It was a rainy October day in Paris. In an effort to see as many different streets as possible we ended up walking a long way from our tiny apartment in a purposeful but uneducated direction. Our journey took us to the outskirts of the city and then back towards “home” down a busy street we’d never seen before. The rain was coming in splatters and we tried to keep our hopes up despite looking – and feeling – like the unprepared goofballs we were. But then it stopped, for just a few minutes. The clouds hadn’t parted, we’d just come across a market that situated a fruit stand on the curb and connected it to his store, overhead, with an awning. It was a nice break and we ended up buying some fruit.
That’s the one.
With the rain off our backs for a moment, we smiled and paused for a moment, taking in what was around us. The fruit just happened to be really good and quite inexpensive too. We weren’t looking for anything to eat but, suddenly, it all seemed very appealing.
This stand was like this wonderful little oasis in a sea of wet, loud, and unpleasant. There was a little music coming from the market it was attached to and our eyes were suddenly full of color, a stark contrast to the grey that had been following us around all day.
The best part about it? We were just suddenly, accidentally in this man’s little world. We weren’t called over or beckoned in, it was just right there at the right time. He wasn’t the only one with an awning but he was the only one that made it feel like you were all-at-once in the middle of his store. People were rushing by, just trying to make it to the next spot but, if you watched closely, everyone slowed down a bit as they passed through. Maybe they shook they hair our or brushed the beads of rain off of their coat, pausing for just long enough to recharge for a moment.
I took that picture above because this metaphor struck me the second we stopped (and I’m posting it a year later because I thought I lost the photo). This guy was doing everything right:
- He wasn’t pushy or in your face, he was just there. It was a nasty, rainy day and most people just wanted to get where they were going. He knew he had what some people wanted so he was ready when they were
- Everything was ready for you to see and buy. Outdoor markets are pretty attractive as is but that day, it looked even better.
- Instead of facing the stand outward from his market, he faced it inward, creating a little oasis. That plus the awning made it work perfectly. Even on a beautiful, sunny day his little place in the world would have been a nice change of scenery
The big take-away here? It doesn’t take much to be a welcome respite from the chaos around you. This was just another fruit stand in Paris but it’s the one I walked by (neither the first nor the last on that street) and it made an impression. You’re just another blog out there but with a little creativity and some care for the people coming through, you can be just what someone needs at just the right time.
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Oct 11, 2011