VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --
If you’re a young officer like myself, or a new Airman with a large appetite, or maybe just someone who appreciates a hot meal in the middle of the day, you are very familiar with the dining facilities on base. Specifically, Breakers.
While most of us hurry in and out to get back to our daily missions of the Air Force, those of us who have had the privilege of getting to know some of the staff have, at some point, come across Liz Ajello.
Liz is a cashier who is often seen working many other jobs to help out in the Breakers dining facility.
“The best part about this job is interacting with the people,” Liz recalls when asked about her position. “We all have something in common. We all serve the troops. So it’s different than working in a regular food establishment.”
I stood behind Liz as she pushed buttons faster than I could read what they said. She has the uncanny ability to run through a line of 20 Airmen in a few minutes. There are 16 different categories for food, with eight to a dozen or more items per category. Liz was able to memorize where everything was in the system, noting that, “it’s just like a typewriter.”
When asked what kind of food most people get, Liz recalled that, “some people like to be a little good, and a little bad,” Liz explained.
“They’ll compromise. They can go grab a Thai chicken bowl, then get a cookie!”
From what I saw, it appeared that baked chicken was the most popular meal. Good to know that Team Vandenberg is eating healthy. I didn’t see a single person buy ice cream – that leaves more for me.
So what kind of hours can you expect as an employee at Breakers? Your alarm clock might be set as early as 3:30 a.m., and you will be cooking by 5:30 a.m. For someone like Liz, it’s all worth it to serve her beloved Airmen. If you see her putting in hours the next time you pile on baked chicken, or ice cream, make sure to say, ‘hello!’ You’re likely to hear some quirky remarks such as, “that will cost you 230 cents,” or, “you did well, today! Only $3.40!”
For a while, I thought I was special since Liz always greeted me when I walked in, and from our daily conversations, knew so much about my personal life. But I quickly found out that she is personable on a massive scale. Remembering not only the names of those she serves, Liz can instantly recall the activities, interests, challenges, and goals of professional and personal lives. A quality that one might look for in a good leader.
Liz reminds us that from all ends of the base, service before self is a core value to uphold. “Being the daughter of an ex-military father,” she explains, “It’s easy for me to understand the challenges of the military since I experienced them myself. I appreciate those who serve.”
Well, Liz, let me publically remind you that we as Airmen appreciate loving people just like you.