5 People Working in Milwaukee All Hours of the Day (and Night)

From the baker who wakes up at 3 a.m. to fry up doughnuts to the Uber driver who makes sure you get home safe after bar close, we hear from Milwaukee workers about what their jobs are like.

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1.

MORNING: Joey Carioti

CO-OWNER AND HEAD BAKER AT CRANKY AL’S IN TOSA

“I work more than 60-hour weeks. Before I met my wife, I averaged 80-hour weeks. My day starts at 4:30 in the morning, give or take. There’s been days I’ve been here at 3 a.m. Sleeping in is 5/5:30. For me, I’m going to find a positive in everything I do. I’m up before everybody else. I feel like the world is just waking up. What I love is helping people start their day off right and put a smile on their face. Old-school bakers are a dying art. Bakers who make it all will be obsolete soon because you can’t do it all. You should be that bakery that makes two or three products and kills it all. The most enjoyable part of my job by far is the customers, the community we’re in. Sick of doughnuts? I eat doughnuts every day. If I could, I would eat more than one, and there’s not one day that goes by when I don’t want one. [But] if you’d told me 15 years ago that I would be making doughnuts and pizza for a living, I would have said you’re crazy!”

Photo by Jarvis Lawson



 
 
2.

AFTERNOON: Megan Wagoner 

AQUATICH SAFETY MANAGER AT TOSA POOL IN HOYT PARK

A lot of lifeguarding is preventative. At our pool, we don’t blow our whistle if somebody is misbehaving; we have megaphones that we yell through. All of our lifeguards are constantly scanning, and when they see something, they address it right away. It’s an “excuse me, ma’am, please do x, y, z” or “hey buddy, stay on this side of the rope,” something like that. And we follow it up with an explanation of why. Sometimes you’re doing it constantly – probably over 100 times a day. But you have to remember that these are paying guests and everyone wants to enjoy themselves on a nice summer day, so the least we can do is be polite and respectful. We have so much to be paying attention to, but we practice so much during the week that it really keeps the guards focused and prepared to handle an emergency.

Photo courtesy of Tosa Pool


 

 

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3.

EVENING: Officer John Tietjen

MPD HARBOR PATROL

We listen to three different radios: our squad radio and two marine radios. One channel is for hailing and distress, and the other, the Coast Guard may call us to see if we can get somewhere to help before them. We tow boats with our two 300-horsepower engines on the back, we provide medical aid. [We also] see people without life jackets, which is a pet peeve of mine. On deck, the minimum is two officers, but ideally we have three. In the winter, we keep the boats out of the water, but we always have one ready to go equipped with ice rescue stuff. Between spring and fall we find some crazy stuff. Park benches, barrels, sometimes even live deer. People always ask if I see a lot of drunks, but there really aren’t that many. My least favorite part of the job is the cold. The best thing is on slow days when you go out a mile to look at the city. It is quiet, calm and reminds you it is a beautiful place.”

Photo by Pearl Nemecek



 
 
4.

NIGHT: Caroline Rubitsky and Paul Spencer

OWNER (RUBITSKY) AND HOUSE BAND LEADER (PAUL SPENCER) AT CAROLINE’S JAZZ CLUB

Paul Spencer: [During the pandemic], I worried about the musicians. This is how they make their living. I was worried about how’d they eat. There’s no government assistance if you’re a musician. The arts suffered.

Caroline Rubitsky: When we opened, we just had a few customers to support us. We had some scary nights. As time went on, people phoned us from all over the country. They weren’t working. They weren’t doing anything else. They wanted a place to come.

PS: There’s no TV sets. There’s no pinball machines. Here you come to listen to music. The musicians love to play here because the stage is set up like a concert.

CR: It feels good to see the musicians so happy to have a place to play.

PS: The whole time we’ve been open, not one person that works here or any customer has gotten the virus here.

CR: There are moments on those nights where people are playing and drinking and laughing, where despite all the masks, despite the empty chairs, it almost feels normal.

PS: Caroline’s future is bright. We want everyone to have the happiness we have here. We are looking for some of the other jazz clubs to be open so the musicians can have more work and get back to a normal life.

Photo by Jarvis Lawson



 
 
5.

LATE NIGHT: Dan Simmons

PART-TIME UBER DRIVER

“What’s your safe word?” asks the woman who just got into my backseat. “Mine’s foliage,” she continues in a sultry voice, grasping my right hand. It seems she’d enjoyed a few slushy margs at BelAir Cantina before hiring me.

“Well, then, I’ll go with shrubbery,” I reply after a long pause. She laughs. I laugh. She lets go of my hand so it can resume work on the steering wheel. The weird tension is broken, and the ride goes on.

Such is life driving an Uber late at night. Pretty much everyone’s drunk except, we hope, me. 

The next passenger, a guy coming from a death metal show at The Rave, is playing a YouTube clip into my rearview mirror of him shirtless at a Packers game when it was 27 below zero, then quizzing me all the way to Mequon about my thoughts on the Second Amendment. Then sorority girls from Marquette pile in, fresh from Trinity Irish Pub, exceeding my backseat’s capacity limits and demanding I crank “Don’t Stop Believin’” for a singalong. 

Of course, most rides, even this late, create no memories. Plenty of sober people Uber in the midnight hour, and even most bartime drunks behave remarkably well. If they’ve passed out between pickup and drop-off, they usually spring to attention when we’re at their house and stumble to the front door without my help. The app dings, and I wonder who I will next hoover up off the streets of Intoxiwaukee.

Photo by Getty Images


 

This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine‘s June issue.

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