In a heartwarming display of generosity and gratitude, French baker Michel Flamant recently sold his boulangerie to a homeless man for just €1. The man, Jerome Aucant, had previously saved Flamant from suffocating to death inside the bakery, during a fire.
Flamant admits to being a rather “piggish character”, but he’s proven that his heart is in the right place. In fact, long before his brush with death, he would greet Aucant outside his establishment every morning and treat him to a cup of coffee and a croissant. And his kindness eventually paid off on that fateful day in December when he nearly died of carbon monoxide poisoning.
“If Jerome wasn’t around that day, I would have been a goner,” said Flamant, 62, recalling that a defective oven had started leaking carbon monoxide that morning. He was asphyxiating from the odorless fumes when Aucant noticed Flamant staggering around the bakery and immediately called emergency services. It took 12 days in the hospital for Flamant to recover from the ordeal, but he survived.
Photo: video caption
Once he got back to work, Flamant offered the tattooed, dreadlocked Aucant a part-time job, and soon realised that the man was a dedicated worker. “I’m demanding,” he said. “The work has to be done as I say and that’s that!” Aucant not only managed to keep up with every order, but was also “smart enough” to take Flamant’s advice, a fact that greatly impressed the old man.
Having taken over his family bakery at age 14, Flamant was actually looking to sell the business and retire, because his three daughters weren’t interested in inheriting it. So when he realised that Aucant had potential, he decided it was time to repay the man who had saved his life. “What’s more important, money or life?” he said. “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… he deserves a chance. It will be up to him to make it work.”
Aucant is currently learning the ropes of the business and will take over from Flamant in September. “I want to work and the hours don’t put me off,” he said. “I have to be 100 percent on the job. Michel has given me a real gift, and now I want to be worthy of it.”
I thought this kind of thing only happened in movies, but I guess I was wrong. Faith in humanity restored!