Thursday, December 29, 2011

The cookie that made me happy today

Work has been very dull this week and the time goes by very slowly with only a couple of people in the office. After work today I had a doctor's appointment, all in all it has been a very dull week. I left the doctor's office this evening and headed to take the Metro home when I walked by an Au Bon Pain. I am not proud to admit this, but I saw a photograph of a cookie on their sign out front and immediately diverted my course into the restaurant in search of the cookie on the sign that I was determined to make mine. It was an instantaneous reaction and sudden realization that I could not live one minute longer without having one of these cookies. The advertisement was for two new filled cookies - one was two sugar cookies with chocolate hazelnut filling between them, the other was called Florentine with Caramel Creme. It was the sugar cookies with hazelnut that derailed my original plan to go home, so I sought one out and put it in a bag to take to the cashier. While carrying out my mission, I couldn't help but notice the Florentine with Caramel and that was looking even better but I have no idea what kind of cookie that is. It looked a bit like gingerbread so I was not willing to take my chances. I have to be in a certain kind of mood to enjoy gingerbread and I haven't been in that mood for several years.

I took my impulsive cookie purchase up to the friendly cashier and asked her about the florentine cookie. She was not a native english speaker, so we had a bit of a communication problem at first. I asked:

What is the florentine cookie like?

She responded: Yes, we have them. They are over there.

Yes, I saw them over there, but what do they taste like? [she looked very confused by this point, so I go with another choice of words] What flavor?

She says, "Oh, you can try one."
Me: "Oh - no, no. I don't know if I would like them, I'm just curious what they are like."
She says, "Try it."

Suddenly I am the one looking confused because I'm not sure how I am supposed to try the cookie when I don't see any samples or understand how I am supposed to do that. I respond as I usually do in awkward social situations, with an attempt at humor, "Just go up, take a bite and put it back down? Haha."

Completely serious, she says, "Yes."

And I don't know what to do. Certainly it can't be Au Bon's policy to allow people to sample the food and if it is, I suddenly have second thoughts about purchasing their baked goods from now on. But she sees I am confused, "No, don't put it back. But try one. If you don't like it, you can throw it away and I won't charge you for it." (but remember, she had an accent so it sounded much cooler, like "...throw eet avay...")

For some reason, this was a very difficult task for me. First of all, I wasn't ruling out the possibility that there was a language barrier miscommunication happening here, although it sounded pretty clear that I had her permission to take a cookie off the shelf and take a bite. Still, I couldn't walk over there. I had to take a step, turn around... "I'm going to do it." She smiles, "Okay." A couple more steps, "Seriously, I'm going to take a bite." She is now laughing at me, "Do it!" So I grab the Florentine with Caramel Creme and I take a bite and it was not like gingerbread at all. It was like sweet heaven. "Ooh, that is good! Thank you for that, I will take this one, too." And now I am buying two cookies because even though I was completely over the hazelnut, I already had one in my bag. She rung me up and said, "It is my New Year's present to you." and I'm pretty sure she didn't charge me for the second cookie.

I love this woman.

I know this is a silly story and over the course of a lifetime, we all touch the lives of others temporarily and everyone has a few anecdotes like this one where an everyday transaction is turned into a truly pleasurable experience. This was the best thing to happen to me all week. After waiting 15 minutes in the cold for a bus that was late, then another 15 minutes in a doctor's office waiting room, I was accustomed to being ignored. The cookie was such a small gesture, but this interaction with the Au Bon Pain employee brightened my day. Of course, a free cookie will often do that, but it was more than that - the whole interaction was a bit silly, between me thinking it was a miscommunication, to my natural inability to violate everyday decorum and take a bite off of something without clear intention to pay for it. It was fun. I had fun with her. Not to mention, that was a magically delicious cookie.

I thought about not mentioning the specific name of the restaurant because it did occur to me that she could possibly get in trouble for giving away a free cookie. But in the unlikely event that the Au Bon Pain corporate people happen to read this blog, I think they will understand the value of giving away one cookie when it results in someone telling anyone who will listen what a fantastic day she is suddenly having thanks to one kind person at an Au Bon Pain location. Even if it is a grown woman who doesn't know what florentine cookies taste like, yet allows photographs of baked goods dictate her every move. Yep, that's me in a nutshell. Mmm... nuts sound delicious right now. Gotta go, thanks for reading!

1 comment:

Paul said...

How can they not have a picture of this cookie on their website?!