Last Friday I was supposed to meet a friend for lunch at Tiffany’s Bakery and Eatery, a chi-chi lunch spot near work. It’s chi-chi because it’s really too expensive for a working girl – $9 for chicken salad and sweet tea? Even if it is their specialty chicken salad served in a tortilla shell with a side of fruit. Now that gas prices are going up even more I can’t visit often.
I got there early and as I waited I admired the specialties at the Bakery counter. Mom’s birthday was the next day, and I already had her gift. But I knew we wouldn’t have cake, because we’re all watching what we eat. (Some of us are watching our calories and some of us (ahem, me) are watching ourselves shovel it in.) When I saw the beautiful mini-cakes – lovely little towers of sponge cake tiered with raspberry cream, then topped with raspberry cream, whipped cream and a raspberry to finish – I knew I had to buy three of them so we could all have a little treat at Mom’s birthday lunch.
So far, ho-hum. What made the occasion interesting was the queue at the bakery – not even an orderly line, but a clot of women. The lady to the right of me ordered three loaves of bread, all of which had to be sliced. The one counter attendant was struggling to keep up. I waited semi-patiently while women kept coming in and barging up to the counter. I’m thinking, these people are going to jump ahead of me! I’m going to speak up. I’m not letting them cut in line! To complete the scene, the ladies who were in front of me (sweet old things) kept dithering about what to order.
When it finally came time for me to order, I thought to myself, I’ll show them how it’s done. I crisply said “three raspberry cakes to go, please.” I was so pleased with myself, thinking “here’s someone who knows how to order quickly and efficiently.” But then I had to wait some more while the attendant slowly and carefully boxed the cakes, lifting them one at a time from the tray and meticulously setting them, still in their individual cake frills, inside the box. Then she put the ribbon on the box, taking an inordinate amount of time to secure it around the box.
That’s when the clerk came back to me and said “that will be $16 dollars and 17 cents.” I about fell over. I was standing there with a $10 bill in my hand, thinking, surely these won’t be more than $2.50 or even $3 apiece. I gaped and asked her, excuse me – how much? She repeated “$16.17. The cakes are $4.99 each.”
At that point I had about 20 minutes invested in getting these cakes. Much of that time I’d been sweetly glowering at the other patrons – you know how Southern ladies do, with a smile on their face. I felt bad about that. And I couldn’t ask her to unbox the cakes, since it took so much effort to get them ready. So, I just smiled and fished my debit card out of my wallet.
The moral of the story: No matter how pretty or precious, last-minute, spur-of-the-moment purchases are NEVER good for my budget.
(But they were tasty little cakes.)