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Putting The Pain Into Pain Au Chocolat

, , , , | Right | June 16, 2021

It’s my first day in a bakery. I am given a tour and a quick brush over everything and then the manager teaching me decides I am to try to serve the next customer. Great! Let’s get started, right?

My first-ever customer is the most snobbish and stuck-up man you can imagine; he orders from the tips of his lips with great disdain, looking down his nose, turning his body away. I keep smiling and remain friendly because he’s my first customer — let’s be positive!

I pack his order: one pain au chocolat. I make the receipt and try to escort the customer back to the till, carrying their purchase, which is the routine I have been taught.

The customer is ignoring me.

Me: “Sir, it’s this way; please follow me.”

I am speaking increasingly louder, thinking maybe he’s hard of hearing. I’m fully extending my free open hand in the right direction. I have to repeat myself three times before he finally decides to move, without a word, and he gets ahead of me, leading the way himself.

I drop off his pain au chocolat bag and let the cashier know it’s for this customer. He acknowledges me with a nod and a thumbs-up. All good. I turn back to the customer:

Me: “All right, sir, your purchase is with our cashier right there.”

I extend my arm, with my hand fully open to point the way, two metres away only. The man is now looking at me with eyes wide and mouth slacked, and he still won’t say a word. I don’t know if he’s confused, shocked by something, or just not understanding me, but it’s awkward.

Me: “Whenever you are ready, we are.”

He still won’t move or say a word.

Me: “So, thank you for shopping with [Bakery], and have a nice day!”

I took a few steps back, turned around, and left, not knowing what else I should have done. From the corner of my eyes, I saw the customer go, “Hmmpft!” and stomp out. I figured he’d bought his things and just could not suffer us any longer and had to make a show of going. 

I didn’t think about this anymore until a good thirty minutes later. I was in the back, about to leave, when a coworker brought back a bag asking, “What’s this?!” acting all confused. I recognized it; it was the pain au chocolat of my first customer!

He had no idea whose it was or who’d made the bag — despite the receipt on it having my name — nor how long it had been there. All other employees were gathering and going, “I don’t know.” I tried to interject to say it was me and ask what happened but, again, no one seemed to see or hear me.  

I went home, seriously questioning if I had suddenly become invisible.

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