Sugar and Spice and People Who Aren't Nice


My generally very good-natured friend Alan is English and thus has no macho issues with things like wearing pink or his devotion to sweets. He’s a man who uninhibitedly finds great happiness in a “pudding” or a “cakey” (what we might call a “dessert” or a “pastry”). He's the kind of guy that jumps for joy.

Every Friday before he goes off to the biotech company where he works as a scientist, he and his wife Jina get themselves over to Tartine for a breakfast treat. It’s their endearing weekly ritual.

Happier days at Alan and Jina's: The remains
of a positive Tartine experience.

But the other Friday, there was trouble in paradise. It was a beautiful morning and they arrived dutifully at 7:40 am (10 minutes after the doors open) in an attempt to avoid the inevitable wait. “He was so excited,” recalls Jina of the anticipation Alan felt, standing in such an unusually short line. There wasn’t much out from the kitchen yet, which happens at a small bakery like Tartine. Nevertheless, when the guy in front of them asked for the ham and cheese croissants, which apparently were still in the back, Jina indicated to him that she was looking forward to having one too.

“But he didn’t just take a few ham and cheese,” she says, “He took them all!” Then the man proceeded to buy all of the morning buns, on top of that.

Left with little to choose from (“it was like Poland!” Alan later bemoaned), Alan got to the woman working the cash register and told her, “What that guy did? That really fucks me off!”

Romantic pastry ritual—over.

Jina was pissed at Alan for swearing at such an early hour, and Alan was still sulking when I saw them back at home. I told Alan, “What’s you’ve experienced, I think is called cakey rage.”

I talked to Liz Prueitt, the co-owner and pastry chef of Tartine, about this result of their popularity. “It’s such an issue for us,” she says. Although they’ve tried to tell their employees that customers aren't allowed to order more than a dozen at a time of any given pastry, without advance notice, “People will come in and try to strong arm a new staff person,” she says. “They’ll stand there and pitch a fit. If you ever want to see adults reduced to 12 year old behavior … it’s so maddening!”

The moral to this story? Well, there’s the obvious one: Order ahead, which you'll be able to do on their website soon. Because no matter how much you hear the siren call of the morning bun—no matter how blindingly the sugar may sparkle—no matter how much you're thinking your office mates are going to be indebted to you forever when you arrive with the goods—have some compassion for your fellow pastry fans. Karma comes in many different flavors, including orange cinnamon-sugar.

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