This weekend was #5’s birthday, which is always a fun occasion. Of course we love to celebrate each child’s birthday, but #5’s enthusiasm is contagious. No matter what gift she receives, what decorations are hung, or what cake she’s given, everything is just THE BEST in her eyes!
But that’s her personality. Everything is fun with #5!
Most of the birthday preparations were finished in advance, but the actual day of #5’s birthday still required some errands. One of the things that I left until last minute was her birthday cake. All #5 requested was a chocolate cake with white icing.
No problem! Right??
I hustled to our local Stop & Shop to pick up a cake. They always have beautiful & tasty cakes on hand*, so this was a no-brainer.
(* this post is not endorsed by Stop & Shop bakery section, although it SHOULD BE, because with a bajillion kids, I end up buying a bajillion cakes from them… I should be able to score a free cake now & then, though maybe not after this.)
Or rather, it should have been a no-brainer.
I browsed through the bakery section, and much to my surprise, the cakes looked… “eh”. Not great. Some had cracked icing, others were decorated in garish colors. And no chocolate cake with white icing.
I wanted to get the right cake.
So I bypassed, deciding to stop at another local Stop & Shop later to purchase the cake. And I went about my day, running errands and taking the birthday girl out to lunch.
Afterward, I dashed over to the other store, and sure enough, found a lovely chocolate cake with white icing and rainbow sprinkles.
And HERE’S where it went down…
Me: “Can you please write, “Happy Birthday Emily” on the cake?”
Bakery Worker (eyes huge): “Ohhhh… I don’t do that… the woman who does is on break right now. She’ll be back in 20 minutes.”
I didn’t have time to wait. And I considered buying the supplies & writing it on the cake myself. But- although I’ve got good handwriting, I’m not the best with icing, & why should I spend more money, when someone else can do it better?
I got back into the car, and #1 came up with a brilliant idea. What if we called the other local Stop & Shop, the original, crappy-looking-cake one, & checked to see if since we had bought a cake & had the receipt, maybe they could write on it for us?
(My kids are wicked smahhtt…)
We called, and sure enough, YUP! Come on by! Bring the purchased cake on in, and they’d be happy to write on it.
And again, HERE’S where it went down..
#1 begged to run into the store with the cake for me, & since we were in a rush, I happily agreed.
I pulled up curb-side (which I DON’T normally do, a source of ongoing debate between The Captain & I that I’ll save for another time), and #1 bounced off with the cake, to me chanting, “Happy Birthday, pink icing, ok? Happy Birthday, pin-”
#1 was back in a flash, no longer bouncing. They didn’t have pink icing, she said, so she asked for … RED.
(Red? Um, well, okkk)
So she handed the cake over, slowly. Silently.
Then did a double-take. And looked again.
Don’t get me wrong… I’m not high-maintenance. But I can only assume that the bakery worker that assisted #1 by writing on the cake had either had WAY too much coffee, or was WAY too excited to decorate this, because instead of that beautifully iced script I expected, we got…. THIS.…
It looks like it was a long, hard journey.
He started out enthusiastic: “I GOT this!”
But by the second P: “Oh, uh.. this is tricky..”
Overcompensated for that thin Y by coming on strong on that B… “Whoo! Imma ice this UP!”
Got real overwhelmed with crossing that T. “How the-“
(NO IDEA what happened with that Y on “birthday”!)
And by the –ly, his hand was shaking with sheer exhaustion.
I’m not sure if the worker was just inexperienced at writing on cakes, in a huge rush, or… perhaps some random worker or customer finally seizing the icing bag & making his mark. Literally.
A heated debate began in the car. The kids and I (sans the birthday girl, who was with Grandma) discussed if this cake was acceptable or not, and if not, what would be done.
I was pissed. To me, the cake was ruined. I’d have to get my money back, & either go BACK to the other store that was stocked with chocolate cake, or accept an even crappier one.
And we were pressed for time, late already, and the kids were tired and bored and just wanted to GO HOME.
And then, #2 piped up, “Mom, it’s ok. She CAN’T READ ANYWAY.”
She was right. Could I have gone back in and gotten a manager? Sure. Could I have gotten another cake? Yep.
But we didn’t. We ALL just wanted to go home, and that’s what we did.
And you know what? #5 was thrilled to blow out her candles on the jittery-lettered cake.
She was thrilled to take:
ONE SINGLE BITE.
Then: “I’m done. Can I open presents now??”
She didn’t care. It wasn’t about the cake. It was about the fun, the love, and the presents.
Lesson Learned: Yes, crappy customer service can certainly be rectified, but sometimes, perfection is overrated. We sometimes fixate on the wrong thing. The kids and I had a big laugh over the cake, #5 had a fantastic birthday, & I remembered not to sweat the small stuff.
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