An Atlanta staple was preparing to close its doors. Rhodes Bakery has been in business in the Morningside community for more than sixty years. I personally love their cheese straws and birthday cakes. They are the best in the neighborhood. They announced a couple of weeks ago they would be closing this location. It was December 23rd. They would close for good on Christmas Eve. I thought I’d surprise our tech team and staff at church with some petit fours and cheese straws. The days are long and hectic for church staffs those final two days before Christmas. Apparently, all of Atlanta had the same idea.
I walk inside and the line is twenty folks deep. Their racks of savories and sweets are bare. I’m wondering how in the world will there be enough desserts for any of us. A baker from the back ambles out from the back with more cheese straws. “Who needs cheese straws?”
“I’ll take three.” “I’d like one.” “What are cheese straws? I’ll take two.” He passes out the cheese straws packets wrapped in cellophane.
I’m noticing there is one more caramel cake in the display window for sale. That’s their most popular item. The woman working the register receives the orders. “Alright, one caramel cake it is. That’s our last one.” I don’t really like caramel cake and I am devastated. The groans throughout the store are audible. She hands it to the woman in the front of the line and takes her card. The lady behind her says, “Dang it. I have been waiting in line for thirty minutes hoping to get that caramel cake. Are there any in the back?”
“Nope. Those are all spoken for.”
The woman with the cake is about to head out the door when she says, “I’d be happy to split it with you. Would that work?”
“Seriously? Yes. Please.”
“I can cut it for you,” says the worker.
She takes the cake out of the white box and slices it half and boxes up the other.
They both left with their boxes. Although there were still no cakes for the rest of us, the kindness was dessert enough.
In her book, No Cure for Being Human, Kate Bowler defines bureaucracies as “automated systems made up of people who must choose each and every day whether their job will require any of their humanity.”
And on this day, humanity was on full display and it was a treat to experience.