Thursday, May 16, 2013
Last week a woman at my marketing office sent an email to everyone on our side of the building and suggested we throw a mini wedding shower for one of the girls who will be getting married next week. This did not have to be anything fancy; just a way to say “congrats!”, we’d all chip in for a gift card somewhere and we were invited to bring baked goods. I messaged the woman back and said, “I would love to bake something!” She responded that she was actually going to buy the baked goods, but, as it was going to be Diana’s birthday on our chosen shower day as well, I was welcome to bake a birthday cake. An avid baking enthusiast I welcomed this job. I already knew the cake I would bake, too: Gooey Butter Cake, a recipe someone had once made for a cake competition I entered and I had always wanted to try it myself.
The day came and I took my normal two-train commute to my marketing job. Chicago was finally experiencing summer heat and I felt overdressed even in my light spring coat. By the time I reached the train I was a sweaty, uncomfortable mess, but, since my hands were full with a cake pan and coffee mug, I couldn’t remove my coat. The train was, as usual, crowded and I found the cake so dense that it felt as if I had a baby in my arms. I was stuck standing next to a door getting direct sunlight and by the time I reach my stop (45 minutes later) I was in a foul mood and cursing having accidentally volunteered to make a cake for Diana, who, truth be told, I wasn’t quite sure who in the office Diana was.
A dose of The Daily Puppy helped brighten my mood as did all of the wedding decorations a coworker had put up the night before. Since the bride-to-be sat across the aisle from me, the carpet around my desk was riddled with fake rose petals, small metallic hearts and Cupids, and glitter – lots and lots of glitter. When the bride arrived we all stood around and ate handmade artisanal doughnuts from one of the most popular doughnut shops in Chicago (Glazed & Infused – so good that I did not change their name). There were pistachio doughnuts, maple glazed with bacon doughnuts, toffee pecan, bar mixture (a chocolate doughnut covered in icing, M&Ms, pretzels, and potato chips), banana nut cream, and so many more. They were amazing.
The day then continued on as normal. When 3 o’clock rolled around I began to wonder if my cake had been forgotten about. I was pretty sure I knew who Diana was, but I didn’t know how to go about just bringing the cake down from the staff lounge without seeming like a total creeper. Diana and I had maybe talked once since I started this job two months ago. I thought about whispering to one of my coworkers about the cake, but that, too, felt awkward. I have only been with this company since late February, but my interactions with people didn’t really span outside of the four who shared a wrap-around desk with me. Finally, I sucked up the courage and emailed the woman who first initiated the party planning.
“Now is the perfect time for cake!” she emailed back, “If your team is ready then just give Cody a nudge (or email) and I am sure he will get the ball rolling.”
Cody is one of my supervisors and sits right behind me. I thought about emailing him since we often email each other casual questions and comments even though I could reach out my arm and touch him. Instead I leaned over our connecting desk.
“Cody,” I said, trying to keep my voice down. Diana sat across the room. “Should we do the birthday thing now?” Cody stared at me as if I asked if we should feed the horse now. “Do you know what I’m talking about?” I asked. “Should I email you?”
I then noticed that Cody was slightly tilting his head and pointing his index finger to the left. Diana sat to the left of us, but about three yards away. I looked at him curiously and wondered why he was being so secretive. Suddenly it hit me – Diana. The woman whose name I did not know and had just assumed by deduction that she was Diana – she was not Diana (I mean, her name could also be Diana because I know that it starts with a “d”, but that’s all that I know). Diana – the real Diana – was my other supervisor who sat right next to Cody. Luckily she was so enrapt in her email that she had missed mine and Cody’s entire interaction.
Immediately my face flushed. I know Diana! I speak to Diana every day! Diana has taken me out to lunch, she’s read one of my published stories – I know Diana. For some reason I had grown to accustomed to hearing Diana referred to by her first and last name, Diana Stanley, that when I was told it was just “Diana’s” birthday my mind did not even try to connect the dots.
Needless to say, I felt like an absolute moron. I quickly ran upstairs, grabbed the cake, recruited a few more people, and returned for the birthday festivities. I had been told that my coworkers were awkward at acknowledging people’s birthdays and never was this more accurate than when I was standing a couple feet away from Diana, cake in hand and her back to me, and everyone else just stared. I waited for someone to start singing “Happy birthday to you…” but it never happened. The office was dead silent except for Diana’s typing.
“Happy birthday, Diana!” I finally cheered. Cody and I began singing, “Happy birthday to youuuu.” A few people joined in, but quickly abandoned the tune, leaving only Cody and I to soldier on. Diana was both surprised and overjoyed especially since no one had mentioned it was her birthday (Obviously or else I would have realized which Diana that email was talking about). If I do say so myself, the cake was amazing and within an hour there were only two squares left.
All in all it was a successful day of celebrations. Next time I volunteer to bake a cake, however, I will make absolutely sure exactly WHO I am baking it for.