At a store in Brussels I’m looking to get a sandwich for lunch. The vendor greets me with “Bonjour” and a smile. He proceeds to give me the menu, then encourages me to have a seat as I wait for my turn, and decide on what I’d like to have.
It was my first time at this store. It’s tiny, but seemed to gather a lot of interest and appreciation from people.
You can see the tens of different cheeses in various colours and shapes through the display window in front of his workstation. There are also fruits and handwritten banners saying you can order milkshakes for 3 euros. I also see a banner asking us to not leave without cheese, because “The cheese is the gift.”, it notes.
At a table in front me is a group of young Americans raving about the sandwiches they just had and thanking their host for bringing them to this store.
Every few minutes I’ll hear the bells, hanging through the ceiling, jingle as the entry door opened and slammed over them.
My turn finally came, I ask the seller to suggest me his top picks. He gives me two suggestions, one with hard and one with soft cheese. He points me to a beautiful ball of soft cheese decorated with cranberries!
“It looks amazing”, I thought.
He then points me to a piece of hard cheese as well. He proceeds by giving me a thin slice of hard cheese so I could try it. I told him I’d take the hard cheese suggestion he gave me. He then asked,
“Are you sure? When you’re happy, I’m happy.”
At the sound of that, my eyes lit up. A stranger cares of my happiness?
“I don’t know if it will make me happy, it is my first time here. I’d know when I try it.”, I replied.
He then said, “This is just my suggestion, but please choose whatever you want. I want you to be happy. I want you to smile.”
Seeing how much he wanted me to be happy, I decided to go for something else, a weird combination I saw in the menu. A mix of spicy hard cheese, soft cheese, chorizo, apple slices and honey! I thought to myself as I ordered it, “This combination sounds so weird, I am not sure if I’d even like this or it will make me happy as he asks me to be but I want to try something new.”
He meticulously crafts the sandwich and all the newcomers are carefully staring at the process through the display vitrine. I decided to take a seat.
“It’s ready!”, he says and I stand. It is a take away, I need to catch my flight soon.