I see him occasionally on my way home for work when the weather is decent enough for me to ride the Vélib bike home. So I stop and say bonjour. He has a lovely smile, and a soft approach to a hard life that I imagine took years to perfect.
One of the stories he told me was of how he became a bouquinist. He told me he had met a woman and fallen in love many years ago, and this girl’s dream was to be a librarian. She loved books. He said that at the time he had never considered such a type of endeavor as a dream in life. But it was hers. The woman did not remain in his life (he did not tell me how it ended) but she had planted within Alain a desire to be with books. And in a sort of homage to their love story he decided to be a bouquinist. And there he is at his post, caressing the covers of so many beautiful volumes as of they were long lost loves that had come back to him.