I've got to post this under my "alter-ego", just in case. I'm normally very professional, but I'm simply fuming today.
In addition to my normal cake orders, I also donate (FREE!!) cakes to the local hospital for children who are having birthdays while they are hospitalized. Since I can bake for people with food allergies, and the hospital knows what's in my cakes - they are happy to have me doing this. And I LOVE doing this for kids (kids are my weakness)!
HOWEVER (yep - you knew there was a but here, right?) - they always wait until the LAST MINUTE to call me up. Most of the children I have delivered cakes for are in the ICU and have been there for a MINIMUM of a week (some have been there for a month or even several months). The nurses KNOW when the child's birthday is... but wait until the afternoon before (usually around 4 or 5 p.m.) or the DAY OF the birthday to call and request a cake.
They know, no matter how short the notice, I will not say no to a child. I don't want to punish any child because the nurses are inconsiderate.
Yesterday, I got a call requesting a cake (the call came in around 4, as usual) for today. Only it wasn't for a child - it was for a child's MOTHER. Yep. Seems the mom was going through a hard time and the nurses wanted to do something special for her (so why didn't THEY bake her a cake?) Well, I hadn't done a cake for the hospital in a couple of weeks, so I agreed, but told them I couldn't have it there until between 4 and 5 this afternoon.
Then, I got a call around 1:30 p.m. today from the patient coordinator saying that they knew it was short notice, but since I was already delivering a cake that day, could I also do one for a child who was there and turning 2.
OY!!! Granted, I am a professional, and I can decorate a cake quickly - but there's no way to speed up mixing/baking/cooling time!
I was covered in powdered sugar, batter and icing when I delivered BOTH cakes at about 4:45 this afternoon - and put on my prettiest smile for the nurses. But inside, I wanted to put one of them in the ICU. Heh.
I got to deliver the cake to the 2 year old, and he had just had surgery that day and was crying in pain. When he saw the cake, he stopped crying and got excited. THAT is why I do this - and it just makes me so angry that I might have to deny a child (and myself) of something like this because the nurses can't put a little more thought into it before the fact.
Ok, I'm done venting.
Maybe you should tell the nurses or whoever, that you don't want to take a chance on not being able to get one done in time for a sick child, sooo, could they please at least give a couple days notice? If you have too many orders, you may not be able to come through every time. Good Luck!!!
Wow, you are a very kind hearted person!
While this would frustrate me too (and I promise you, there is no way on earth I could get a cake done that easily), I would probablly just take in a deep breath and deal with it. If you think about it from the nurses's side, they are being incredibly compassionate to ask for a cake for the mom. It sounds like they really care about their patients! Just keep some frozen cakes around for last minute orders, and continue your kindness. You are doing a great thing!
My warmest hug coming straight to you for doing this! Like you said, the smile on that little babes face was the payoff!! I just wish the adults, who should be smart enough to know better, would get off their duffs and take care of these things a little better. I mean, a doctor wouldn't call them at home and tell them they need them in there in 5 minutes to prep a patient for sugery, and they'll only have 30 seconds to do it!! Sheesh!
But bless you for bringing happiness to an otherwise bleak situation!! You've got Karma on credit!!!
I hope this does not sound mean but you basically have trained them to call you at the last minute by coming through every time. You should give them a written set of quidelines telling them how much advance notice you must have. You also need to specify who you are willing to bake cakes for. They will not take you seriously until they call at the last minute and you have to say, I am sorry I can't do it. They don't understand what is involved, and since you are able to come through like you do they will continue to think you can throw a cake together at the drop of a hat. I think you are such a wonderful person to donate these cakes.
I love that you do that--so nice. I think they would completely understand if you tell them that you must have at least 2 days notice on the cakes. After all, you are doing a great thing by giving it to them for free, the least that they can do is give notice. Are these mini cakes? If they are then, I would also do a lot at one time and freeze them.
I am tearing up just reading this. You are an amazing person for doing this for these children!!
It's funny - because with PAYING customers, I am very strict. If anyone places an order with me with less than 48 hours notice, I charge them a 10% or $5 rush fee (whichever is greater) - and that's only IF I want to do it (I've said no many times). I have my customers trained. It's just these darned nurses who won't get a clue! I've made sure I tell them "I'm not sure if I can do it, let me see if I can rearrange a few things and get it done. I'll call you back in the morning." I want to let them know it IS an inconvenience - but there's really no way I'm going to say no to one of these kids.
The whole reason I started doing this was because 17 years ago, my 1 month old son was hospitalized for 6 weeks after having brain surgery - and I saw firsthand what happened (and didn't happen) on children's birthdays. Parents of sick children are often caught up in emotion and stress - that they forget that they can still make the child feel special - even in a hospital room.
I agree with Melvira ... you have Karma on Credit!!
The part of your story that made my jaw drop to the ground was "since you're delivering one this afternoon anyway ......"
DELIVERING is not the same as BAKING/ICING/DECORATING!!!! Geesh, for as smart as nurses are, that was pretty dumb of them!
But yeah.... you've got them trained that you can do it in a couple of hours, so why would they think they need to give 2 days notice? I *SO* understand your passion for this (when I was 16 years old, my baby brother died in an intensive care nursery at the age of 3 months old ... I saw kids and babies that should never have to go thru what they were going thru!) and I can only imagine how hard or impossible it would be for you to be 'harda$$' about it.
Is there any kind of pattern to the orders? I mean, are you doing one cake a week type of thing? Maybe you can arrange with them for Wednesdays to be cake-day and they can have the birthday party for the kid with the birthday that week?
I can think of a few reasons as to why they wait until the last minute (not pleasant reasons, so I won't elaborate), but I do think that you shouldn't have to have one second of anger related to such a special cause.
I do all of my baking for charities or donations to charities. I do have to turn requests down at times because I'm human & I have a life, too. It's a real buzz-killer to have to turn down someone because they thought calling at 5pm for a cake at noon the next day was OK--but I give them some tough love and they usually get the message and call earlier the next time.
Please talk to someone at the hospital who can tell you the best way to make certain that you have no less than 48hrs. notice for a child's cake (if something goes awry in that window, you can freeze it for another time, right?).
Sometimes the social worker for each unit is the best person to go to (I was a NICU/PICU social worker and I always coordinated the outside services for each child--I had more time and thought about things that extended beyond immediate care). Perhaps you can think back as to which unit(s) you deliver to most often and make a point of callling the social worker for each one. Have the SW let the nursing staff know at rounds that cake requests MUST go through the SW--heck, the SW could just make a note at rounds of the kids in house who are having birthdays over the next 3-4 days.
I can tell you that I would have LOVED to have someone like you call me when I was working!!
Polekitten, I can certainly understand your frustration. I only bake for friends and family and they always wait until the last minute. As others have stated, the nurses may wait for other reasons but they really might not notice birthdays until they are posting notes on charts or something.
But, WOW, you are one special, wonderful person to do what you do! I salute you for helping those sick children have a special birthday even though they are in the hospital. I got teary eyed just thinking about your kindness. I also want to thank you on behalf of the mothers.
Thanks so much for all your replies!
I'm feeling a bit better about this. The problem is simply that I feel like I have no choice in the matter. If it is at all possible to make the cake - I will do it, no matter how short the notice.
I just feel like if I get firm with the nurses, they won't want to call me at all - and I don't want to give up doing this.
I guess I need to keep some frozen cakes handy (I give them 8" rounds) and always have extra buttercream made. The problem with the cakes though, is that some of them need to be diabetic friendly or gluten free, etc. I can't keep some of everything in the freezer - it might be months before I need that type of cake. *sigh*
Alright, now that I'm done grousing, I guess I'd better get back to work. I've got a throwdown cake to finish.
Maybe you could gather the nurses and decide on one nurse to be the one who is in charge of calling you for birthdays. Sounds like they could be a bit unorganized and they probly just dont "get it". You cant just churn out a cake in a few hours, especially one that is specific to the patients needs.
You have a heart of gold by the way!!!!
What a wonderful thing you're doing!
Can you come up with a sytem where you, say phone them at a set time every week and ask if there are any birthdays coming up in the next 7 days? You'd still get late notice for any new patients, but it might help "train" the nurses to check on birthdays. I'm wondering if you get so many late notices because the nurses don't pay attention to birth dates (I know you say they know when the birthdays are but having had a baby in Special Care, they'll be so rushed off their feet that they probably need a trigger) and it's sometimes the parents who happen to mention it in passing the day before (or similar) along the lines of "it's XXX's birthday tomorrow, I can't believe we're spending it in hospital" and that triggers off the birthday cake request.
Agreeing with what all the others have said...there's a special place in heaven for you. Your description of how the children react was so touching.
But practical matters DO have to be considered, and suggestions from others are very good. All the ideas could be combined to help ease your load...
Freezing a few to have on hand, one point of contact, and "cake day" are ways to subtley (sp?) let them know that you are not an on-call delivery service, but a kind, caring professional.
I understand you want to keep doing it - you make me want to volunteer myself! Maybe there could be a network of Cake Central Cake Angels. Then if one Angel was busy, another could step in.
You deserve lots of (((hugs))).
OK so first off let me say that what you are doing for those children who are so sick that they have to be in the hospital for their birthday is SO sweet, and a huge gift of kindness!
Being an ICU nurse myself I know that it may seem to you that they are waiting till the last minute...but they may not be sure that the kids will be their the next day...sometimes doctors will discharge or transfer the patients with very little notice. The Nurses may just be waiting so that they don't have a "wasted" cake on a child who got to go home.
I think that the service that you provide is AWESOME!!! actually really wish someone in my area did something like this.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for doing this for these children. Unfortunately, we spent a lot of time in Riley Children's Hospital in Indianapolis. We saw amazing children in some of the wards. It takes so little to make a child smile. You are truly a special angel. God bless you.
As Bonnie151 said, maybe call on Monday, or whenever it's convenient for you, and just ask if there are any birthdays coming up that week. At least then you'll have a little bit of a head start. And, if it's really a short notice and you don't have time for a cake, maybe some cupcakes or cookies. They don't take as much time as a cake to cool and with some icing and a few sprinkles, the kids will love them. HTH
Thanks for making MY day better. Just knowing there are people like you out there makes it a better place.
You guys are making me blush!
I'm no saint - I just love kids. (I must, I have 5 of them!)
I'm no saint - I just love kids. (I must, I have 5 of them!)
Ok, that confirms it... you're actually NOT a saint... you're just completely insane by this point!! I'm just about to welcome my second, and I'm not sure I have the brain power left to handle it! hahahah! Kidding!
But I'm glad you came here to vent and get the icky feelings out so that you can concentrate on the good feelings associated with what you do. It's likely that they (the nurses) will not be able to change how they handle this, but you can come here and rag a blue streak when they do it, then deliver the cake with a smile!
No need to post this one under your "alter ego" - you're a kind soul!
And you ALWAYS have a choice. I like the idea someone gave about calling on a certain day to check for birthdays. Or maybe when you do a delivery, stop and ask if there are any coming up that they know of.
I think if you say things in a certain way, it won't come across as firm. They just don't know any better and they won't unless they're told. They obviously think you have cakes sitting around waiting and don't realize you are baking each one as requested. Cupcakes is another good idea.
Thank you for what you do!
I don't know what to say, I haven't seen too many people doing this. I agree with all the ladies that you should somehow make people at the hospital realize that you cannot get the cake done in such short notice.
But, I have a suggestion if it is workable. Why don't you bake some of these cakes (which can be given to allergic kids) ahead of time when you have some free time and freeze them. You can mark them which one is for what and (most of the kids are either allergic to some fruit, nut or dairy as per my knowledge, yes there are some with gluten allergy, egg too) I mean the basic things that you get requested most of the time. Pull it out of the freezer when such a last minute calls and decorate it. (Easier said than done) I am no expert in these, so if I am wrong, please forgive me.
YOu don't need an alter ego to write that! You ARE a saint! There is nothing wrong with the way you are feeling. Maybe you can give the hospital some guidlines (Like you need 48 hours notice). They probably just don't understand that you are not working like a grocery store or regular bakery.
What a wonderful person you are! Have you thought about bringing them cupcakes. They are quick to make and children love them. I know I have cupcakes on the brain lately but my Grandchildren love to lick all the frosting off and get it all over their face.
I have no new advice to add, but I too want to commend you on what you are doing. It's wonderful to know that there are caring people like you still left in the world. Reading about the 2 year old's reaction made me tear up a bit. I hope you can find a way to make this a little easier for you. If not, like Melvira said, at least you know you can come here and vent, and still be able to make a child's day a little better.
Thank you for doing what you do.