Profile: Rob Olson

Voodoo Doughnuts Employee Explains What It’s Like To Work There

By Olga Kozinskiy

Voodoo Doughnuts, where the magic is in the hole, opened its third location in Eugene Ore., on June 6, 2010. Rob Olson, is an employee who was part of the original Voodoo staff. He was the sixth person hired.

Olson At The Counter

Olson is a 21-year-old junior at the University of Oregon who studies Political Science. He was born in Peru and was adopted when he was two months old. For a while, Olson and his adoptive family lived in Bend Ore. Later, they moved to a town called Harper in Eastern Ore., where his family resides now. Olson has two sister, Erin and Tammy and a Border Collie named Shep (short for Sheppard), whom he trained to herd sheep and give him hugs.

“I just whistle and Shep knows exactly what to do with the sheep,” said Olson.

He moved to Eugene because his late father graduated from the University of Oregon and later taught photography classes at Central Oregon Community College.  Olson wishes to follow in his footsteps.

Olson‘s hobbies include biking, drawing and reading.

“I’ve been drawing all my life,” said Olson, “I never really pursued it… as a career that is, but I draw and color pretty often.”

Olson’s duties at Voodoo include, running the counter, and making and decorating the doughnuts.

“I work with some of the best people in Eugene and have a great time everyday I go to work.” he said, “It’s a fun work environment, and you definitely learn a lot about people in general.”

There is a downside to working at Voodoo though explained Olson.

“It’s dealing with downtown crazies at night. There has definitely been a few instances with cops and assaults since I have worked there.”

Russell, a self-proclaimed Buddhist who liked to give the Voodoo employees gifts such as booklets, diaries, and pictures of things is an example of a few crazy nights said Olson.

“Eventually, we noticed price tags on some of the items, and figured he stole them, so we stopped taking his ‘gifts.”

One day, Russell wanted 30 doughnuts but never came to pick them up, and disappeared for weeks. He finally showed up around Christmas time arguing that he did pick up the doughnuts. From there, a hostile environment began and Russell was banned from Voodoo. However, the word did not get around to everyone and Russell kept coming.

“Last summer, Voodoo had another interesting day.” said Olson.

He and his coworkers noticed a bird sitting on top of Weezy, a life size replica of big foot.

Olson After Catching The Bird in a Bucket. (Photo courtesy Rob Olson)

“There’s a great story there,” he said. “I spent half an hour trying to get the bird out and so I thought using a bucket would work.”

Olson trapped the bird once in the bathroom but it escaped once again. Later, he was finally able to catch it against the window. A coworker just happened to have his camera and took a picture.

“Going to work is a fun experience in general. I rarely say I don’t want to go to work.”

On February 2, 2011, Voodoo was closed and all employees were put in groups and sent on a scavenger hunt all over Portland Ore., that led to a private work party. The scavenger hunt consisted of clues that would lead to another place in Portland. With each clue the employees had to do tasks. One of the tasks was at a bar called the Slammer. To get the next clue each group had to win two Connect-4-games.

“It wasn’t until later that I realized I played connect 4 with one of the creators of Portlandia.”

The last stop of the scavenger hunt was the private work party where a new health insurance plan was announced.

During the first Friday of every month Voodoo holds a doughnut eating contest.

“We mess with the doughnuts though which is something first time contestants don’t know.“ said Olson, “Instead of chocolate for example, we add something like hot sauce to the doughnuts.”

The ingredients and mystery doughnut filling is different every time but the first one to finish,  gets a free t-shirt and their picture on the Voodoo wall of fame.

In addition to doughnuts, all three Voodoo stores offer legal wedding services complete with specialty doughnuts and coffee for the reception.

Photo Courtesy: Rob Olson

“So far we’ve had a zombie wedding, a gothic wedding, a sports wedding,  and our last one was a hipsters wedding, where one of the people was dressed liked Uncle Sam.” said Olson.

“There has never been a day where I said I hate my job. You learn to love it really fast, not to mention we’re all like a family away from family. The experiences we all have had helped motivate everyone to grow as people.” he continued, “Going in you would never expect any of it. I guess you can say it has been a stepping stool of life.”

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