For the past six years, I’ve worked at the Smoothie Bar @ the Forks. You may think to yourself “Level entry employment at a juice shack for that long? How pathetic.”
Well, I’ve also been in school, and I’ve had other jobs during this time frame.
But I don’t really feel the need to defend my employment history. Working at the Smoothie Bar, and more importantly, being a part of the Forks Market family has been one of the most significant learning experiences of my life.
I used to think of this popular Winnipeg tourist destination as that place Mom forces me to go when Baba needs her fix of chocolate pancakes on senior-discount Sundays.
I’ve learned to understand the Forks, and its importance to the City of Winnipeg, as more than just the provider of my paycheck and my Baba’s pancake problem.
People don’t just come here for the big stuff like celebrating Canada’s birthday, kicking off the New Year, or listening to live music during APTN’s Aboriginal Day Celebration.
The Forks caters to the everyday stuff too: taking our kids to dance or theatre lessons, checking out the different cultural and family events in the Market, and picking up a snack of our favorite chocolate banana bread pudding from the bakery.
Sometimes, on a slow winter’s day, when the river trail is too cold to skate for even the bravest of Peggers, and there are no concerts, kid’s camps, or craft sales taking place in Centre Court, I dream up sitcom scripts about the Forks Market and all of its tenants.
There are never any shortages of real life characters to draw inspiration from: The busker that plays only Bob Marley tunes; the maintenance guys who perpetually get in trouble from their bosses for leaning up against tenants counters to discuss the latest Forks Market gossip; and the girls at the coffee shop who wear baggy, pants, knitted hats, and know all the details about Winnipeg’s underground music scene.
Beyond the employees that I get the pleasure of seeing on a regular basis (and who are often the subjects of my twisted plots involving elicit Market romances), the best part about working at the Forks is the new people that I get to meet.
Some of my favourite chance encounter have happened while I’ve been sitting behind the Smoothie Bar counter, working away on a Women and Genders Studies essay, or watching an episode of HBO’s Girls.
One time, some man stopped by my work for a power-packed protein smoothie with his running group. He ended up staying for an hour to discuss the spiritual healing powers of jazzercise. His well-researched points were convincing. To this day, the weird combination of free-form dance and intense aerobic instruction is one of my favourite extra-curricular activities.
There’s this other woman who visits the Smoothie Bar every Sunday morning and orders a green tea shake. She always asks me how I am, and how my programs going, and if I broke up with that loser who was treating me poorly the week before. I think of her as my Sunday psychologist, and weekends wouldn’t really be the same without her.
I’ve also had my fair share of celebrity encounters while working at the Forks. Most recently, Tegan and Sara, Andrew Ladd, and a whole gang of UFC fighters on a mission to find gluten-free protein.
Jake Shields (right) and other UFC fighters stocking up on protein before their big fight
Tegan for Tegan and Sara stopping by the Forks before a big Juno event
While I don’t plan on making a career out of blending-up fruit beverages for Forks Market patrons, I know that this cultural hub will play an important role in my life long after I’ve progressed beyond level-entry employment.
Even though the Forks is Winnipeg’s most popular tourist destination, us locals should make an effort to stay in touch with such an important part of our city’s culture.
Net time you’re looking for a fun weekend activity, don’t overlook the Forks. At the very least, they’ve got really good chocolate pancakes and amazing service at their smoothie shack.
Check out there easy-to-navigate website for event details: