The police would always come up behind me and quietly stand in my blind spot, waiting for me to notice them. I’d follow my suddenly silent pie customer’s eyes and turn to find them standing there. They were always very polite and kind but it would kill my business for that night. My line of customers, holding their own Tupperware or even dinner plates, would break away and wander off disappointed.
In the three years that I had my illegal pie cart business, Pie Fridays, the police had dropped by a handful of times but near the end, as I got better known, it became a regular thing. I had moved to a tiny little park with a big sidewalk where everyone would line up at exactly 5 o’clock each Friday along the intricate iron fencing running along the outside of the park. I didn’t get busted there for a long while and began to think that I was safe. But then the police started to come again and on my final night, Valentine’s Day, they served me with a court summons and I knew my street pie hustle was over for good.
It was a relief for me really. I was exhausted, mentally and physically. My feet were permanently swollen and burned with nerve pain from the years of standing on my feet from three in the morning to make the pies until ten at night to sell them. I had been making around sixty pies each weekend in my small apartment kitchen with no dishwasher while at the same time running and building my greeting card business. At that time my cards had been picked up by a national chain which, although it was great, added on a lot of time and pressure to my schedule. So when it ended I was ready for the break.
I had planned on opening a restaurant and did a Kickstarter campaign, but I had a nagging feeling that if I opened a brick and mortar I would have to end my greeting card business which I considered to be my life’s work. I had to make a choice, did I want to be a baker or an artist? I didn’t feel like, at the time with my limited resources, I could do both. I pulled my Kickstarter campaign and went about focusing on building my greeting card business and resting my body. I felt terribly guilty about letting down my wonderful customers who would miss their weekly pie, but they were very understanding and supportive.
My pie customers were so awesome and I still miss them. The truth is they changed me, fixed me. The black hole I had been carrying in my heart from childhood sealed up and grew warm and pink from all of their open heartedness. I had never known what it was like to be embraced by people. They’d write me thank you cards and their kids would bring me art projects. If it was a slow night they would stop by to make sure I was safe or to ask if I needed something to eat. One Friday afternoon, right before I was supposed to sell pies, my 17 year old dog Dee Dee died. I left a scribbled note saying there had been an emergency. Dozens of people called and emailed to check in. When they found out my precious girl had died they wrote me notes, emailed and visited my house with flowers. I had never experienced such an outpouring of love. It changed me and brought my defenses down, helped me to trust people. They made me think that I was good, valuable and lovable which changed the way I interacted with the world forever after. All my customers showed me that. I regret that I never got a chance to tell each and every one of them this but I am telling them now.
Thank you from the bottom of my healed heart. Thank you!!