Christmas Special: A Fresh Baguette
Twas the Month of Celebration and all throughout Neopia, thousands upon thousands of Neopians were preparing for the Day of Giving. The holidays can be a very hectic time for Neopians, especially for this particular Neo-citizen who was anxiously waiting for the Bakery Shop to restock some Fresh Baguettes.
The Neo-citizen thought it was peculiar that The Bakery was completely sold out of Fresh Baguettes. They usually stocked in bundles of twenty with lots of leftover after a restock, yet there was none to be seen. All the Breadmaster said to the agitated Neo-citizen was, “Come back in 15 or so minutes.”
Feeling his ire rise up, he begrudgingly obeyed the shopkeeper. As he walked out of the store, he happened to see a green-haired petpet impatiently waiting for the restock too. Ignoring the petpet, he exited the shop all the while ensuring none of the flour around the vicinity would mess up his outfit - he even retrieved a handkerchief out of his pocket to open the door.
Walking along The Neopian Marketplaces’ stone-bricked road, the Neo-citizen made sure to avoid the poor, unfortunate souls waiting in line at The Soup Kitchen. From afar he saw a Kacheek wearing only one shoe, a Kougra fiddling his paws while patiently waiting for his meal, and a Mynci shivering in the cold and wrapping his arms around himself to retain some sort of warmth from the chilly day.
He inwardly shuddered to himself for the thought of one of those beggars approaching him abhorred him. Instead, he steered his way back towards The Neopian Bazaar to avoid such situation from happening.
When he arrived, he could see that the holidays was a very stressful time for Neopian shopkeepers. Peering into the Unis Clothing kiosk, he could see havoc ensue when the shopkeeper restocked a bunch of shop inventory. He even eyed a rare Shoryu Pink Avatar Jacket in the far back corner, but for some strange reason a random Neopian was haggling over a pair of inexpensive Wellington Boots and Mynci T-shirt instead. Shrugging it off, he allowed his thoughts to drift him away from Neopia’s chaos and into the calamity of his own personal situation.
Later on in the day, all his NeoFriends would be coming over to his NeoHome to celebrate the commemorative season. For that reason, he wanted to ensure that everything in his party would go absolutely perfect.
He’d sent out invitations to his holiday bash earlier this month and was pleased to see that most of the co-workers immediately RSVP’ed. Even the head honcho of the Faerieland Employment Agency was going to make a brief visit therefore his reputation as a Leader at the company was on the line.
After much persuasion (and by that he meant a pinch of bribery), he was able to get the Kelp Restaurant, the most exclusive and famed restaurant in all of Neopia to cater his party - the prospect of their famed Whole Roast Pheasant and Ocean Platter made him drool. His NeoHome was decorated with red and green coloured garlands, wreaths galore, and trinkets of Christmas-themed bells and statues. He was even able to get Jazzmosis to come and play in the background - boy did that cost a pretty penny! He spared no expense in ensuring his party would be unforgettable.
It wasn’t until earlier in the morning that he overheard his boss mention his fondness for Fresh Baguettes, that he made it a mission to purchase some for him. Through the grapevine, he overheard the job opportunity of becoming a Master was coming up and he felt he needed to grease the wheels a bit in order to steer the promotion his way.
All of a sudden, his train of thought was interrupted when he smelt the fragrant waft of freshly baked Baguettes. Swiveling his head, his eyes widened in shock as he could see a random Neopian holding a Fresh Baguette in her arms.
Racing back to the Bakery Shop, he was aghast to see that all the Fresh Baguettes were sold out once again. Annoyed with his misfortunate, he stomped around the shop, fuming and inwardly cursing obscenities at whomever was responsible for buying all the Fresh Baguettes. Releasing a sigh of defeat, he purchased a bundle of Chocolate Chip Cookies and began to walk home.
As he bypassed the Toy Shop, he overheard a Neopian haggle over a Blue Bouncy Ball with the shopkeeper saying, ‘'I won’t take less than 653 Neopoints for it.”
The Neo-citizen pitied the shopkeeper who had to deal with the shopper. Why anyone would haggle over something worth less than 1,000 NP bewildered him.
Suddenly, his attention was taken aback by the overwhelming smell of Fresh Baguettes once again. He raced towards the fork in the road between The Neopian Bazaar and Marketplace and was shocked to see the individual responsible for all his frustration was that same petpet waiting at the shop earlier today, and who was carrying what seemed to be the latest restock of Fresh Baguettes!
Retrieving some Neopoints from the confines of his jacket pocket, he thrusted the amount towards the petpet and said, “I need these Baguettes, would you accept 20,000 NP for all of them?”
“I’m sorry sir, but these Baguettes aren’t for sale,” he promptly said and he continued walking along the stone-brick path. “Perhaps you can buy some at the Fresh Bakery Shop? You’re offering far more than what I paid for them anyway.”
Seeing the petpet walk away from him, The Neo-citizen became outraged. Due to his superior position in the Faerieland Employment Centre, underlyings never objected to his instructions or commands. Today was not a day he would accept no for an answer so he altered his sales tactic.
“I see that you’re a smart fella but what I’m offering you is so much more than that. Since each Baguette costs approximately 1,000 NP and you have only 10 Bagettes in your possession, you could potentially purchase twice that amount with the deal I’m offering you.” he smugly replied.
Taking a quick glance at the petpet’s appearance, he could tell that he did not come from higher socio-economic means. His green fur was smudged with dirt and there were patches in it that shouldn’t otherwise be present. He also acknowledged that this particular petpet required regular brushing and bathing to stop them turning into frizzy messes yet this one was as frizzy as a bush!
Retrieving his money clip from his pocket, he peeled off even more Neopoints. “In fact, I’ll even sweeten the deal and bump the price from 20,000 NP to 50,000 NP.” And began fanning the outrageous amount in front of the Neopian-themed petpet. “50 Baguettes instead of the meager 10 in your hands, wouldn’t that make your holidays even better?”
Just as he thought he sealed the deal, he was shocked to see the little petpet shake his head in negation. ‘What? Everyone can be bought, no matter what circumstances!’
Getting agitated at how stubborn the petpet was, he angrily retorted, “What’s your problem? What do you want from me then? What can I give you so I can have those Fresh Baguettes?”
Beginning to get annoyed, the little Neopia-inspired petpet said in return, “No one understands the true meaning of The Day of Giving. Nowadays individuals believe giving goes hand-in-hand with reciprocity - I give you something in return for an expectation further down the line. You see, the reason why I rejected your offer wasn’t because it wasn’t generous enough, but because they're far more valuable to me than to you. Instead, what you did was insult me when you thought you could buy me. For that reason, I refuse to trade with someone whose worth is far below mine.”
The Neo-citizen laughed in return. “You’re clearly mistaken with the definition of worth. I’m one of the biggest clients at The National Neopian Bank - the daily interest I collect from the bank is probably worth more than your entire savings account! So explain to me why you believe I’m worth less than you?”
“Just because I’m not as wealthy as you doesn’t mean I’m worth less than you. Worth is not defined by the clothes on our back or how much we have in our bank account - that’s all superficial and fleeting. Rather, worth is defined by our character and so far I’m not pleased with you. Open your eyes and truly see how much worth you are to Neopia.”
And for the first time in his life, the Neo-citizen truly opened his eyes and realized how wrong he was. His eyes widened in shock as he saw the “poor, unfortunate souls” waiting in line at The Soup Kitchen happily chattering amongst themselves. He saw the Neopian who was in the Unis Clothing shop earlier that day happily gifting the Kacheek with one shoe a new pair of Black Wellington Boots. The Kougra who he saw beforehand was now thanking the Neopian he saw at the Toy Shop for the Blue Bouncy Ball. And the Mynci who was shivering from the cold now had a pristine Mynci T-shirt on his back to protect him from the weather.
Gazing at the patrons at the Soup Kitchen, whom he thought were worth far less than him happily socializing with one another and laughing without a care in the world shook him to his very core. They probably didn’t have much to their name, yet they appeared to be happier than anyone he knew.
Then he heard the petpet say, “You give with the expectation that you get something in return, whereas I learned to give not because I have too much, but because I know how it feels to have nothing.”
And all of a sudden he felt very cold. He looked at the outrageous clothes he had on - his overly expensive Blue Tonu Tuxedo Jacket and Blue Tonu Tuxedo Trousers and wondered why he spent money on something so absurd. His jacket alone could’ve supplied The Soup Kitchen with enough ingredients for the entire month! He didn't even want to imagine how many years he could've funded The Soup Kitchen instead of spending his money on his frivolous party.
He had all the wealth in the world, yet he felt so strange. So poor. So ashamed.
It was then he realized the why the petpet said the baguettes were far more valuable in his hands - to serve as a side dish for those eating at the Soup Kitchen. Complex carbohydrates like bread are packed with fiber in order to help you feel fuller for a longer period of time. In an indirect way, if the petpet agreed to his offer then the Neo-citizen could’ve been indirectly responsible for a Neopian going hungry in the night!
With a newfound resolve, the Neo-citizen knew what he had to do in order to right a wrong he’d been doing for oh so long. He thrusted the bundle of Chocolate Chip Cookies he purchased into the petpet’s hands and said, “Give these to the Soup Kitchen and then let’s hurry back to The Bakery Shop. I bet the Breadmaster has one more restock before it closes for the night.”
In return, the petpet shook his head in dismay. “I spent all that was left in my bank account on these Fresh Baguettes in my possession - I have nothing left.”
The Neo-citizen merely smiled to the Drugal and said, “Don’t worry, it’ll be on me.”
Drugal Trivia: Drugals require regular brushing and bathing to stop them turning into frizzy messes.