Baker: Welcome to the Dusty Apron Gluten-Free Bakery. Can I entice you with a cake?
Customer: Yes, a chocolate cake. It’s for some gluten-free veterans.
Baker: Excellent! We can make a delicious flourless chocolate lava cake that was once featured in Tasty Pastry magazine. How does that sound?
Customer: Ooh, the gluten-free veterans would love that. They always get fruit for dessert. How much does it cost?
Baker: For a cake serving 20 people, it’ll cost about $100.
Customer: OK, well, I can only give you $20, so you’ll have to find the other $80 elsewhere.
Baker: Well, luckily, we have other customers who want to help make a cake for gluten-free veterans. At least three of them said they’ll pitch in, and we’ll ask some others too.
Customer: Excellent, so here’s $20. However, you can’t spend the $20 on sugar. You can only spend it on chocolate and up to one egg. It’s spelled out here in this cake baking plan.
Baker: What about vanilla? It’s hard to make a delicious cake without good vanilla!
Customer: You can spend $1 of the $20 on vanilla, but if you decide you need more vanilla, you have to email me about changing the baking plan.
One week later:
Customer: We ordered a gluten-free chocolate lava cake from you guys, and it was awful. It was too dense and not nearly sweet enough.
Baker: I’m sorry, but other customers also had their own conditions. One customer said he would pay for sugar, but not butter. Another said she would pay for chocolate, but we already had you paying for chocolate, so we asked her if she would pay for butter, and she said no. Our oven’s thermometer also broke down, but none of the customers would allow their cake payments to be used to fix it, saying that fixing it does not directly benefit gluten-free veterans. I emailed you to ask if $5 of your $20 could be used to buy a temporary thermometer, since we didn’t need so much chocolate, but you said it would take three weeks to change the original cake baking plan.
Customer: Well, I’m not buying any more cakes from you guys. You obviously don’t have enough baking capacity. Goodbye.
Meanwhile, another customer heard the exchange:
Customer 2: Sheesh, I’m sorry about that. If it makes you feel better, I and a bunch of other customers got together and ordered a blueberry bundt cake from you last month, and it was delicious.
Baker: I’m glad to hear you enjoyed it! I hope we’ll see you around more often?
Customer 2: Absolutely not. We only pitch in to buy a cake from any bakery once. If we keep buying cakes from you, you’ll just become dependent on us, and that’s just madness–madness, I tell you!
Baker: Well, I’m sorry to hear that. How can I help you today?
Customer 2: I just formed a committee to explore why there is such a high rate of nervous breakdowns among bakers, and since you guys were featured in Tasty Pastry, I thought I would ask you to join.
This is an excerpt of an article that originally appeared in Blue Avocado.