Marcus Grant | Managing Editor
The low murmur of voices filled Grandma’s bakery, bouncing off the bright orange walls. Adrien was used to the rush of people, not missing a beat as they came in, one after the other. Today wasn’t any different.
“Do you truly expect me to pay for this?” An elderly woman looked down at the cake he was boxing. It was white with small edible flowers lining the sides. “It looks atrocious.”
He fought the urge to yell. “Ma’am, this is what you requested.” He picked up the order card and read it out to her. “Vanilla cake with white, vanilla buttercream and colorful accents. No food coloring.”
“I didn’t ask you to throw a garden on top of it. This is for my daughter.”
Adrien’s face fell flat as he put the box on top of the counter. “How did you expect us to decorate the cake without using food coloring. Now, will that be cash or card?” “I am not paying for this; it’s not what I wanted.”
“Then I cannot give you the cake ma’am.”
The old woman didn’t like the response as she began yelling various insults at the boy. Grandma came out of the back, drawn by the noise. Noticing her, the old woman directed her comments toward her, until Adrien eventually reached for the white box and hurled in her direction. Frosting and pastry covered her pants and shoes and the surrounding floor.
And that’s how he ended up in the back of the shop, covered in flour and sugar, the feeling of buttery air never truly leaving his skin. It was nice, though. Not having to interact with the customers who always found something to be upset about: the prices, the decorations, the way their message was frosted on top, whatever it was.
“Do you like working here?” His mother stood in the doorway to the kitchen, bringing a basket of the day’s leftover bread to the back.
“I’m still here; aren’t I?”
His mother walked to him, brushing some flour off his cheek. “But you don’t like it. You don’t have to work here, you know. Your uncle could use your help at his shop if you wanted to do that instead.”
Adrien shook his head. He felt bad that his mother had to work up front now - her passion was for baking and she gave it up just so he could feel some peace. “I do like being here. I like being around you and Grandma and the others. And I like baking for the most part. I just don’t like that the customers don’t treat us right. They don’t even see us as people.”
“Oh, Adrien,” She pulled him in for a hug, the smell of sweet perfume and wheat sticking to her clothes after a long day. “Have you tried to actually get to know any of our customers? At least the regulars?”
“Then you can’t judge them, sweetie.” His mom looked over at the unfrosted cakes sitting on the shelf to be frosted in the morning. “You know, people are a lot like the stuff we make here. Some of them have hard outsides with a colorful inside like a pie. Others have beautiful outsides with layers you need to get through to understand who they are. Kinda like a cake. And some are like the burnt crumbs we have to throw out at the end of the day.” She chuckled to herself, shaking her head. “You never truly know unless you get to know them though.