October 14, 2008

The World's Most Expensive Cupcake*

*or what we have here is a failure to communicate

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. We were barely into the first act of
A TALE OF TWO CITIES and Jeff was already bored. "Is it almost over?" "How much is left?" "Don't you want to see what happens to the characters?" "No." As ever, I started second-guessing myself. Would MARY POPPINS have been a better choice? Maybe I should have explained the plot beforehand.

Luckily, Jeff was able to make it through a long first act and he enjoyed the second act and the surprise twist. "He (Sydney Carton) tricked them and switched places!" With great relief, we left the theater but had several hours to kill before seeing
SPAMALOT. Time for a treat. I had hoped to make my way out of the crush of tourists swarming 44th and 45th Street, but Jeff had seen the cupcakes at Junior's Bakery. He and Meiya grabbed an outdoor table and I made my way to the end of the queue. I dutifully picked out a fancy cupcake for Jeff and a treat for myself.

"Hey, may I have some tap water to take a pill?" I asked the counter man. "No." He gestured to a case of bottled water."

"That's OK then," I signed the credit card slip, balancing my purse, my purchases and dodging the onslaught of American Girl Place shopping bags and their owners.

Looking at my receipt, I stopped. "Did you charge me for the water?" The total was $24.30.

"No water," the counter man replied, turning away to box up a few cheesecakes.

"This can't be right." "It's right," said the second counter man, gesturing me to move along.

"Did you want the water?" First man points to the cooler. "Take the water."

"I do not want the water. I have been overcharged."

All three servers had long since ceased making eye contact and had moved on to the next customers crowding the tiny storefront.

I stormed back across the street, and railed at Jeff for insisting on a cupcake in the biggest tourist trap in New York. Meiya looked at my tiny bag--two pastries and a can of pop.

"Unless this is a twelve-dollar cupcake, I don't think this is right," she said diplomatically. We had already found out that unlike here in Illinois, where one gets an itemized receipt with a purchase, in New York, you are handed a register tape with the total only.

I slunk back to the bakery, emboldened with every step. "Excuse me, Joe. You waited on me. I was overcharged."

Joe was conciliatory. "Go ahead, take the water."

"I don't want water. I want this corrected."

Second counter man came to Joe's defense. "You were rung up at the other register."

The tourist crowd began to shift uneasily in the queue. I stayed put. Joe, possibly sensing my determination, stepped into the back room to summon the manager. I handed over the receipt on which I'd written the three items I had purchased. "Sorry about that." He handed me a new receipt. The amount was $5.29.

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