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The Women Who Ran The Bakery

The Women Who Ran The Bakery

Hello and good day!

I visited a bakery during a road trip a while back.

I don't remember exactly where we were or how long ago it was.

The mind is a funny thing.

You don't think about a particular memory for a long time and then all of a sudden it makes its way to the surface from deep in the recesses of your memory bank.

In a flash, you can see the entire scene in your mind's eye as if the whole thing just happened yesterday.

I remember walking into the bakery and seeing that there was a little breakroom off to the left of the front door.

The breakroom door had a window that you could look into and when I looked in, I saw six women sitting around a small table eating lunch together.

They were all wearing white aprons and black pants and their white aprons were dusted with off-white colored flour.

Two had grey and black, salt and pepper hair.

One was blond. One had dyed her hair red orange.

And then there were two with nice, thick, brown hair.

Despite the differences in color and style, each had their hair flattened down and made somewhat wild and stringy by those tall baker's hats that bakers wear.

While they ate, each left their white baker's hat in the middle of the table.

The owner greeted us when we walked in.

He was a tall portly man with a Mediterranean accent and a thick black mustache.

It smelled wonderful, like fresh baked bread.

There was a long glass case with a wide selection of pastries, sweet and savory, and behind the counter there were swinging double doors that led back into the kitchen.

The place was packed and there was a rumbling ambient noise of people chatting, coffee cups knocking on wooden tables, cutlery clanking, and Frank Sinatra crooning softly on the sound system.

"Hello my friends. Take a seat anywhere and order at the register," said the owner.

I didn't realize that he was the owner at first. I found out a couple of minutes later.

I nodded and we turned right, down an aisle, towards an unoccupied booth.

That's when I heard him knocking on the breakroom door.

Even back then, before I got into writing, I had a hunch for sensing when a good story was about to unfold.

My family walked ahead of me, and I drifted back towards the glass case, where I pretended to browse the selection.

The owner knocked once more.

No answer. He knocked again. Again, no answer.

Instead of knocking a fourth time, he took the initiative and opened the door.

Now I discovered why he had wanted permission before entering.

"What in the hell do you want Gus! We're on our break in here!" yelled one of the women.

"If we wanted you to come in, we would have answered when you knocked!" yelled another.

"I have your paychecks," said poor Gus.

Now the women began to applaud.

"Well come in then already," one said.

A few moments later, after enough time had elapsed for the checks to be distributed, one of the women sent old Gus on his way.

"We're still on our break Gus. Scram!"

Gus came out looking both beleaguered and contented.

He closed the door behind him.

To me he looked as if he had spotted something good in that little room, despite the rough treatment.

He walked up next to me near the glass case.

"Any questions?" he asked.

"Just looking," I said.

We stood next to each other in silence for a few moments.

He was lost in thought, and I was watching him.

"That's a pretty tough crowd in there," I said.

"You don't know the half. Five of them have been together for more than ten years. I'm the owner but they are the real bosses here," said Gus.

"Good team?" I asked.

"Unbelievable team. The hardest working group of women. Amazing bakers. They make everything you see in the case. All of these customers are here because of them. It's not because of me, believe me."

"It looked like you were smiling when you came out, even after all the yelling," I said.

"You saw that? I'll tell you why. Something good is happening in there."

"What is it?"

"They are a great team, but they are overworked. None of them can go on vacation because we're packed all the time. I try to hire new bakers to help them, but these women chew each one up and spit them out. Nobody can live up to their standards."

"You said five of them have been together for ten years. I saw six at the table when I walked in," I said.

"That's right. I think they finally found somebody they like," said Gus.

"Why do you think that?"

"Because she's been in there eating with them every single day this week."

"Others don't eat with them?"

He shook his head.

"No. They don't feel welcome."

"What's different this time?" I asked.

Gus looked over his shoulder, back towards the breakroom.

Then he turned back to me.

"She's humble. She wants to learn what the others know, and she is willing to follow instructions. She is winning them over with her good attitude."

Just then, the breakroom door opened, and the six women came walking through the front of the bakery.

They were tightening apron drawstrings behind their backs and adjusting baker's hats on top of their heads.

"Look alive Gus!" called out the tallest of the group, a broad-shouldered woman with red hair.

She took off her hat and swatted Gus on the back of his shoulder.

A serious look came over Gus's face.

"I must get back to work now. They won't like to see me standing around chatting. Enjoy your meal," he said gravely.

The women walked single file through the swinging double doors behind the counter, back into the kitchen.

Gus began to bus tables.

I made my way back over to my family and we enjoyed a very fine meal.

The food was top shelf all the way.

I don't think that these stories stick with me just for fun and games and entertainment. I think it is because of the lessons contained therein.

If you ever find yourself joining a tight knit team comprised of strong personalities, the key to winning them over will be humility.

Humility and a strong effort are undeniable.

Thank you so much for your time today.

I hope that you have a truly blessed day!


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