It takes my eyes a second or two to get used to the darkness. Inside the bakery, the blinds are closed and I’ve just walked the two-kilometre-long road along the beach under the midday sun.
I scan the baskets in front of me. All empty.
“Do… do you have bread?”
Granted, non is a complete sentence. The meaning is clear. Non, there is no bread. However, this is not apologetic or understanding non. In fact, the tone implies “are you stupid? You are standing in front of a row of empty baskets!” rather than “absolument désolée, we ran out of baguettes.”
Fuck, I need bread.
“Will you bake more bread today?”
Inside my naïve heart, I’m almost expecting her to add “…but wait, let me check with the baker.”
She doesn’t. She stands here behind the cash register. I wish I could give her the three euros I had prepared to buy the bread. I even had the exact change! I was coming as a friendly customer, one who appreciates good bread and who pays with fifty- and twenty-cent coins.
Between us is a window display full of fancy cakes—Paris-Brest, millefeuilles, éclairs, religieuses and even a few tartes tatins and kwouin-amans. But my eyes don’t wander away from the empty baskets. I am a woman with a mission.
This is my last bullet.
“Do you know where I can buy bread?”
Why did I even ask, oh, pouquoi?
Fine. I’ll go to the supermarket, then. I’m sure Unico has a few baguettes left. They are thinner, harder and flour-free (I love flour on bread…) but at least, I won’t feel like I’m buying cocaine from a drug dealer.
Why, oh why are shopkeepers so unfriendly toward tourists?
Today, Feng, Mark and I walked on the main street. Feng and Mark bought churros; I wanted a cold drink. We passed a small épicerie and by chance, it was open—a fairly rare occurrence on a Sunday afternoon. I stepped inside, happy to see there was a fridge full of cold cans waiting to be drunk. I picked a Coke Zero and brought to the cash register.
“I’m glad you’re open!” I said happily while looking for my change. “It’s very convenient.”
“Ah bon, vous trouvez?”
… Yes, I think so.
She took my coins without a word, her eyes on another customer grabbing a can from the fridge.
Finally! A friendly word!
Oh, wait. That was Mark echoing my goodbye.