Wednesday, December 10, 2008

"I'd like to order a cake for my girl..."

Regular readers of Sz; tcob know that I lead a very sheltered life. There are four places I go: Tiki, the In-Laws, Home, and to Work in the bakery. Rarely do I draw on my current life for articles, as most would have you reaching for your bottle of Xanax or whiskey faster than Jesse Owens could run. There isn't much to write home to mother about in my everyday. This is an exception.

I've been training the new girl, Gretchen, in how to work in the bakery and she is by far the quickest learner I have ever trained. Sunday was the last day of her training and I was there to answer questions and help with the after-church crowd. Other than that, I was to let her do what needed to be done and observe. At about five o'clock the crowd got thick and she was handling customers with quick and courteous service but still wasn't keeping up through no fault of her own. I stepped in and took a gent with a cake order as she was doling out danish and cream sticks by the dozen.

He was young, tall and thin, with glasses that made him look studious and I guessed that he was a student at one of the local colleges. He was dressed in all black from head to foot and wore his hair short. He was soft spoken and contemplated each decision carefully as he ordered the cake for his girl.

From the pocket of his coat he pulled three photos and said he wanted them reproduced on the cake. One was a twenty year old 8x10 that was badly torn of a little girl in a wicker rocking chair. The next was of a cute young lady who was in her mid-teens with a huge grin. The third was a very blurry snapshot of an adult woman in short cut-offs and a T-shirt that looked as if it had been painted on who wore a "come hither" stare.

"I want all three on the cake," he said.

I warned him that the cake he was ordering was a $30 cake and the bakery charged a flat $10 fee for each picture, not to mention that the blurry photo of the adult birthday girl would come out even more blurry than the photo he provided.

"I don't care. I want all three across the cake, youngest to oldest."

"What would you like written on the cake?" I asked.

"Happy 34th Birthday Being Pregnant," he said after some consideration. I wrote it down and assured him the cake would be ready on Saturday at the time he specified, and that that was all the info that I needed. He turned to go but stopped in mid-stride and came back to the counter.

"I can pay for this with my Food Stamp card right?" he asked.

"Yes," I said. He nodded and went on his way.

The rest of the evening I couldn't shake the feeling that I had been a part of a bad idea and I felt very sad.

So, Mrs. Summers, where ever you are, I hope you got some nice birthday gifts that weren't baby clothes, and you are eating something better than birthday cake. It only gets tougher from here on out.



  1. Ummm... Gee... Where does one even BEGIN with this sort of stuff? I mean, first off, it's my experience that the icing they make the pictures out of is really BITTER.

    or is that the point??

    I feel sorta that "there but by the grace of God go i" when I get old, confused people on da' fone who dont' know nuthin' about their medicare options, are living on fixed incomes and take about 48 pills a day that they can't afford (there's a "donut hole" in Rx coverage under Medicare where, after you've spent about $2,000 on medications YOU are responsible for paying 100% for your meds until your Rx bills hit about FOUR thousand...)

    THIS though... this is somehow sadder...

    And perhaps even MORE sad that $40 would buy a lot healthier stuff on food stamps than cake.


  2. I have a feeling that cake is going to end up in his face.

    Who knew you could buy bakery items on a food stamp card??????


  3. So much to marvel and reel at here, I'm not sure where to start or how it will end.


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