I decided to work at a bakery because it seemed like an easy job to do. It is actually fun and a happy atmosphere, you meet great people, and you see a lot of talent that you can only see as an employee and not a customer. However, it is not an easy job to do. You are constantly bending down, answering questions, running around and trying to open sticky bins or carrying heavy cakes. It doesn’t stop there though, once you become a cake specialist you can never go back. You will never see a creative cake with the same eyes again! You always get interesting personalities coming into a bakery, but with a cake order, you get to know them on a deeper level. An annoying customer who wants a cookie is a world of a whole lot different interaction that an annoying customer who wants a a cake. “A customer is always right” was the worst thing in the world during those crazy moments.
Anyways, I did not think doing cakes was a big deal until customers made it a big deal.
1. You are surprised by the things people complain about!
I opened the box to show the customer how her cake turned out but she said she did not expect the frosting to be so dark. This lady showed me a picture of what she was expecting, a white cake with gold accents for her party but she chose fudge icing on her cake. She did not expect for her cake to come out as a dark brown cake with gold accents. She made a fuss, was mad at us for not pointing out to her that if she chose fudge as the icing, her cake would be brown. We had to re-ice the whole cake.
2. People want us to be like cake boss
This one was one of my biggest pet peeves. Customers would bring in pictures of lavish extravagant decorations which were usually made out of fondant, topsy turvy tiers and movable parts. I would explain to them the extent of how much we could replicate the design and often they would not be satisfied. Then, I would get the managers and cake decorators, we would draw out the design they wanted, and when finally they were happy with the compromise, the whole thing would go to shambles once we added up the total. After dealing with them for an hour, they would walk out with a regular round cake with a printed picture on top.
3. Saturday is the worst day in the world
Saturdays are they days you hope just come and go. That is the day of parties and celebrations and several large walk in fridges jam packed with cakes and orders. Most of us are small petite girls who weigh less than those cakes we need to find. Then after finding the cake, and struggling with it or having someone kindly carry it for us, that was only halt of the victory, the next was hoping that the customer actually liked the cake, or you have to struggle with it back to the decorator’s station. I got a lady who started to cry because her cake was misspelled, something we could change right away. Another lady thought her cake was too light blue and she wanted the cake for free and her money back in cash even though she paid with a card. I told her to wait for the manager to come and she responded,
“Well you can tell that bitch to give me my money! I’m a single mother! Open that register and give me my money!”
That was a scary moment. Onlooking customers kept asking me what ended up happening for two weeks afterwards.
4. People who don’t make space for their cake in their car
Oh my sore arms! I have had to hold big cakes right in front of a customer’s car as I am waiting for them to organize their stuff. Its not just one person during the day, but a lot of people who do not come prepared with enough space in advance. I do not care at least one bit how messy and dirty your car is, that car better have some space to put that damn cake! One time a guest came in with a luxury sports car that had no trunk and I had to bend down almost to the curb to put that cake on the passenger seat. He was picking a cake up for a friend and had no idea how big the cake was going to be.
5. People who order cakes for someone else and are too nervous to make a decision
There are a lot of well intentioned people who volunteer to order a cake for a friend. What was incredibly frustrating was that they had no idea what to order, and would often excuse themselves to send their friend all the pictures of the designs and tell them about the flavors, then come back while I am just waiting for them on the counter as if I did not have a full line of people waiting. One person was on Skype on the phone while making a cake order! This was really awkward. They would say “My friend is nice but you don’t know how picky she is!”
6. People who get your name and threaten to find you if their cake does not come out well. (Because apparently we’ve done it before but they still come here?!)
Yes, when we get these people, we brace ourselves for a scene because no matter how right we do the cake, they will find something wrong with it. One lady complained that we did exactly what she ordered and wanted us to change it because it was too plain.
7. We cannot sell bad tasting or hazardous cakes
What I mean is: we are not going to ice your whole cake in gold and deep red and cover it in pearls that is going to choke the kids at your party. One person ordered their cake with gold swirls as the filling, but they had to bring it back because their guests got stomach aches soon afterwards. After that incident, we had a stricter policy to anything bad tasting. Even if a customer insists that they only care about how pretty their cake will look and not the taste, it looks really bad on us and their guests will think we make nasty cakes.
Also, if you want your cake to be chocolate cake with lemon mouse and fresh strawberries filling we will stop you too! If we made an individual cake that serves one person then fine, pay to give yourself an acid reflux! But do not make yucky choices and bring your guests down with you too.
8. The R Rated Orders
These were kind of fun but a little awkward too. For bachelor parties boob cakes were highly requested and thongs… but we could not do that, we would make bigger bottoms or add a bra. To price a boob cake, I needed to find out how much we priced two basketballs or two golf balls. Customers would start laughing as they saw me look up different round shapes to price their boob or butt cakes. We had a famous rapper’s mom ordered a cake and we could not do most words that she wanted: we could not use the n-word.
9. Pregnant Belly Cake
This one was just too odd to me! Who wants to eat a cake that looks like a belly with a foot in it! These are so popular and people really love them, but it just never grew on me. It looks like your are eating someone’s breasts or belly, what if you go the foot?
Its like a strange cannibalism. Also, that is one big foot coming out of a mom’s belly.
10. Save the best for the last, people who do not know any information about the cake they are picking up!
They do not know what name the cake was held under, how big, the flavor, the design and not even who the cake is getting dedicated too! How am I supposed to find this cake? The bakery does not have a search engine where you put one word and your cake will magically appear.
Sometimes, people would come in and give us the wrong name on the order. We would look for their cake high and low, in the tiniest and darkest places, to then find out ourselves that they had given us the wrong information. We would come shivering out of the fridges. These customers would even have the audacity to be impatient while we were looking for the cake.”Uh… excuse me but I am late to the party and this is unacceptable! I have 2 people searching for this cake and not one person can find it! What did you say? I’m in the wrong bakery?” If they gave us the wrong info how are we supposed to find their cake!?
Slowly the first girl who started looking for the cake starts hiding in the back while looking for the cake as customers start giving you these evil glares the longer it takes to find their cake. The more glares, the more nervous we get and the longer it gets for us to find the cake. We have to be investigators and do miracles with the information that we are given.
Be that as it may, I really enjoy working at a bakery. I would say these are 30% of our interactions while 60% is full of wonderful people who stop to say hi to us. I’ve gotten gifts from regular customers and one even made me a Christmas stocking with my name on it in glitter.