It’s quiet. It’s always quiet at this time of the day. Most people are in their warm, cosy beds oblivious that shortly, too short for some, they’ll be up and about like me. Perhaps they’ll get up and shower first, or maybe they’re a snooze and roll over until they have to dash out the door kind of person.
I don’t have that luxury, but I love what I do. Though the trek is slightly more difficult on a morning like today, where you can feel the bite of the wind against your nose, leaving your face almost entirely numb except for a stinging sensation. The kind of morning where you can see your own breath.
I put my keys into the lock of a café. My café. Well, technically my grandfathers café. It’s a favourite amongst the locals. We’re all very proud. There’s only one rule, everything must be made fresh and on site. Hence while I’m here at 5’o clock in the morning.
I can’t say I’ve always loved it. I’m 27, and having to go home and get an early night while all your friends are out clubbing really puts a crimp in your social life. It’s much easier now that we all have jobs.
I start as I always do and clean the surface areas. They were cleaned last night. As a teenager I could never understand the point in cleaning it again but now it’s routine.
Then I prepare the dough. Bread, croissants, cakes and muffins, scones and other pastries. This is the second best part of my job. Some may find it tedious but I try to do something new every day. A new flavour or filling, a different shape or size, experiment with decoration and styles. I let my creativity run wild.
And the aroma, you just can’t beat the aroma which surrounds you. It’s warmth and sweetness engulfs you. Fresh bread has a very distinctive smell, it’s almost addictive. That’s what makes the early mornings worth the trouble. That, and when the creations are baked to absolute perfection. Crispy on the outside but soft and toasty on the inside.
I look at the time, nearly 7am. I’ve worked here for thirteen years, if I include my summer stints, and I’m always surprised to find how quickly time passes when I’m zoned into my work.
It’s time to open the shop.
This is the best part of my job. The customers.
Unusual, I know.
Don’t get me wrong, we get our fair share of arseholes. But for the most part, they’re all just people going about their lives who have chosen, for whatever reason, to stop here.
Perhaps the weary just want to grab a coffee and a muffin to consume on the way to work.
The early birds may stop and sit for a while with their newspapers or notebooks, a novel or a laptop and leisurely enjoy the morning before heading off to do whatever it is they need to do that day.
It might be a social occasion with a friend, or a working breakfast with a colleague.
They all come here to treat themselves and delight in, what they feel is, a sinful indulgence.
“Oh go on then” I hear quite often “I’ll be good for the rest of the day”
Maybe they will be whatever their definition of ‘Good’ is that day, and maybe they won’t. I don’t judge. I just want them to enjoy.
And let me tell you something else, these customers, they have stories.
Oh I could tell you some stories.