Sounds about right. I'm the only one sticking their neck out trying to solve problems, and every new idea involves adding something new to my "job". My increasingly sedentary mother and sister aren't doing anything new, in fact they're taking longer to decorate their cakes so it fills up the day instead of getting them done faster so they can catch customers.
So I have to come up and catch customers, and I get two or three minutes at a time between each group when I have to find something to do. That's where it gets fucking ridiculous. I'm the only one filling the napkin dispensers properly, and it sounds OCB to say that but the napkins are folded in the middle and the fold should be at the top because that's where the customer grabs them from. The fold also means it doesn't shear off when they pull the napkin. So load the fucking dispenser so that the fold is at the top and everyone's happy. It takes all of two seconds to ask yourself which fucking end is up before you shove them in.
The cases look disgustingly disheveled, so I straighten them whenever I take something out. If the pans are at angles, the door bumps them. We had to replace the glass in one of the cases because people are shoving a pan in diagonally when they are done, and try to open the door on the other end and shoving the corner into the fucking glass. So straighten it the fuck up, this isn't fucking rocket surgery!
And customer's come in carrying babies or extra packages, so when they need a bag it shouldn't behoove you to put the items into the bag so it's balanced. Heavy and larger items on the bottom. Smaller items stacked neatly. And pick up the bag to make sure nothing tips on its fucking side! We can't afford to stop and fix cakes anymore. Make sure it's right, and do it until it's second-nature!
And customers order full sheet cakes, these cakes are almost three feet wide on the long side. When they need help taking the cake out to the car SET THE FUCKING CAKE DOWN ON THE FUCKING COUNTER. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT PICK THE CAKE UP AND TRY TO NAVIGATE AROUND THE COUNTER, the cake will not run away if you leave it to pick up on the other side.
And when you get the cake out to their car, USE THE FUCKING SEATBELT. I can't stress this enough, if there isn't anyone to hold the cake in their lap, use the seatbelt to keep the cake from flying off the seat onto the floor. Since I've been taking cakes out for customers, we haven't had a single one call up asking us to fix their cake because they hit the brakes too hard.
It's Fucking Brain Science, apparently. We can't hire a single person who figures any of this shit out. I have to stretch myself as thin as possible.
Getting over being alive and vulnerable. Sickness sweated itself out over the weekend, hence staying up late Saturday and basically sleeping all Sunday on generic cold medicine. fun stuff, really knocked me out. I do remember the Harry Potter stuff and Chekov and something with the turntables site. And I've got a few e-mails from twitter. What the hell did people do to me?
Since I'm less stuffy and more strongarm thug, I should probably catch up on actual events I can recollect.
Spoiler for Like Us On Facebook:
The facebook thing is working. My dad upped the rewards to answer a trivia question and get a free cake. It's caught on, people are getting in as early as possible to answer and get in a free cake. Our "fanbase" has jumped up about 80 people in the last few weeks. Folks are coming in for the free cupcakes and then buying extra for their friends.
Seems to be working, and get this: It costs less than advertising in the newspaper. Sure, we are losing money from product not being sold, but word-of-mouth is getting people in the doors. Things are looking up a little bit, and, again, it's costing less than advertising in the newspaper.
Plus, my Dad's a trivia warehouse. We all are. It's like we've trained our whole lives for this to happen. Not to toot our own horns, here, but no other local business can boast something like this. These aren't coming out of a box of trivial pursuit cards, this is stuff we sit down and volley back-and-forth during mealtimes. We're doing simple ones right now, but I could see us having really obscure or more difficult things and greater rewards later.
Other local bakeries have been doing slander, though. They're claiming we don't make our own cakes, or that we buy our icing pre-made. *ahem*
No. These are our cakes, we make them from scratch, flour, sugar, oil, eggs, we have the receipts for every ingredient, and we spend too much to just buy it from a mix pre-made. How dare they?!
And the icing?! That's MY recipe. Buttercream. Chocolate. Cream Cheese. Flower Icing. I made everything from basic ingredients, using chemical know-how and common sense.
Shame, trying to push us down when we're just trying to build ourselves up. We're taking the high road on this.
Spoiler for Siblings:
I keep attempting to ask my sister about using her paintings as backgrounds, but she keeps shutting me down before I can even ask. "Look" she says, "I don't want to get into an argument, if it is important we'll discuss this after we're closed" and then when we close she's too busy, or waiting to go home. And I'm holding her up, because I can't run the photo printer until later on in the day.
Yesterday morning, she started off asking if I wanted to drive in with my car. I said either way I was fine.
The reply: "I'll let you drive, then."
Maybe I'm reading into it too much, but she'll "let me" drive in? How beneath her am I?
Then, she takes an order for a plaid cake. Plaid like a tartan. Plaid like a kilt. Plaid printed on sheets of icing to be cut and positioned on a cake. She comes back with a copy of the order and asks me my opinion.
I'm sick, my head is throbbing. I tell her "No. It won't look good. I can't match the pattern they bring in perfectly, and the food coloring won't be the right pitch. We won't be able to print it out to cover a quarter sheet unless I print two sheets."
And then she corrects me, it's on a half-sheet.
Which is a minimum of four sheets of icing, printed out.
Oh, no. No no no, we cannot take the order.
She runs up front. Returns in a few minutes. "She's sending us pictures from her cell phone."
Now, in my mind, I'm boiling. Muscles are twisting, fists pounding brick through drywall, through wires and pipes, my face full of blood and veins and red anger weeping through my pores.
"I just said not to take the order" I say, lightly.
"She's a good customer," she says.
I JUST GOT CHEWED OUT FOR MAKING AN ANIMAL CELL CAKE A FEW WEEKS AGO, AND NOW THIS BULLSHIT?
"I'm sure she is, but I just said we couldn't make the cake look good."
"Oh, she's fine with that" she says. "Besides, we're charging her for three sheets of icing."
"Four," I say, "It will take at least four. And it will have to be printed out to be pieced together. It will take me at least an hour to figure out how to arrange each sheet so it fits with the pieces cut from the others. But Whatever, I'm sure she's great. SALT OF THE EARTH" I call out as my sister has already left the hell of the baking area for the cool comfort of her chair and ample air-conditioning. Let the demon bellow, its shrieks won't carry from so far below.
I think this is dropped.
Until I sit down for my lunch break. That's when she runs over to me, half asleep, to tell me "I think you should be available for all photo cakes customers."
"That's not possible," I try to object.
"Yes it is, you expect me to catch customers when they want specific decoration."
"But I'm trying not to get the price wrong, and you told me extra decoration is a different price and I can't make that up when I'm not decorating."
And in her haste, she doesn't realize Dad was getting coffee in the corner, and overheard what she'd trying to do.
"He can't be on call during all hours, he has to bake cakes and make icings. And he has to print those pictures out. While you are decorating cakes up there anyway."
She drops it. Now. She drops the argument now.
I don't appreciate an opportunistic attack like that. Not that I can do anything to prevent it, other than never take a break, and never recover from a cold ever again.
So I have the plaid cake to do for Thursday. I have to intentionally not try to make it work, now, else I'm spending too much time working on it.
Fucking. Double. Standards.
Spoiler for Problems with getting everyone on the same page:
Okay, earlier I mentioned that we're no longer doing those Gourmet style cookies.
One of our employees mentioned she told her son about that and he said he's sorry it happened because he would've ordered two dozen of them before we ran out.
Okay, the same employee has been taking orders for the cookies we no longer have and can't make.
She claims we never told her not to. Actually, we told her not to when we said we ran out. We told her not to take orders last week when she took an order for thirteen dozen assorted of gourmet cookies we don't have. And we told her not to today when she took another order for seven dozen cookies we don't have.
She's almost seventy years old. We should have "let her go" months ago, but then my grandfather's operation and sudden doctor's appointments we haven't had the ability to hire someone new and train them.
We're suffering for it. We're saps. We need to make a decision about this soon.
She's not wanting for money, her husband has a very lucrative job, and she said when we hired her that this was her last job and she'd retire after us. She's well past retirement age.
And she scowls at customers. She's very gruff over the phone. I've seen her act dumb, and we receive phone call complaints from customers about her.
But it's Christmas, and we can't fire her. We have to figure something out.
I'd like to lookup what the cost would be to run Teamspeak on my website's server. I might be able to get it up and running so the movies thing works out a little better and several folks can chat at the same time, or listen in. Not sure how that works, though. Also, I'd have to figure out if everyone was on board before putting everything in motion, then. It's too much to just jump in and expect it to work, I'm tired of that naivete.
Heh, set down to reply when an employee turned over an order to me for Wednesday, December 17th.
RED FLAG. I caught up to her and asked if she meant the 21st, but no, she meant the 14th.
HAHA, and then she had the nerve to ask me to go find the order she put on my Dad's table for the same date and change it for her. Really? Bah, you know what? I did go change it for her, and went through the other orders to make sure she hasn't been filing everything else wrong. God. Fucking. Damn. It.
I don't watch Cake Boss.
Cake Boss can suck it.
So can that ace of Cakes guy.
And the Cupcake people. I saw an episode where they "pulled an all-nighter" and slept under the tables... with makeup and their hair done up. Bullshit.
One, an "all-nighter" means you don't sleep.
Two, expositional bullshit probably filmed afterward to inflate the episode.
Three, we get too many people watching these dumb shows expecting to pay pennies on the dollar for fantastical birthday wonderfuckies.
Cake Boss couldn't work for me.
Neither could that "Sweet Genius" guy. Sugar is sweet, congratulations, here's you're TV show, genius. Bah. What's up with these "pretty" people getting in front of the camera. Cooking used to be all about showing people how to take care of their food themselves. When the hell did it become all about showing everyone how "difficult" it is to do their job?
Don't get me wrong, it's not second-nature, but it's a hell of a lot easier than they're portraying it.
Tell me about Ventrilo? I've never used it. Is it easier or comparable to Teamspeak?
It means when I say something, you help me figure out what I should be saying.
I do that for my dad, he says something like "I need to go by the store and pick up cream of tartar and raisins" and I say "Do we have Molasses?" and he says "I forgot, yeah, I need to pick that up too" because although he doesn't say "We're making Oatmeal Raisin Cookies tomorrow" I gathered that is what he's thinking and repeated back the rest of the recipe.
So I start thinking about Teamspeak and I completely forgot about Ventrilo, but they are both for voice over the internet. It helps because now I have a comparison, and it will keep me from putting all of my effort into one project that could fail. I can have a plan B, now. Or, at the very least, have a broader "canvas" for my next project.
That's what I mean. You picked out something I was missing, and told me about it. I appreciate it. You've done it a lot on these forums, and I wanted to make sure I thanked you for it when you did it.
Today's pretty good. Got up feeling better than I had the last three days, though my ears are feeling some pressure. I feel like things are crawling on my skin, and it bothers me. It's probably a sign I should cut back on my salt intake, my nerves might be getting too sensitive.
Did a full batch of cupcakes. One hundred and four dozen, a good amount.
Did a full batch of Star cookies, sixty-nine dozen.
Did a full batch of Pecan Buttercookies, but only 62 dozen. I blame the bowl they were put in, I can't level off the scoop.
Only whipped up four buckets of icing, and it's almost closing time, they should have needed more by now. Maybe they're icing more efficiently? I hope it's not slow.
Wednesday is almost always a slow day. It used to be, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, combined, would equal a Thursday in sales. Weeks have been off by %30 from what they were five years ago.
But, I did get some good news, last week beat the previous year. Not by much, but by some. Facebook. Who'd have thought? I've never much been a fan of social network stuff, but I should have looked at it as a tool. Like an oven, you can mess around and get burned, or you can be careful and make a lot of people happy.
We've gotten 120 likes so far this month. By the end of the year, I kind of want it to be 200. The trivia and free cupcakes have really made some kind of impact.
I'm anxious about moving out. I don't think I could handle a roommate, so I need to make any and all expenses count. I could probably sell some of my old stuff, and maybe turn my website into a way to make a little extra money. Maybe I can talk my dad into letting me take some of the puppet stuff with me, and I could make a videosite. He'd probably want to join me. We'd be indefatigable!
We used to do puppet shows a long time ago, and I've always wanted to do videos/music stuff. Either pantomime or writing new stuff. My Dad's really talented, he can pick out a melody of any song and play it on a piano, and he bought a keyboard so he can make different styles of play. He's offered to teach me chords, which are fun because if you can play chords you can make yourself sound better than you actually are.
And the songs. If I had this kind of free reign years ago, I'd have been famous today. I wrote a damn good song for Tahlkora in Guild Wars and I never got around to recording it. My own Melody, my own everything. Years ago, putting music to puppets, holy cow I'd have a quest chain named after me.
We had a customer come in and pick up a cake, and unfortunately the customer decided to take out their frustrations on the person who brought the cake to them. My sister had to take the full brunt of it. The customer didn't like how it was decorated, and then proceeded to ask some pretty hurtful questions in front of other customers.
I found out about it pretty quick, because my sister came back to tell my dad what was going on. She had tears in her eyes.
So Dad and I are in full "DEALING WITH THIS" mode, he takes on the belligerent customer, and I catch other customers until we're empty except for the bitch. Let's just go with bitch.
He's got everything well in hand, she's already apologized for the scene in front of the customers in front of the customers, my dad's been the perfect Manager trying to find understanding in it all. Bitch admits she's under a lot of stress and the cake wasn't bad, because it was how she ordered it, and it wasn't going to ruin her son's birthday like she said it was because her son's birthday isn't for another week and this cake was for a party here before traveling.
I go back and sit with my sister in see how she's doing. It's a rough time of year, there's a lot of bad memories this and next month, and the stress is getting to her. I tell her I went out through the service entrance while no one was looking and peed in her gas tank. She busts up a little and laughs.
Then I notice she's wearing her kool-aid man t-shirt. I tell her the next customer that gets in her face, she should rip off the apron, throw it down as hard as she can, put her hands at her sides and say "OOHH YYYEEEEAAAH?!!?!" and she laughs a little bit more.
So we hug, and I whisper "I hate jennifer"(in-joke) and she's feeling a lot better. Dad comes back and gets in on the hug. She's feeling better now.
Facebook is really, really taking off. We are jumping up double-digits per day now. I'm starting to get a little flustered telling people over and over about it, and trying to vary it up because god and damn I hate repetitive dialog. We've had a few trivia contests that were too tough, but people are getting into it. A guy swung open the front door and yelled out the answer, unfortunately there was a little boy who had gotten in twenty minutes earlier with the answer, but he still got a free cupcake.
I waited on an elderly couple. The Gentleman told me "I want two cookies from here, and I'll tell you which two!" and so some hovering and picking up later, those cookies were in a small bag. Then he said "I want two cookies from this pan, too, and I'll tell you which ones" and so more hovering and choosing. I am careful to push the remaining cookies forward so the pans still look nice.
Then, it's time for the Register. I ring it up, and he takes out his wallet. "Wait," I say, "I'll take... Those dollar bills right there!" He laughs, his wife laughs, I laugh. I'm getting good at this.
We should break the total amount of sales this week from last year, maybe even from a couple years ago. That would be a really nice thing. We need a pick-me-up like that.
My dad want's to make me a figurehead for the bakery. Without going into details, my grandfather was "The Guy" people knew and talked to, he was synonymous with our Bakery. My Dad was there the entire time, and even put in the majority of the work, but he was always in the back and didn't like being "noticed"(wonder if I get that from him. . .?), and most folks don't even realize he's the son and my mom is the daughter-in-law. He wants to skip and make me the "face" synonymous with the Bakery.
I've countered that maybe we could both pull it off. We've done that kind of thing before, where we both come up with things and channel it through one persona. Like Firestorm. One makes the ideas, and the other figures out how to implement it. That's a good compromise. We've got a bunch of ideas that only a person's account on Facebook can do, since a business is restricted on Facebook to only certain kinds of posts and updates.
There's some more stuff, of course. I want to move out next month. Januaries are slow, and the only other slow month would be July-August, and I don't want to wait that long. We're working this weekend, so the apartment hunting will have to wait, but at the very least I can try to get my dad into some conversations about it. Here's hoping this works out, too.
And I might get in on something cool pretty soon. I'm fine if I don't, but it would be nice if I did.
My sister punched me as hard as she could once, on the upper area of my right arm, near the shoulder.
It bruised visibly black, cloudy. An eight-inch mark, at least four inches wide in some places. A different woman was working for us at the time and thought I was bitten by a brown recluse or something.
My sister has bionic arm, a shame she doesn't use her talent for good instead of evil.
Alright, we've pretty much run out of trays to put cookies on. In some ways Huzzah! In other ways, hobroly crowbat! Now what do we do?
We ran out of bought cookies, too. And that was actually a subject of some stress, because what my dad ordered was not what was sent to us. I hate using the bought cookies, because the quality has gone down, the ingredients are cut wrong, and they just look awful. Specifically, these were chocolate cherry nougat covered in dark chocolate and nonpareils. And we ran out of them this morning trying to fill in an order for 9" cookie trays.
I suggested we take our brownie bites, ice them with our homemade chocolate icing recipe, and drop them in nonpareils. And you know what? That's what we're gonna do from now on. No shipping in more cookies overnight. No more ordering those cookies period. I got a compliment for the suggestion.
It's still a strange setup right now. Last year we had four people hired to help us, this year it's only two and I'm running back and forth to catch customers and clean and bake. And catch the phone.
I don't know if I've mentioned before, but I am hard of hearing. Being around the drone of machinery has probably done most of the problem, but over a phone I can barely understand what people say. I've tried using algebra to figure it out. Certain words have certain sounds, certain numbers have certain sounds. If the pattern holds true and the customer's accent isn't too thick, I can figure out what they said and repeat it back.
Get their name, get their phone number(s), get what they are ordering, etc.
I can cover my growing deafness by "suggesting" other items, too. If they say they want "a cayk t- -ee- t-e-tee" I know they want a cake to feed twenty. Just in case, I tell them the quarter sheet feeds fifteen to twenty, and the next size up is a half sheet that feeds thirty to forty people. Or, if the customer sounds like they need something in the middle, I ask if there will be kids and suggest the quarter sheet with a dozen cupcakes decorated to match the cake.
It's that complicated. But it works.
I hate answering phones.
I hope I have time this week to bake some bread for the Christmas holiday.
Alright. I am a fool for thinking I could make images so easily.
I can't produce an image in a month. There should be training. Practice. I don't know if it is self-destructive to willingly pile so many things into such a short amount of time.
My mother wants me to bake bread for the weekend. We don't have bread flour, though, so I'll be buying some on my way home and using it tomorrow unless I whip it up tonight when I get home and let it raise overnight.
She wants Biscuits, too. I'll be making those tomorrow. She's no better than our customers, asking for things at the last minute. . .
The Brownies this morning. I hope my sister has a little more respect for how I do things now. She iced about five of the bricks of brownies. She can't do sharp corners, and took out an entire pan at once, which meant the final bricks were too soft to ice and had to be managed differently. "I need more practice" she said. Not a bad thing, but practice should not be done on the morning of a huge order. There's the problem. Planning.
I should have stood my ground and asked her to let me ice everything and then have her help with the boxing portion.
What's done is done, though.
I'll need to put in an application for an apartment. I'm laughably unaware of how the world works. I think the extra seventy dollars a month is worthwhile for a third room, though I could see the ...landlord(?) not wanting to sell a three-room apartment to a bachelor(or whatever they would call me). There are likely family trios that would want the room. Would I be taking it from them by renting it by myself? I don't know, but that idea bothers me.
Baking is just the job. Come the new year, I'll fucking bust this place full of puppets anecdotes
I should complain about all these journals that are filled with threads by living people who interact with objects and other living people and gravity! It's like, where's all the posts about symplectic manifolds!? Do they even know about pseudo-functioning subsystems where underlying fundamentals of science are irrelevant?
I made Cream Cheese Icing yesterday, they used it up by mid-morning, so I made another batch around noon. They used it up. We're out of cream cheese, but I'll be making more in the morning.
And pictures for cakes. They charged someone for a sheet of icing with three photos on it. The photos would print out with an empty space where a forth one would go. I could see a complaint coming from the customer. Do I crop and resize the photos so they fit three across on the sheet? They didn't charge enough for that, and what if the customer wants the photos to be "small" (they're wallet size as it is, and will print out almost twice the size they are now) to fit on a cake.
There's no respect going on. How do I deliver what the customer wants when the only definition on the order form is "JUST PHOTO PAPER" it doesn't even say there are three photos, and the envelope is paperclipped on, the envelope doesn't say who the photos go to, what if there were a mix-up?
Am I wrong to worry about this stuff? Each order is important. These are someone's family.
Facebook has skyrocketed. It's not a competition, I know. We've surpassed two other bakeries in town that have been on facebook for over a year, and by tomorrow we expect to surpass the bakery that showed up five years ago. Not a competition. 8)
There is a local franchise of Grandy's that has four times as many folks as us, but by next year in July we hope to have met that number. This is a holiday, so we've had plenty of folks show up, but not many teenagers. When Gradutation rolls around next year and the parties start, we should get a lot more people.
It's tough because a few months ago folks thought we were shut down for good, having to close for a week while a family member had open heart surgery. Now people are getting the word-of-mouth out that we're still open. I hope this continues to grow. We're certainly trying hard.
My hands are covered in food coloring from resetting the cartridges. Before I put them in, I remove the cap in the back and let the food coloring drain into the sponge that feeds into the printer. It's one more thing I do before starting printing, one more neurosis, an all new ritual. I can't leave the cartridges in the machine, they dry out from one day to the next. So I blast the printhead clean with some syringes I rigged together, then put in clean cartridges filled with clean water, overnight it keeps the printhead moist and clear. The next day, the food coloring has sat in a knock-off ziplock bag in their little orange carriages to keep the end from drying out, but it still dries out enough. Pop the little tabs and it sucks into the sponge. Trial and error has taught me that it is a necessary evil to let the sponge drink before putting them in. It's a good ten to fifteen minutes of these rituals at the beginning and ending of each run, and I get anywhere from eight to ten pictures ran each time.
And that's why mine is the only functioning photo printer in town. Because I am a notorious worrier with the curious mind of a nineteenth century scientist. Which reminds me, the yellow humours are having some trouble printing of late, I'll be taking the blast to its insides before long. hut-hut-hut. Don't weep so, I want you to be better, yellow humour. hut-hut-hut.
Enjoy the mental picture. Got to go fit three photos where four should be...
I took a roll(not pictured) and sliced it four ways for me and the folks. I go for the butter in the fridge, the real butter, and when I pick up the box it's empty. Who puts an empty box of butter in the fridge? WHO PUTS AN EMPTY BOX OF BUTTER IN THE FRIDGE WITH THE OPEN SIDE FACING AWAY?!
It's like they wanted my hopes to be dashed. I will not put "I can't believe it's not butter" on my fresh baked Sourdough. . .
Why are they doing this to me? It's not fucking fair. I just don't understand why anyone would do this, ever. I bought that butter weeks ago because I figured we would need it, and someone used it all up and put the box back in.