The Beacon sat down for a Q&A with Mack’s Market’s Brenda Wiley, who has been working for Bon Appetit at the University of Portland for over 15 years. You can find Wiley ringing up groceries in Mack’s Market weekdays from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
How long have you worked at the University of Portland?
I’ve been here for 15 years. I started here because my mom worked here before. I worked here back in the 80s for two years and then I came back 15 years ago.
In your 15 years here, you’ve probably seen and heard a lot. What was it like seeing the Pilot House change?
The change was good. We needed it. I think the most amazing thing about working here is the students. Meeting them and having them around for four years. A lot of them come back and see you, which is awesome. I try to keep up with all of them and what they’re doing.
What did you do before you started working here?
I worked at Dotties, which is like a deli with video poker. It was on 181 St. and Halsey.
What is your favorite aspect of working at Bon App?
My coworkers. They’re awesome. I am easy to get along with, but I’ve never had a problem with any of them. And I’ve never had a problem with the students. It’s been great. It’s wonderful. It really is.
What is the hardest part about your job?
I don’t think there is really any. When we’re busy it makes time go by fast. Maybe when it’s real slow. But there’s really nothing. I love my job. I used to work out here, as a cashier in the Pilot House, and to go into the store, it’s really different. You have to remember everything.
I went to the old Mack’s Market when it was here on Willamette. There was one that was one block off of Portsmouth. That’s where they got that old Mack’s Market sign from that’s in the store now. The students would always go over there.
Have you seen anything crazy in your time here? There’s got to be a story or two.
When (our stoves) blew white stuff for extinguishing fires all over. It took the whole day to clean up, because everything was just covered in white. This was when it was the Cove. It was maybe five or six years ago. I’ve seen a lot of people come and go. A lot of people.
Do you have any favorite students?
Yeah. I have a couple that left. Pooh Jeter, he used to be a basketball player, and he came back to see us after he went to another country. Another gal was here two years ago and she’s still my favorite. She came back last weekend. I get close to people really easy. I love the students.
What is life like when you’re off-duty?
I live with my husband. I have 10 grandchildren, a great-grandson and three grown kids. I spend a lot of time with my mom, because my mom has adopted three kids and she doesn’t drive, so I take her where she has to go, Christmas shopping, school shopping (and) everything.
Do you have any pet peeves while in the Market? Stuff that students could improve on?
They’re pretty good, they really are. (But) people say, ‘There’s got to be something.’ Years ago, I had a kid come in and he was eating something and he left it on the table for like an hour so I picked it up and threw it away. And he got really upset and started screaming at me, but that’s the only time.
For the first five years I worked here, I worked until 2 in the morning, and so when the kids would come from the bars and stuff, drinking, I never had any problem. None. I never did. People around here are very special. I never had any problems, even with the pub crawls.
What’s your favorite food to eat at the Pilot House?
I like their fish and chips.