Cake Girl No More
© Copyright 2008, Kathy Cano-Murillo
My name is Rubina Chinchada and I love cake. Especially while on the job. Well, I used to before Bunny had her way with me.
Let’s get this straight. Free cake is one of the fringe benefits of slaving away at an office. To the outside world, it is just...well, cake. But when you’re confined to an off-white cubicle for eight hours, and someone hollers, “Come get cake!” - that stupid four-letter word becomes a decadent pleasure that you feel you are entitled to.
Here’s how it works at my gig: Whenever it is someone’s last day or birthday, an announcement flashes across our computers’ instant message system.
"Come have cake for Lucy’s birthday".
In that instant, the entire staff, myself included, becomes sugarcoated robots, simultaneously rising from our chairs, and gleefully marching to the table for our afternoon delight.
On one particular Friday, I knew a birthday celebration was in store. I arrived early for work and went into the cafeteria for coffee. I watched the restaurant deliverymen carry a large pink box into the cafeteria’s kitchen. I asked for a peek. Sure enough. Our cake! And not the cheap grocery store stuff, I’m talking chocolate fudge-on-chocolate fudge. Certainly worth downing the calories for.
The day crawled by as I waited for the cake bulletin to come across. I daydreamed of scoring that first slice - a luscious chunky corner piece. The smell of the fudge frosting haunted me. I wanted to squish it between my teeth just to savor every granule. TMI? Sorry. See how much I love cake?
At last! The message came through at about 2 p.m. I leapt from my rickety office chair and raced to the table to
My mouth watered. It looked moister that I imagined. Victory!
She plopped the gooey chunk on a thin paper plate and held it up for the taking. Looking like Gollum with the One Ring, I stuck out my chubby hand and snagged that first coveted piece.
"My precious!", I chanted in my head - seconds before one of the most horrifying event of my life took place.
"Ohhhh. Sorry, Rubina”, Bunny said in the most condescending tone I’ve ever heard. "This cake is just for the design team, not your department. You need to hand it back." Her body language made it clear she would not proceed cutting the next piece until I returned my plate.
"Huh?", I replied in complete bewilderment. This news did not register in my brain. She couldn't possibly mean for me to literally GIVE BACK MY CORNER PIECE OF CAKE...
IN FRONT OF EVERYONE!
That's *exactly* what she meant.
"I'm sorry! I didn't know" I stammered in disbelief. "The...the message came out.... I saw it flash across my screen...I thought everyone was invited to the party.”
I handed it back. “Here you go, no problem!"
I let out a nervous chuckle and shrugged. I turned and forged my way through the crowd to make it back to my desk. It took an eternity, as if Bunny decided to hit the slo-mo button just to heighten my insecurity.
I made it to my desk, dropped my head in my hands and sobbed. I was soooo humiliated, I wanted to walk out of the building and never return. I knew, from that day forward, I would be known as Rubina, The Cake Hog.
In that moment, I never wanted cake again - to see it, taste it or smell it. Chocolate or no chocolate.
One of my co-workers, Lucas, wheeled his chair over and comforted me. He handed me a tissue. I blew my nose and explained what Bunny just did to me. He patted my back and assured me it wasn't my fault. He explained her lack of proper office cake etiquette - Bunny should have had the design department’s party in a private conference room away from weak-kneed icing lurkers like me.
My other co-worker, Mia, walked by and saw Lucas wiping away my tears.
"Oh no! Rubina!", she squealed. "What's wrong, sweetie?"
Lucas replied, "She's crying because Bunny wouldn't let her have cake."
I rolled my eyes in astonishment. "NOoooo!, Lucas, that's not why I'm crying!" I said in my defense. “I’m crying because I’m embarrassed. I don’t care about cake anymore!”
Too late. Word spread through the department that "Rubina was crying because Bunny wouldn't let her have cake".
Hello, double humiliation!
Just when I had tossed my last tissue in the trash and wheeled my way back to my computer screen, Bunny startled me from behind. She hunched her lanky 6-foot-tall body over my shoulder and shoved a plate in my face. On the plate was a hunk of cake huge enough to put Iron Man in a sugar coma for weeks.
"I'm sorry I didn’t let you have cake, Rubina. Here is a special piece I cut for you," she said in a genuinely apologetic tone. I told her it was cool, and politely declined the offer as to not cause anymore of a scene.
And persisted. Until...
Homegirl done flipped my switch.
I stood up and clenched my fists. "Bunny, you humiliated me in front of everyone in the ENTIRE department," I yelled, eyes watering. "You can’t take cake back from a chubby girl in front of her workmates! I'm traumatized! I can NEVER eat cake again! You’ve stolen my joy! It's over for me, OK? I have to go on a diet anyways and I guess this is what it takes to nudge me. Please leave me alone. I don’t want your cake!"
I waved her away, covered my face with my hands and wept. Now that I think back, it was probably going to be that time of the month for me - however...
It was then I noticed dead silence. My co-workers had all heard my cake drama and were left speechless. No one knew what to say, as they had never seen me like that. Poor Bunny looked pretty freaked out too. She turned around and quickly escaped from the immediate area.
Instead of me being known as The Cake Hog, she had become The Lady Who Made Rubina Cry. I'm the smiley, cheery girl in the office. I have colorful desk accessories and like to sprinkle glitter on everything. I'm always comforting other people who cry. It takes a mean person to make me reach that level of emotion at work. Later on, I found out Bunny was a recovering alcoholic and my dramatic episode knocked her off the wagon. Not my intention!
As far as cake in the office? I haven’t had a slice since.
Words of wisdom: Work is work. We go there to further our career and earn an honest paycheck. Not to score free cake. If you want some chocolate-on-chocolate pastry action - make it yourself! It will mean so much more, and maybe even save some drama in the office.
And yes. This is inspired by a true story :-)