No matter where I go, if the question of what I do arises, people feel compelled to tell me about how someone random who they know also makes cakes. I know that they're just trying to make a connection and be chatsy, but it's usually just awkward. Here are some places where I've been forced to pretend to enjoy cake small talk.
1. The grocery store. This is awkward because the cashier, upon seeing the amount of flour, sugar and butter I'm buying, will inevitably tell me that someone she knows makes cakes too. And how they got the BEST cake at the Walmart bakery and how cheap it was. I'm forced to stand there and be polite and smile and nod.
2. A Focus Group. I did a focus group about grocery stores, which is a topic that people in my area are strangely obsessed with. The people in the group started reminiscing about a grocery store that used to be in town, and how fabulous their bakery department had been.
I know that this particular bakery wasn't any different than any other grocery store, but that people in Richmond were also strangely obsessed with the particular grocery store so they thought it was magical. After an hour of people bringing up the miraculous cakes they got there, I had to interject my two cents, which was basically that I was a baker and I'd tried to be polite up to that point, but I couldn't stand it anymore, then they all had to hear my rant on how grocery store bakeries work. I think that I ended up telling them "all those cakes are, are basic, straight-up cake mix and icing with no butter in it." So maybe that was more awkward for the rest of the group...
3. On The Phone With The Staples Sales Rep. I spend so much money at Staples, they assigned me a "personal account representative," which is just a sneaky way to get you to answer the phone when they call, if you ask me. The first guy who called me saw the name of my business and trapped me on the phone for about fifteen minutes telling me about how his wife makes cakes "just for friends and family" and how she doesn't get paid to do them. Awesome, another person flooding the cake market.
As an aside, this guy also REALLY LOVED fondant. He was really enthusiastic about how much he liked fondant, it was a little scary.
4. During Any Type of Home Improvement. Whenever I have a plumber or electrician come to the house to do anything, I can pretty much guarantee that they have a relative who does cakes (just for friends and family, not for money, of course) and they'll be ready to tell me all about it. That's okay if it's a flat service call fee, but if they're charging by the hour I just want them to fix the faucet for God's sake.
5. During Medical Procedures. I've discussed cakes during many routine medical appointments. Let your mind go where it will and you'll be there. I turned 50 this year and just had my routine colonoscopy and I now know all about the doctor's wife's cakes and the nurse's daughter's cupcake cakes. At least I got a good anesthesia nap out of it. (And by the way, don't be afraid to get a colonoscopy, it was super easy. That's my public service message for the day.)
Are there specific places that you always seem to get trapped into listening to other people's cake stories? Leave a comment below.
Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC in Richmond VA, and cake supplies online at www.acaketoremember.com and www.acaketoremember.etsy.com