A pastry shop owner refuses to sell a cake to a little girl who doesn’t have enough money and later discovers it is for her dying mother’s birthday. Sal Garfield was having a bad day. He’d been up since 3:00 am baking cakes and pastries, and now, his employee who was supposed to take over the shop for the afternoon had just called in sick.
Sal was an artist. No one could make confections like him, but he wasn’t a people person, not at all. He dealt with several obnoxious customers that morning, so when Janie Metcalf walked in, he was ready to explode. Jamie was seven years old, slim and dainty, with long blond hair and big brown eyes. She approached Sal’s display case and placed her tiny hands against the glass as she looked at the delicious pastries and cakes.
“Hey, kid!” Sal growled. “Don’t put your hands on the glass! I just cleaned it!” Life is about more than money, it’s about having a meaningful impact on others.
Janie jumped back and quickly tucked her hands behind her back. “I’m sorry!” she said. “Everything looks so delicious! My mom says you make the best red velvet cake in the world.”
Sal was flattered. “She may be right about that,” he said. “I won a prize with that cake.””I wanted to buy a cake,” Janie said and stuck out her hand. There was a little pile of coins on her palm that didn’t come to more than a few dollars. “Where did you get that, kid?” Sal asked. “Did you bust open your piggy bank?””Yes,” Janie said shyly. “I did. I want to buy a cake, a big red velvet cake.”
“A red velvet cake?” asked Sal. “I hope you have more than those three or four dollars, kid! That cake costs $70!” “Seventy dollars?” asked Janie. “But… I don’t have any more money…Could I buy just a slice?” “Kid,” Sal sneered. “You can’t even afford a slice!” Janie was almost in tears. “Please. What about that cupcake?” she pointed at a delicious-looking frosted cupcake. “How much does it cost?”
“That is a $6 cupcake, kid,” Sal said. “Honestly, you can’t afford a cracker in my shop!”Janie started crying. “Please, mister,” she whispered. “You don’t understand…”That was when Sal lost his patience. “Get out!” he shouted. “Go try your whiles somewhere else!”Janie turned away and ran out of the door. Sal watched as she sat on the curb outside the store and cried desperately. A few minutes later, an elderly lady walked past, and she stopped.
Sal heard her ask the child, “Sweetie, are you OK?” Janie cried, “I wanted to buy my mom a cake? But the man wouldn’t sell me one.” “Well,” the lady exclaimed. “Is that what you’re crying about? Having cake?” “It’s not for me,” Janie explained. “It’s for my mom. It’s her birthday, and she’s in the hospital. This is her favorite pastry shop, and she loves the red velvet cake.””Oh, dear!” the lady said. “Poor lady! What’s wrong with her?”
“She has cancer,” Janie explained. “Dad said… she’s not coming home.” That’s why I’d like to get her a cake.” “I’m so sorry!” exclaimed the lady. “Maybe…” Sal, on the other hand, had had enough. “Little girl, come back!” he yelled as he dashed to the door. Janie looked up at him, tears streaming down her cheeks. “Me?” she inquired. “Yes,” Sal replied in his sweetest voice. “Please, return.” The elderly lady assisted Janie in getting up and walking back into the pastry shop. “I didn’t take anything,” she explained.
“I understand,” Sal said softly. “I’m sorry for not listening to you before. I heard what you said to her. Is it your mother’s birthday? “Yes,” Janie confirmed. “It is, indeed. I’m aware that I don’t have enough money…” “It’s OK,” Sal admitted, embarrassed. “I have an extra cake.” So if you could take it, that would be great!” “You do?” Janie asked quietly. “Really?”
“Really?” Sal replied. “It’s also one of my special red velvet cakes with cream cheese and white chocolate topping…” “Isabelle,” Janie explained. “Isabelle is her name. Isn’t that lovely?” “It’s very pretty,” Sal commented. “Please wait a second; I’ll be right back.” Sal returned to the kitchen and carefully wrote, “Happy Birthday, Isabelle!” on a delicious red velvet cake. The cake was then placed in a large white satin box with a pair of sparkly candles.
He returned the large box to the store and handed it to Janie. “Thank you!” Janie said, her eyes welling up with tears. “She’s going to be overjoyed!” “No,” Sal replied. “Thank you very much. I’d forgotten why I make these fantastic, delectable cakes. It is intended to make special occasions even more memorable. “I’m hoping you and your mother enjoy my cake!” Janie took Sal’s cake to her mother that afternoon, and the sparkly candles were lit. Janie could almost believe everything would be fine because of that wonderful light.