Einstein’s Bros. Bagel general manager reflects on 15 years

Sandra Hurley has dedicated much of her life to working with Einstein Bros. Bagels as an employee for the last 15 years at Western Kentucky University. Hurley said she has always enjoyed seeing the students at WKU grow up and graduate.

Michael Dylan Payne

Sandra Hurley wakes up before the sun has risen everyday to go to work on a college campus, pouring coffee and making bagels for the over 15,000 faculty members and students who call the university home during the academic year.

Hurley, manager of Einstein Bros. Bagels, has lived this reality for nearly 15 years, starting her morning during the work-week many times before the sun comes up, rushing to campus to prepare the restaurant for opening at 7 a.m.

“I like my job, I love the people I work with, and I’ve made a lot of really good friends here that are my family now, because I don’t go home that much,” Hurley said.

Hurley moved to Bowling Green in 2000 with her husband, who worked for General Motors building Chevrolet Corvettes, a job from which he’s since retired, she said.

“Believe it or not, I had a hard time getting a job down here,” Hurley said. “A lot of the spouses of people who worked at the Corvette plant, people thought those spouses didn’t need a job.”

Hurley went to a temporary agency to get a job and the man who hired temp workers asked why she needed a job if her husband worked for General Motors.

“I got very offended by that, because I’m a very independent woman,” Hurley said. “I looked at him and said, ‘I’ll go home and get my bills and you can tell me if I need to work.’ So I left there.”

Hurley said, before she met her husband and sometimes afterwards, she’s always worked two jobs.

“In my entire life, I never had a problem getting a job, until I moved here,” she said. In 2006, six years after they arrived, Hurley was preparing to go on vacation to visit family and she told her husband that if she didn’t get a job today, that she was done — not with their marriage, but done living in Kentucky.

“In the six years I’d lived here, I’d never applied for Aramark,” Hurley said. “I applied that day and they hired me on the spot.”

This is not the first time the two had moved away from her Delaware home, a place that means everything to her, Hurley said.

In 1994, Hurley married her husband and they moved to Louisiana for his job, living there three years before coming back home to be close to her mother.

Her mother died shortly after moving back to Delaware, and three years later, they found themselves in Bowling Green, Hurley said.

Hurley loves and always will consider her home to be in Delaware, but with tears welling up in her eyes, said that she gets a peace in Bowling Green that she didn’t have back home.

“I’ve calmed down a lot since I’ve moved here, and I was kind of wild,” Hurley said. “My sister said ‘it’s a good place for you,’ and I agree.

Sometimes Hurley feels like she is at home away from her home and has bonded with students who are experiencing the same fear and anxiety she experienced when she first moved here.

“When I first started here, I started in Java City and there was this little girl that came through and we talked every day,” Hurley said. “She made me a homemade card that I still have, and I’m

crying, I’m sorry, but I touched her.” Hurley was briefly overcome by emotion when describing how special it felt to have known she had impacted someone else’s life.

“She said, ‘You made me feel like I’m at home because my family is so far away, you cared about me, you worried about me,’ and that card really made me feel good,” Hurley said. “I still got it in my little box with my special stuff.”

While it is great making connections with people that impact lives forever, we cannot forget that the reason we’re here is to serve a purpose, Hurley said.

“My staff here is awesome and personable, and I hope we don’t get anyone that isn’t happy because it really bothers me,” Hurley said. “We only have a job because people come in and buy stuff, some people don’t understand that concept, but we do.”

As for retirement, Hurley says it’s something she hasn’t considered.

“I’m not gonna retire until they tell me ‘Sandy, it’s time for you to go,’” Hurley said. “They’ll have to push me out the door.”

Michael Payne can be reached at mi- [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @mdpayne_.