Small Cake, Big Mistake


Apparently, my blog curation has become so lackadaisical that I’ll dig through the junk drawer of my drafts folder and plop any two-year-old-essay on the internet. Still, at least to me, it’s a funny look back into the life of a disgruntled fast food employee.


Yesterday, as I reluctantly grasped at the reality of another early morning shift, I noticed a last-minute text from my boss wondering if I’d be able to bring in a “small cake” for Cece’s birthday. (I put “small cake” in quotes because I found it to be a humorous detail). Sure, I’d have to rush my over-priced coffee ritual, but I could acquire a “small” cake, no problem.

Once I’d located the perfect petite pastry (red velvet, in case you were curious), I located the shortest line. Honestly, none of the lines were very long. Surprisingly, the cake-shopping crowd is pretty slow at 7:30 AM on a Tuesday. That’s why I was surprised when the middle-aged male manager beckoned me to come to his register. After all, there was only one woman ahead of me. But hey, I was in a hurry, and he seemed rather adamant that I let him assist me out. I met him over by the balloon area (which surprised me—I didn’t know the balloon counter doubled as emergency check-out). I navigated my way around loud balloons and through a forest of gaudy flowers, only to reach the counter and wonder why Mr. Manager wasn’t standing behind it, ready to scan my emergency birthday cake. I looked at him—my face full of confusion—and managed a, “Hi?

Yes,” He answered, “I need an anniversary balloon.”

Oh, um. I…don’t…work here.”

Oh. Okay.”

He tried to act all whatever-like-I-care, but I could tell he was just as uncomfortable as I was. I promptly turned (because I didn’t want him to see me laughing in his face), and repossessed my spot in the correct check-out line. As I waited in the line I should have already been done with, I initially dwelt on how rude Mr. Forgot His Anniversary was—he didn’t even apologize for confusing me with the staff!

By the time my cake had been properly scanned, I’d come to grips with the reality that we were both equally guilty: I’d assumed he was an employee, too, and he didn’t even have a name tag. We were both looking for someone who could help us, and ready to interpret cues that fit our expectations. It’s not the first time my Chick-fil-A uniform has gotten me into trouble—apparently the all black uniform fits in very nicely at Hot Topic, Barnes & Nobles, Aeropostale, Target, and Panera. Honestly, people are needy, and they’re looking for anyone with a name tag and a style-free outfit to solve their problems.

I’ve recently acquired a red uniform shirt, and I’m excited about the opportunity to pair it with some khakis and wreak havoc at Targét. “Mascara? Toy Department, Aisle 3.” “Oh, I’m sorry sir, our dorm section is off-limits to adults: college students only.”

I digress. Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is that we humans—myself included—are far too preoccupied with what we need/want, and we end up scanning others for whether or not they’ll be helpful to us. We’re frantically chasing our balloons and cakes, getting in each other’s way and ignoring what everyone else needs.

In the drive-thru window, I see hundreds of people for 30 seconds every day. Those 30 seconds say a lot about a person. After all, if you were to rank humans according to how much effort you need to expend towards positively affecting their feelings, fast food employees would probably fall pretty far down on your list.

But Jesus didn’t care about the status of the human, or what any of us could do for Him. He came to serve, not to be served. He came to show love to the lowest and the lost. Too often, in high school, college, church life, etc., we approach the accumulation of friends with the wrong checklist:

Is this person cool? Do they have what I need? Will they raise my social standing? Will they be fun to hang out with?

I’m not saying those things are bad—If being cool is wrong, I don’t want to be right. I’m just saying that the time I spend on relationships is God’s time. So maybe there are other, more important questions to be asked when we’re considering relationships:

Does this person need a friend? Is there a need I can meet in this place? Will this person help me follow Christ?

And, most importantly, how good is this person at picking out a good small cake from a lineup? 


2 thoughts on “Small Cake, Big Mistake

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