• Feasting on the job
     | November 23,2012
    Jeb Wallace-Brodeur Staff Photo

    Workers at the Champlain Farms in Montpelier pose with a turkey brought to them on Thanksgiving by a regular customer. From left are Rhonda MacAuley, Garrett Johnson and Nicholas Magoon, all of Barre.

    MONTPELIER — Despite starting work on Thanksgiving at 6:30 a.m., Champlain Farms deli manager Christie Verchereau had a massive turkey roasting during the day.

    The bird wasn’t in her kitchen but rather in the commercial oven at her workplace, the Shell gas station on Memorial Drive. A regular customer who fills up his farm equipment with diesel fuel, Mike Herring, had dropped off the turkey around 9 a.m. for the employees.

    Herring had asked Verchereau about her plans earlier in the week, so she knew the gift was coming, she said Thursday.

    “I turned the oven on, and the next thing it’s here,” she said.

    Despite being on the job on Thanksgiving, many in the area made time around their work schedules for a holiday meal.

    Montpelier firefighters and police officers received a feast courtesy of the New England Culinary Institute.

    And a chef preparing the Capitol Plaza Hotel & Conference Center’s Thanksgiving meal said the workday was shorter and less hectic than Easter or Mother’s Day.

    Almost all the parking spots on State Street were vacant during the morning. At Woodbury Mountain Toys, owner Karen Williams-Fox put up Christmas lights in a front window along with a tinsel-like decoration of large connected stars.

    As she was working, she talked on a headset to her husband. She had a two-hour time slot free and a turkey roasting in Cabot, she said. Thanksgiving would be the last day off until Christmas, she added.

    Bagitos café was open from 9 to 11 a.m., and kitchen manager Jeremy Childs had arranged for another employee to cover his shift, he said. When the person was a no-show, he filled in.

    His mom, Jacci Childs, was visiting from Cape Cod but went to work with him. “If I want to spend time with him, this is where he is,” she said, hugging him.

    Three Montpelier firefighters and an emergency medical technician with the department received a full meal, including pumpkin pie, courtesy of some instructors and students at the local culinary school. Lt. Jake Larrabee picked up the food from NECI on Main, followed later by police officers collecting their meal.

    City firefighters work 24-hour shifts beginning at 8 a.m., then have three days off.

    “There’s always someone here, and it’s random luck of the draw,” Larrabee said.

    Because Larrabee’s mother recently moved to the area, the family also invited the crew to her new home later in the day.

    EMT Fran Rousseau said their work sometimes requires staff with the department to miss major family events like birthday celebrations. But when that happens, they try to celebrate the day after, she said.

    Rousseau, who works four 10-hour shifts each week, said her family once agreed to have Christmas on Jan. 2 because of her schedule.

    At Capitol Grounds Café and Roastery, many regulars were there Thursday, said Lisa Lee, a dishwasher who volunteered to work the holiday. The shop’s regular hours are 6:15 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursdays, but on Thanksgiving it opened at 8 a.m. and closed at noon. People packed the tables of the coffee shop at midmorning.

    At the Capitol Plaza, a kitchen crew of about eight prepared a Thanksgiving meal for those who go out to eat. Tyler Chase said he has prepared Thanksgiving meals for his job for the last 10 years, but his wife works there with him.

    The couple made desserts the previous night for their family’s Thanksgiving potluck-type meal.

    Some 500 people were expected to eat at the Capitol Plaza on the holiday, but at Easter and Mother’s Day some 1,000 guests usually attend, Chase said. He said Thanksgiving shifts are easier because the staff preps the turkey and stuffing earlier in the week.

    Chase said he and his wife don’t mind working on Thanksgiving.

    “We’re more of Christmas people than Thanksgiving people,” he said. “We just miss (out on) that afternoon hangout time.”

    david.taube @timesargus.com

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