Monday, July 25, 2011

The (un)Common Good

The rising sun paints, orange, the interior of the shop, as it sneaks through the window. One by one it plants kisses on the cheeks of the bakery patrons, eyes pinching at the intensity of its ardour. Coffee mugs move in an intricate dance from varnished wood top tables to lips for sips at breaks in conversations. Voices are hushed this early in the morning, passing between bodies leaning into each others words.

The days news lays a shadow through the center of the room, cast by a man at the window table. Power tie pierced by a gold tie pin, gleams the silver lining. Each page turn of his paper, echoes its crispness. His face gives way the thoughts rummaging around behind his eyes. At a neighboring table, a college girl sways to the music in her ears as her fingers tap the keys of her laptop.

Jangling bells, tied loose to the door handle, announce another entrance. A boy and his sister, a nappy haired teddy bear tucked under her arm. Fresh from the hive, they are bees, buzzing the ears of those settled comfortably already. Table by table, they talk to everyone, and no one, all at once. Another jangle, their mother, cell to her ear informs everyone that Uncle Joe is suspect of marital impropriety, her hands punctuating the words for the listener.

The baker, behind the glass counter displaying his delicate wares, smiles as he does to each person that graces his shop. Retrieving two cookies from a plate, he settles the storm that has blown in, then focuses on the mother. His asking gaze begs her off the phone, with a promise to finish telling the other party the story once she is "finished her business."

Her shoulders settle into the comfort of his voice and he bags her requests to take with her. Other patrons return to their conversations, easy rhythm restored to the atmosphere. People come and go, leaving ripples that stretch to the edges of this pond. The baker, finished with the customer, surveys landscape then turns the counter over to an apron clad lady and slips through a door out of sight.

Finishing my coffee, I slip my pen and notebook into my bag, place my cup on the bar and enter the world through the exit door. Heat reflects from the sidewalk and brick exterior of the building, sweat beading in seconds on my forehead as I make my way through the alley to find my car in the parking lot.

Sitting behind the wheel, allowing the cool air to wash my face, I watch as more bodies shuffle feet across the asphalt. They do not follow the path set between the buildings but congregate by the back door. Not nearly as neat as the patrons indoors, dirt coats pores of many, mismatched clothing hangs their frames. Some smoke, most sit on curbs or in small shadows cast by the dumpster or air condition unit.

The metal door yawns and the baker pushes a cart through, laden with brightly colored cakes and sweet creations he birthed just this morning, each wrapped in plastic. He wheels the cart through them to the dumpster, sharing "good morning" here and there, then unloads the burden onto a small table the garbage truck never seems to take.

He retreats to the door with the empty cart, standing as they each take one or two things from the pile until it is gone. His smile is even brighter than it was before and they respect him, so stay orderly ensuring each gets a treat. When the last one wanders off, he disappears into the shop to greet customers, make cakes or whatever the day has in store.

Releasing the parking break, I slip the car into gear and drive out of the parking lot beyond the election signs that grow along the roadside, taking a bit of his subversive smile with me for the journey.

68 comments:

Tess @ Pro-tography 101 said...

Oh wow-I love this! How cool from your point of view. Am I first today? ;)

ladyfi said...

How inspiring and heart-lifting. We need much more love and compassion in the world - and this is a great start!

Heaven said...

i feel like you are the baker sharing your poetry delights to your readers, inside the store and outside.

i love these words: One by one it plants kisses on the cheeks of the bakery patrons, eyes pinching at the intensity of its ardour.

i thought this could have been stated better *so stay orderly*

the last scene is full of compassion like these words: unloads the burden onto a small table the garbage truck never seems to take.

over-all: a lovely breakfast treat to partake this morning.

Diana Lee said...

What a great morning :)Refreshing from the the world's usual angst and turmoil. Thanks for sharing x

Brian Miller said...

thanks heaven, a fair assessment...smiles. apprec...

kaykuala said...

A baker and his wares. To peddle or to donate? Not many would go the chosen path as this baker. Great take to ponder!

David Allen Waters said...

no one creates a scene like you man, you draw us in, inspire and encourage...

bravo :)

Sue said...

I hope this is a true story! It makes me smile.

=)

lori said...

So happy to see some prose. I've missed it. Oh, I can see it all, especially his smile. I love those saints that quietly fly under the radar never caring who knows what good they do. And, I love how he is respected by those he helps *sigh* perfect, Brian. I'll be thinking about this one for a bit.
Happy Monday to you :)

Nancy said...

What a wonderful story. Just what I needed to start the week. Thanks, Brian.

"One by one it plants kisses on the cheeks of the bakery patrons, eyes pinching at the intensity of its ardour."

Great sentence!!

Mrsupole said...

This shows that rewards can come in many forms, and the gift of giving from ones heart can be one of the best rewards.

You drew us in, hook, line, and sinker with this one. Almost like a scene from an old movie, and possibly the beginning of a book. Somehow reminds me of the story, The Grapes of Wrath.

Yup, giving is a gift, and you are a giver that keeps on giving.

God bless.

Valerie said...

You brought the scene alive, Brian, and I swear I could smell that baker's shop. I'm another one who missed your prose.

Heather said...

is this true? wow, i hope so! i felt like i was there watching it with you! great stuff! enjoy your monday

Daniel said...

Very nice. After looking at CNN and being overwhelmed with hatred and negativity and pettiness, you have given me a much needed boost and reminder that we are not all bad. Thanks so much my friend.

Steve E said...

Visits to Starbucks, etc., will never be the same--grin!

I knew a place like that in Cincinnati, big hotel which fed any hungry Peeps from the back door
Homemade Bread and thick, hot bean soup. 7 days a week...

Brian, the left and right sides of your brain work SO well together, and each is far superior to most.
Thank You!

Corbie said...

Brian,
I have always thought that you are a phenomenal story teller. I really enjoyed the story you painted with your words. While I was reading, it occured to me that Alot of people would miss this kind of scene. That is a problem for us, kindness that is there but never seen. It also means that many have so much going on in their lives that they never stop to breathe and take in what wonders occur each day. Much like the mother on the phone (which being in the retail buisness drives me insane). I can learn a lesson from the many that are portrayed in your work. This is my favorite of your works. Thank you for sharing. ~Corbie Sinclair

Maggie said...

Reading this was a great way to start off my day. Very inspiring. I can still picture it in my head... *Smiles*

Natasha said...

And a good morning to you, Poet, author, word weaver. If I may be so bold to inquire...where in the world do you find the time to do all that you do? This was a wonderful glimpse into the start of your day...and I see there's another I've yet to read! Holy smokes, brother...write on!

Titanium said...

"the metal door yawns"

Your imagery is so vivid, so captivating. This is rich in detail and warmth of feeling, radiating a depth of observation that is rare indeed.

Eva Gallant said...

Each post you write is like a paining... A vivid portrayal of life through Brian's eyes.

mjshorts said...

A great story Brian.
Your words created such warm and caring images in my head - thank you.

Friko said...

a tale to warm the heart this sad morning, when bad news just keeps coming.

Mama Zen said...

Well told, Brian!

LadyCat said...

I like the idea of the ripples left by everyone. We all do create a ripple effect with our words and actions. The baker made more of a wave than a ripple with his kindness : )

hedgewitch said...

I hope this is a true story. I'd like to think there are still people like the baker(and the writer who records him) in a world that seems increasingly surreal. Enjoyed it, Brian.

Sandi McBride said...

You do have a way with words. You paint a picture without the use of a brush...delectable.
Sandi

The Bug said...

What a lovely story!

Pat Hatt said...

You always do these writes with such detail
Sending the readers into your worldly tale
As you bring a morning forth away from the usual crap
All across the map
As always enjoyed this one
Another job well done

CM said...

I agree with Sandi...no paint brush needed here!

Glad the baker gave away the day old goods. Some places I know of on purposely destroy day old goods before throwing it out to discourage homeless from dumster diving. Kinda sad, huh?

drybottomgirl said...

Thank you for this. It's just what I needed today! Hope you are staying cool....

Ed Pilolla said...

my father used to say that clarity is the most important thing in writing. he's not the only one to have said this, of course. you really do what feels like a magical job of taking the reader by the hand and introducing him or her to everyone in your orbit, inside and out. uncle joe's infidelity had me laughing out loud:)

haikulovesongs said...

i see i'm not the only one who wonders how you do so much in only 24 hours.

"The rising sun paints, orange, the interior of the shop, as it sneaks through the window. One by one it plants kisses on the cheeks of the bakery patrons, eyes pinching at the intensity of its ardour."

pure poetry within your prose. such beautiful imagery, Brian! you are indeed a masterful and magical writer. i am going to choose to believe that this is based on your reality.

thank you for starting my day and week with the warm feeling i now have. {yours was the open tab on my browser and first to be seen.} i hope that you have a day full of smiles and a week full of love.
♥ dani

haikulovesongs said...

i see i'm not the only one who wonders how you do so much in only 24 hours.

"The rising sun paints, orange, the interior of the shop, as it sneaks through the window. One by one it plants kisses on the cheeks of the bakery patrons, eyes pinching at the intensity of its ardour."

pure poetry within your prose. such beautiful imagery, Brian! you are indeed a masterful and magical writer. i am going to choose to believe that this is based on your reality.

thank you for starting my day and week with the warm feeling i now have. {yours was the open tab on my browser and first to be seen.} i hope that you have a day full of smiles and a week full of love.
♥ dani

haikulovesongs said...

i see i'm not the only one who wonders how you do so much in only 24 hours.

"The rising sun paints, orange, the interior of the shop, as it sneaks through the window. One by one it plants kisses on the cheeks of the bakery patrons, eyes pinching at the intensity of its ardour."

pure poetry within your prose. such beautiful imagery, Brian! you are indeed a masterful and magical writer. i am going to choose to believe that this is based on your reality.

thank you for starting my day and week with the warm feeling i now have. {yours was the open tab on my browser and first to be seen.} i hope that you have a day full of smiles and a week full of love.
♥ dani

Jill from Killeny Glen said...

A beautiful man this baker. I love him!
Pass it forward...

Reflections said...

Thank you for sharing your bakery wares with those in need, much more than the patrons of you shop. A beautifully expressed slice all too uncommon in the asphalt jungles we call our spaces.

DJan said...

I love this image of a baker's eye view of the world. And through your own. thank you for this, Brian. I am blessed by having read it.

Fred said...

Brain, I have to agree with so many of the others here, very inspiring piece, and yeah I can definitely see the baker/poet/storyteller connection. Excellent painting here, ripe with detail and moving the story along so nicely with your words

Katherine said...

Brian, Brian, Brian! It is 6 in the morning here is the land of OZ & yours is the first post I read. I would love to say that reading this perfect piece was indeed the most perfect way to commence my day. I now have a song in my heart!
Your eyes, your mind, your heart & your soul have a way of taking the world in & through your words sharing HOPE with your readers. You, as I have said before, are a master poet.

Goofball said...

my brother in law has a bakery. It is so sad to come by at closing time and see the left-over things.


They used to give it to a poverty shelter but due to very strict health regulations etc that's not even feasible anymore. So unless a lady pickes up some old bread for her horses, it gets dumped :(

ayala said...

You captivated my imagination and my heart. Beautiful !

Captain Dumbass said...

I worked in a bakery once, I would have like it a lot more if I could have done what your baker did.

5thsister said...

A beautiful story to end my day with. I feel as if the sunshine kissed my cheek as well for this piece warms the soul.

Travel & Dive Girl said...

Nicely done! Sorry I haven't been around much, but as usual...you make my day.

blueviolet said...

That is such a happy little day in there. :)

Myrna R. said...

This is great. I love his subversive actions. Wish we were all so radical.

Margie said...

Thank you Brian, this is a most wonderful story!
It made me smile the biggest smile :)

Magpie said...

Brian, thank you so much for sharing this morning with me. That's how it feels you know. Like you wrote it just to share with me. Of course, everyone else here feels the same way. What a wonderful feeling this left me with. I'm enjoying my own little bit of the subversive smile. :)

That Janie Girl said...

I love this, Brian.

Beautiful.

Love how he gave them the cakes...love it.

Tara Miller said...

This baker sounds like a blessing to many. You also convey a peacefulness he seems to have in his life which I would think comes from a passion to serve others both inside his bakery as well as out his back door.

I do enjoy the coffee shop (with you ;) ) - observing those coming and going as well as the fact that it's a place to make yourself at home and get connected with others.

Syd said...

I am so glad that this man has so much compassion. We do need more people who care and help.

Vicki Lane said...

You captured a lovely moment.

ds said...

I so hope this is true. Love the way you wrote this baker, his cheerful friendliness, his gentle rebuke of the cell-phone mother who was clearly giving out too much information. And his compassion. What a lovely thing to do (like the "Elves and the Shoemaker" except he is the elf). Restores my hope in humanity. Thank you.

Mijayami said...

Lovely story - the descriptive setting drew me in, the characters held me and the unexpected ending made it a great read.

And, like so many others, I do hope this was based on a true story.

Slamdunk said...

I appreciate Heaven's comment--I went back and read your work again with that in mind.

farmlady said...

I knew that with your amazing and descriptive phrasing that you could write some killer prose.
This is wonderful.. clear, perceptive and human. Please write more.

Josh Hoyt said...

This is so cool way to go. Very well done!

sharplittlepencil said...

Generosity is its own reward. What a lovely story... traces the everyday cafe routine, not unlike mine here in Madison, and ends up with that baker doing what many do, which is recognize their own good fortune and pass on what they can.

Loved it, loved it. Amy
http://sharplittlepencil.wordpress.com/2011/07/24/the-greatest-aim-of-humankind/

KB said...

This made me smile.

Tina said...

These portraits you paint are one of my favorite stops along my daily journey! Kudos.

Just Be Real said...

The way the world is heading, to find a good story in the news these days are hard to come by. This post of yours Brian is very encouraging and uplifting. Blessings.

Lorraine said...

People in the life of Brian,you are most excellent, Sir Brain

A Daft Scots Lass said...

Did you receive your parcel yet?

Daydreamertoo said...

Wonderful observations of the small things in life of people watching. Intricate, intimate and lovely

Pauline said...

one good deed can change the world - ripple effects, indeed. brilliantly told.

wolfsrosebud said...

"Retrieving two cookies from a plate, he settles the storm that has blown in, then focuses on the mother."

Great observation Brian. I felt the above was the climax of the piece. The ending told the hope of humanity. Looks like you had fun with it.

happygirl said...

A part of me really hopes this is a scene from life. I want to be the baker.

tracy said...

You see so much. You are the champion of those that other people look away from.