donuts,” I turned into a raptor with talons outstretched, my eyes glued on my prey, the owner of the shop, who was moving really fast, filling boxes with a speed until now never seen at Spudnuts. At least not since Tina left.

The stack of boxes on the counter was growing and now there were 6, now 7 boxes, and the other people in the line were starting to get annoyed. One of the girls in the front of the row said, “Who is this order for? I probably know the person!” The owner pointed to the back of the line, and all 8 girls slowly turned to look at me, as I sheepishly raised my hand and waved at the girls.
“OH!” She exclaimed, and I blushed, as all the sorority sisters turned and looked at me as if to say, “Who’s the matron saint of the donuts in the back of the line?”

I stepped up to the counter today, handing my card to the owner, who told me she had boxed 30 dozen donuts that morning before my 8. I paid as quickly as I could and said to the owner, “I’ll come right back for the other four boxes.” Surprisingly, one of the soccer girls in line sweetly said, “Do you need help?” And soon, she was assisting me with the other four boxes. She grilled me on the way to the car.

“What do you need all these donuts for?”

“We have tech today in two theatres.”

“It’s so nice of you to buy them donuts! What are you teching?”
“We’re in tech for Grease and Way of the World. You should come see them. They start this Thursday.”

IMG_3823 2
The cart laden with “Grease’s” donuts bound for The Bing Theatre.

What I didn’t share with my  helper was the philosophy of the donut deliveries. These donuts are critical to the theatrical process. If you’ve ever been backstage at any professional theatre during a load in at 10:30AM, you know the precision of the donut drop for a union crew. The Work Can Not Go On without the donuts, my friends.

Because I was a little late this morning with the donuts, I just hope I didn’t cripple the techs for the two shows.

You be the judge. We open the two shows next Thursday. Come on down!

The Way of the World, USC School of Dramatic

Grease, USC School of Dramatic Arts

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