Edward_Pratt

Barreling out of the house recently, I had a purpose and destination in mind. I had to find a cake to bring to work for my office bake and crafts sale.

I plugged the name of a local bakery into my smart phone for directions. That’s when the trouble started.

Already agitated, I misread the map instructions, getting off the interstate one exit too early. Frustrated, I left the highway and drove into the shopping center parking lot where I thought the arrows were sending me, but it was the wrong place by at least 5 miles. I collected my senses and got back into traffic.

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I finally arrived at the bakery, fuming. You could have smoked a turkey on my head, though I was pleasantly startled all of the sugary stuff in this place. I was getting a rush. But I was still angry at myself, my phone’s mapping system and Siri for holding me hostage.

I studied the array of things in the windows. Finally, some colorful petit fours caught in my eye, those small squares of cake I'd enjoyed before.

Just then, a young woman with a kind voice and smile accentuated by two pieces of nose jewelry came over and offered to help. Her face and demeanor reminded me of a long-ago co-worker. Her voice and manner started to diffuse my anger.

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I told her my dilemma: cake versus everything else in the store. “I can help with whatever you want.” Everything was said with a smile.

She was so pleasant that I could feel my stress melting.

I pointed again at the petit fours and asked if the words were French for "small cakes." She smiled again and laughed. I looked it up later. Actually, "petit four" is French and means “small oven.” Who knew?

She agreed with me that a dozen seemed like a good option and started packing the petit fours.

A couple of minutes later, she returned with the little cakes packed in a neat little box. My frustration had gone away. This young woman had been so kind and easy to get along with. She was a step up from the young woman the day before at one of those popular, expensive coffee shops who just handed me my order and said nothing when I put money in the tip jar.

I reached over the counter and gave the bakery employee a 50 percent tip, even though the people who do what she does probably seldom get a tip. She eagerly thanked me even before seeing what it was.

A couple of days later, I was back at the same shop, about to leave, when the same clerk came over and thanked me again.

“The magic in this world seems to work in whispers and small kindnesses,” the Canadian writer Charles de Lint says. I agree.

Merry Christmas to you, Markeshia Joseph.