I’ve been sorely lacking on introducing some of our leaders. I decided that really honest interviews might be the best way to introduce folks and share the ups and downs of life as a Clover manager. Erika is our new manager of the Longwood Medical truck. I sat down with her at Bisq and we talked holes in skulls, Lithuanian rye bread, and the feeling you get when someone you hired becomes a Team Leader.
What was your first introduction to the food industry?
I grew up in Syracuse but my family had a house on the Cape. My cousin and I would scoop ice cream every summer at Buffy’s, which was run by this 60-year-old hippie named Flash.
What brought you to Boston?
I went to St. Lawrence University and studied anthropology. When I graduated, I had an offer to enter a PhD program in and intended to take a year off before doing that, so I was living on a couch in the North End with my sister, her husband, and their 1-year-old baby.
I remember you got to go to some cool country with your program?
I focused on osteology and paleopathology, which is diagnosing the history of a skeleton. I spent a summer in Lithuania looking at skeletons, determining male/female, how old, how tall, how did they die? They had this massive medieval collection of skulls. Some of them had axe wounds. Some of them had syphilis. The way you can tell if a skull had syphilis is that it puts holes in your skulls!
What was life like in Lithuania?
It was really beautiful there, but it’s only a few decades away from being a part of the USSR. If someone asks you if you’re doing well, you’re supposed to say you’re just doing OK, because the older generation remembers the Soviet era, and if you act too happy they’ll say, “What are you so happy about?” It’s also full of hedgehogs. The main pest in Lithuania is the hedgehog, so they have these tiny 10-inch fences all over the countryside. They eat a lot of fried rye bread slathered with cheese and garlic right out of the fryer.
What do you remember from your interview at Clover?
I saw the job on Craigslist in 2013. I think I was told one date over the phone and one date over email, so I showed up on the wrong date, and there was another interviewee there too. Enzo said to us as we climbed on board, “You’re fighting for one spot” which I thought was really hilarious! I remember Manlio (who now runs CloverDWY) was there at the time, and he asked me, “What size gloves do you need?” and I didn’t know, and he looked at my hands and immediately said, “Medium!” Me and the other kid were both working East and it was crazy fast. I remember Enzo teaching me about the pickle surprise (the two pickles at the bottom of the pita.) The other kid couldn’t figure out how to cut bread, so he got moved over to do something else and I got the job. I remember going home for Thanksgiving and telling my family I wasn’t going to pursue the PhD.
What was your darkest day at Clover?
I was working the overnight at HFI. Another assistant manager (who’s no longer with us) was supposed to come in halfway through my shift and take over. She kept texting me, “I’m going to be a little bit late, I’ll keep you posted”…then a little later, “My car won’t start, be there soon!” then a little later, “I’m almost there!” Dave came in to see what was going on and I said, “Dave, she’s not coming in.” And she didn’t. That was her resignation from Clover. So I worked a 15 hour day that day, and then I worked the next day. Dave was really angry that happened.
What are the best moments for you at Clover?
Definitely anytime someone you had a hand in hiring or training becomes a Team Leader. It’s really great. I remember Enzo telling me when I was first starting out as a manager, “If you want to be a badass, hire a badass.”
If you could clone anyone at Clover who would it be?
That’s a really good question. I would probably clone Stefan. From Day 1 he’s been really honest and a really hard worker, and he’s only 19. He has said “It’s going to be OK, boss!” to me more than once.
What can we find you doing when you’re not at Clover?
My roommates and I love boardgames too much. My roommate buys a new one every week and I’m like, “We haven’t even opened some of these!” There’s one we’re playing right now called Ticket to Ride.
If Clover was a boardgame what would it be?
Ha! Chutes and Ladders!