The baker behind the counter looked terrified, ‘Sir you are not allowed on this side’.
‘Oh I am just going to write a greeting on the cake in Arabic’ I replied with a smile.
‘I am afraid my manager is going to …’ ‘You can’t enter this area. It is unsafe for customers to walk here’. A stalky boss figure rudely interrupted the conversation. I complied as I explained myself, ‘Sure, sure, I am just trying to help with the writing on the cake’. The manager pulled his staff to the inside portion of the bakery as I stood there. He lashed out at them. It was a horrible slumping feelings. I could the three young bakers faces drowning in this sudden unexpected event.
As the manager returned form the inside of bakery, I was ready to scream at this man. How dare he treated these workers in a manner befitting animals. I told him that it was not their fault. I crossed the line and went beyond the counter. The man walked passed me mumbling something about people could get hurt and the staff needs to do their job.
It felt awful. This was supposed to be a postwedding cake for my niece to celebrate her wedding. The girl behind the counter told me that she could mimick Arabic writing on the cake if I wrote it on a piece of paper. She told me that she had previously done it in Hindi. Since I was not allowed to get behind the counter and write myself, I complied with her offer. She wrote it beautifully in Urdu- see above. I took the cake and went straight to the manager and told him how great service the bakery had provided and that he must be real proud of his team. I kept going and kept praising the young bakers. Nobody has ever done this for me. They went out of their way to make my day. All of the sudden, there it hit me that I had to make their day not with empty lip service but with something tangible. I went back to the bakery and asked to shake the hands of each of the bakery for the Best Arabic Calligraphy Performance at ShopRite. As they approached me, I gave out the biggest tip of my life. The bakers smiled and hesitantly said ‘we are not sure if we could accept it’. I laughed and said, ‘I like to micromanage people whenever I give out tips’.