Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Story Right Under Your Nose



My shop is located in a small town; well a city…but we must have just qualified with a mere 6,000 in population.  Last week, one of our veteran news reporters, and old Santa Claus-y figure minus the beard but double on the belly, came in the shop to find out what had happened to the donut shop across the street from us.  Honestly, I didn’t really know the scoop other than after breakfast one morning the owner took every lick of furniture and equipment out of the shop and left.  Some people had said the building was in foreclosure, a note on the door says closed for renovations, and the reporter had heard that someone wanted to buy the property from the neighboring town.  He just kept lamenting “I can’t believe we don’t have a donut shop in this town!”  Honestly, they were the worst donuts I’d every eaten.  I never bought any as there was always ceiling tiles hanging out of place over the counter and it was dirty.  Those donuts were something you politely ate when someone brought you one but they had a weird almost chemical taste.  So, yes, somehow our little town is making do over the loss of our only donut institution.  Far from me to criticize, I kept my opinions to myself and then he started to get into the real meat of his investigation…or maybe circling in on the hole of his donut.  “It seems like this town has really taken a hit, business after business closing.”  He names three, including our stellar donut shop, the other two: one is retiring and the other is defaulting on a risky loan.  I name four new stores that have opened in town in the last three months.  I told him it’s not unusual to see stores close in the summer (you see this right after Christmas too).  I told him what’s good news is that someone is coming within a month or two to fill their vacancies.  I told him that at my shop, we’re still struggling but I could see a marked improvement from last year.  I guess that wasn’t sensational enough; he waved thanks as he walked away and said he was going to go make a few more calls to find out the donut shop story.  After he left, I realized he never asked me who I was, anything about my business, or even my name!  I don’t talk a lot about it but I almost closed my business nearly 2 years ago because I was diagnosed with a rare form of head and neck cancer.  All your life you grow up wanting to be different and then you get something fairly rare and you just want to go back to being ordinary.  So, it’s not a big deal to me now as I’ve gone on business as usual.  But moments or encounters like this sort of surprise me.  Maybe I should have said something; it feels funny to me as I always think we all have troubles…why would mine be any different.  And really, the cancer is not the story; it’s what came after the cancer.  No one really wanted me to give up (though there were days where I was at peace with letting this dream go).  But my partner, family, and even customers fought for the shop and me.  I suppose I might have told him if he’d asked just one question about me.

--Lisa LeBlanc

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