(Jerome Aucant works in Michel Flamant’s bakery / Photo: AFP)
The baker calls himself “piggish,” but admits he also has a big heart. Wearing a tank top and short-shorts as he maneuvers around the heat of his bakery, he had a serious and determined quality that one particular beggar on the street always noticed.
The baker, Michel Flamant, and the beggar, Jerome Aucant, became casual friends over the years. Each morning, Flamant would greet Aucant with a cup of coffee and a croissant for breakfast outside the bakery.
Until one day, Aucant looked through the windows of the bakery and noticed the usually precise Flamant was stumbling around, staggering and looking confused.
Flamant didn’t know it, but he was on the brink of death, as a defective bread oven had begun leaking carbon monoxide throughout his enclosed bakery.
Aucant called emergency services, saving Flamant’s life. After 12 days in the hospital, Flamant was back to work.
Only now he had a partner.
As reported by AFP:
Back at work, the baker initially offered Aucant, 37, a part-time job.
He soon realised how well the tattooed, dreadlocked homeless man applied himself.
“And I’m demanding. The work has to be done as I say and that’s that!” the white-haired Flamant said as he lined up baguettes on an oven tray. …
Flamant, whose three daughters are not interested in taking over the business, had been trying to sell it for the past two years.
Then it dawned on him to cede the bakery to Aucant for a token one euro.
“What’s more important, money or life? I don’t care about money. I’m not rich but I don’t care. I want to be free, I want to take it easy now. And also, if this makes him happy…”
Flamant has taken Aucant under his wing until September when he will retire and hand over the keys.
After that, “It will be up to him to make it work,” Flamant said. “Jerome is a hard worker and he wants to succeed. He deserves a chance.”
Aucant, who has shorn his dreadlocks, revels in his new work.
“I want to work and the hours don’t put me off,” he said.
Aucant, with little previous work experience besides occasional seasonal stints at funfairs, is fully aware of the responsibility he will be taking on.
“I have to be 100 percent on the job,” he said, adding: “Michel has given me a real gift, and now… I want to be worthy of it.”
Head over to AFP for the full story.