By Johnny Magdaleno.
At Mission Pie in San Francisco, owner Karen Heisler prides herself on empowering people under 25 with entry-level careers in a sustainably sourced bakery. One of her hires: a 19-year-old from Bayview-Hunters Point, a low-income neighborhood southeast of the city center. The teen was brought on as an associate baker and tasked with showing up to work at 5 a.m.
Getting to work that early from her neighborhood proved to be a struggle. Her commute was marred by late buses and long rides. Still, Mission Pie gave her a chance, and soon she was generating enough of an income to start hashing out plans to move out of her parents’ house and closer to her work in the city’s Mission District.
But she was never able to secure a cheap enough room nearby, and despite being on the path for a promotion, she eventually had to quit because she couldn’t rely on the Bay Area’s public transit operators to travel from her new apartment in Fairfield, an area northeast of Oakland that offered affordable rentals, to San Francisco in time for her starting hour.
“With service jobs, there’s not a lot of leniency around arrival times,” says Heisler. Even though Mission Pie has helped subsidize commute costs for workers living in areas off the public transit grid, clocking in before dawn is a must to give the bakery enough time to prep the day’s baked goods. “The baking has to start when the baking has to start,” she says.