Friday, November 4, 2011

Small Children and Old Men

Let me back up two weeks.  I recieved a phone call from my grandson as I sat on a bus on my way home from work (the correct bus this time).  He was requesting that I make the birthday cake for his party the coming Sunday afternoon.  I was very touched.  He said he wanted it like what I did for his sister's birthdays - lots of colors and designs.  We settled on an orange flavored cake, in the shape of a diamond with butter cream frosting in multiple colors with lots of different flowers and designs.  He also invited me to come to his party.  Again, I was very touched and the people on the bus wondering what the hell was wrong with me as I am discussing this on my phone with a tear or two running down my cheeks.

I hopped off the bus at the next stop - in my excitement to get started I did not realize I was 2 stops too early - and made my way to the grocery store with a list in my head of my requirements:  2 Betty Crocker cake mixes (you didnt really think I was doing this from scratch did you?  I love this boy and would never subject him to my "home baking"), 1/2 doz. eggs, canola oil, 2 lbs of butter and 2 lbs of icing sugar and a package of disposable razors.  I also bought another cake tin so I could design a special diamond shaped cake.  I know, this is where most of you would jump in with "why didn't you just bake a square cake and turn it sideways?"  Quite honestly, I was too busy thinking about the invitation to the birthday and the need to bring my swim suit as it was a pool party.  I was going to have to spend the better part of Saturday weed whacking my legs (hence the razors).

Up early on saturday morning, I got all my ingedients ready.  I had the butter out so they would be room temperature when it came time to ice and I set the oven on bake - even got the temperature right on the stove.   I merrily mixed and masted and had a great time as I slid the cake into the warm oven.  I was thinking how quickly time had flown by.  How could he already be 9 years old?  For goodness sakes, his mother was 9 about 10 minutes before!

40 minutes later the house smelled all warm and fuzzy and wonderful.  I opened the door to see if any disaster had befallen me.  I was actually pleasantly surprised to discover the two cakes looked wonderful, had risen properly and were not burnt.  I carefully placed them on my cooling sheets and started preparations for decorating.

I had all my tools laid out, I had mxed and made 4 different icings, I filled 4 piping bags and attached the different styling tools to each one.  I then, very carefully, iced both cakes in plain white icing and cut  the smaller of the cakes to fit the larger, in a diamond pattern.  I was very proud of myself so far as I placed the cakes in the fridge for the undercoated icing to harden.

30 minutes later with tools ready and cake all set, I turn the TV on to my saved recordings of NCIS and set to work.  I worked hard - to the point of hand cramps -  for the next 3 hours decorating my masterpiece.  I was on the last corner, the last flower, the finishing touch.....then it happened.  I have no recollection of how or why.  My cake, my beautiful cake, fell off the edge of the table and landed upside down on my carpet. 

I stood there for a minute in complete and utter shock.  When the shock wore off the horror set in and then the anger.  I let go with a string of words that would shock a sea captain.  In fact it was so bad my brother came up the stairs to see what all the yelling was about.  He stood about 4 feet away and I swear, I saw a smirk on his face before he very wisely said nothing and disappeared back where he came from.  I got down on my hands and knees to survey the mess up close.  Nothing could be saved.  I had to pull myself together, clean up the mess and start again.  It looked like all the Shriners had hopped out of their little clown car and threw themselves face first on my carpet and all their clown make-up rubbed off on my floor.  Did you know that food dyes do not come out of carpet without heavy duty assistance?  Heavy duty assistances costs $16.95 a bottle.

Nothing I could do but head back to the store.  It was now 4pm on Saturday.  I had to deliver the cake for noon the following day.  I was in a bit of a panic but I was on a mission.  2lbs of butter, 2 lbs of icing sugar,  2 cake mizes, 1/2 doz eggs and this time, throw in a tin of merangue powder (since I had used my last on the pervious icing at $11) and heavy duty carpet cleaner.  I was about to deliver the most expensive homemade cake a 9 year old ever recieved.  As I proceeded through the ritual all over again, my mind wandered to thoughts of "did this ever happen to Sara Lee?"  Would he notice if I just bought a Sara Lee cake?  But, this is my favorite wee man in the whole world and he had asked me to do this for him, I wasn't going to let him down.  Needless to say, when I finished the process by midnight on Saturday night, I was very proud of myself.  He didn't get the diamond shape of the previous cake, but he did get a great cake and it was a big hit at the party.

It was a great afternoon as I swam and played with the grandkids.  It made the weed wacking and the cake disaster worth it.

Fast forward now to the other day.  I was minding my own business as I hopped on the train to head downtown for a morning meeting.  The meeting went well and I made my way out of the building and onto my beloved Granville street.  I stood for a moment as I took in the sights and found myself longing to be back in the midst of hustle, bustle and bizarreness of the area.  As I was standing with a silly grin on my face, a man of about 65 or so came up to me with his shoe in his hand.  It took me a minute to realize what was going on.  He was pushing it in my face and in a manner some might think of as threatening, I took as endearing, he was demanding I figure out his laces.  They were in a knot and he couldn't get it out.  He figured that since I had long nails I could help.  I must say, it felt good to be needed.  As I helped him with his shoe, one of my favorites began setting up across the street.  Skinny white rapper dude was back!  And he had a girlfriend.  I felt at home.  I want to go home.  I hate where my office is.  The only stuff that seems to happen around here is people peeing at the side of the highway.

By the way, as I am new to this company, I was invited to participate in a town hall meeting.  Up till now, no one really knew who I was and it was tough getting into some of the offices.  So, the meeting was a place for me to be introduced and I could speak to my mandate and my philosophy.  After what I said, I no longer have any trouble booking meetings.  In fact since that day, my phone and emails have been full of people wanting me to come and see them - sooner rather than later.  Let me give you the gist of my foot in mouth disease and it will become clear as to why they seem to want to see me.

ME: "Thank you for the wonderful introduction and thank you for the opportunity to be here.  As DB stated, I have been around the block a couple of times (he actually said I had been in the industry awhile) and I quite enjoy working at street level".  After the laughter died down I realized how it actually came across "here is our new Director whose been around the block a few times and really enjoys working the streets".

I don't normally let people know my true reputation until they know me better.

Well, thats it for me for now.  Stay tuned.

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