Durn Sugar! The answer was literally blowing in the wind, my friend, last Sunday (25/11/2012) at 5 o'clock in the morning.
The high gust speed of 50 mph was in the forecast call - we, street men, know everything about climate change; the first thing you learn on the job, which can make or break a day of trading.
In Brick Lane, under that durn bridge where my bread stall is positioned, regularly every Sunday, that morning, extra salty beef & extra chewy bagels accompanied by plastic bags & empty cans of beer were flying around because of that good durned wind!
It must had been a hell of a climate if even the Chinese noodle guys realized it was a better idea to leave,refusing to set up a tender gazebo in that turbulence. And you know the chinese traders, right? They are laborious, hardworking, disciplined, organised, not the sort of guys who give up easily.
At that moment some intrusive thoughts of self-doubt,indecision & human fragility started to roam into my mind. Let's be clear, my friend, you know how the long hours, all that standing on the job, not getting many hours of sleep, exacerbated by changeable and humid weather, can in the long run wear yourself out. Why don't we just pack up & leave? Why don't we vanish, disappearing in the wind? Who cares?
Well... some people care. I can easily think of few examples, even keeping our hordes of followers in Brick Lane aside.
-The old lady with declining eyesight who every Saturday in Venn Street, Clapham, wanders around the food stalls trying to spot our bacon & cheese turnover.
-The guy in precarious clothes who sells junk in Brick Lane and he does not miss a Sunday without taking some pastries & sweets from us.
-The elderly couple who were left disappointed after braving the morning snow in one rare occasion on Sunday when we had to skip the market.
Those experiences can be referred to the concept of gratitude. Customer service; here to provide a service; to thank, thank & thank your customers again is central. You exist for them.
It reminds me of the existentialism of Heidegger. We, as human beings, exist in an openness where our interactions qualify us and give sense & purpose to our being. That's why it would be more appropriate to use the word 'gratefulness' which implies a state, a condition in which we feel the need to thank something or somebody. Moreover, all our knowledge is intentional, because it tends to something or somebody; we cannot give value & meaning or understand ourselves without referring to other beings. Therefore, in this social openness,our customers define our business.
I would like another more generalisation: as we exist & increase our qualities in relation to others, in the same way, ingredients aquire more value in combination with other ingredients. In pastries, the use of nuts is tempting, but the match of pistachio & almond is irresistible. The same can be said for chocolate & almond. Choux pastry & creme chantilly is another classic.So on. So on.
To summarise, my friend, my stall is my being, that the wind intentionally opens for other beings, my customers, to follow.