On an average workday, downtown Breaux Bridge can easily be described as sleepy. This is not an indictment of the town, in fact, quite the opposite, it’s a testament to the quaint stretch of the main street. Sitting under the crawfish sign that hangs on top of the bridge people quietly pop in and out of the local businesses that line the street. The only time this can be a problem is when you pull up with a camera hoping for someone to open up with you. A camera barging into a scene like this will understandably be ignored.
Slightly further up the road, however, is a different scenario. One where the lunch hour is the busiest hour and a mix of all people converge on Poche’s for one of their famous plate lunches. Here the camera isn’t ignored but actively sought after, and after being out for maybe a minute you could hear the call from across the dusty parking lot. This is how I met Kenny Zenom.
It wasn’t Kenny’s first instinct to be the subject of the story, in fact when I first walked to where I heard Kenny yelling he was locking one of his co-workers out of the building trying to force her to talk on camera. This started a solid twenty minutes of Kenny attempting to find me a story to tell, from coworkers to customers he believed wholeheartedly that everyone had an interesting story. It wasn’t until the fourth failed attempt that he realized it would be his story that would be featured. One caveat though before we work, initially he was hesitant to talk simply because he knew his friends would ask him to cut deals at Poche’s. His message to all of them, he can not get people deals at Poche’s.
The first thing you’ll notice about Kenny is his laugh. It’s a cackle that can probably be heard in the surrounding parishes, but it’s completely genuine and when you hear it you can’t help but laugh along with him. He’s been working at Poche’s for 33 years, it was his first job after high school. As he tells it he asked for the job before he was old enough to work, but was promised when he was old enough the job would be his. So he went back after a little was offered to start “today or tomorrow”. He responded, “I’d like to start right now.”
We toured the plant with Kenny as our guide and he showed us where meat is loaded and unloaded, processed, packaged, and even where it’s eventually cooked. Kenny’s worked in all these areas, but his focus started about 15 years ago and that’s smoking the meats. Giant smokers run constantly all with trays of sausage and pork all kept under Kenny’s watchful eye. We walked from room to room as he introduced us to everyone, and each room Kenny had a new joke for anyone in those rooms.
As the tour went on we talked about the importance of having a job, preferably one with good bosses. He told me about a cruise he’d recently been on, along with amusing stories and interactions he’d had with customers. When we left we could hear Kenny laughing across the parking lot as he headed back to the smokehouse, undoubtedly with more jokes for the coworkers he’d come across along the way.