Have you ever found yourself in a position where you don't truly know how bad it is until it's too late to get out? You know those types of situations where you don't fully understand the gravity of the disaster that's heading your way until it's right in your face, leaving you no opportunity to retreat? A part-time baker, who we'll call Missy, found herself in just that type of situation when she made the mistake of agreeing to help a couple (and the groom's Greek mother) design a wedding cake. And like any Greek tragedy, this too ends in disaster with no one being left unscathed.
It all started when the couple, along with the groom's Greek mother, came in one morning to design their wedding cake. Almost immediately, Missy knew there was tension between the bride and her future mother-in-law. She didn't know why at the time, but she knew something was up when the older woman sighed and went out to smoke as her son's fiancée grabbed the design book and started gushing over the details about an Alice in Wonderland themed wedding.
The mother's attitude should have been Missy's first sign to decline the project and move about her day, but we wouldn't be here if she took the easy way out. It never works out that way.
"The older woman comes back in and asks what she missed," Missy recalled. "[Her son] shows her the designs they like and she automatically starts to complain: 'No, that's too detailed. That's too plain. That's not big enough. That's too big.' It was like listening to an old cranky version of Goldilocks."
When Missy tried to figure out how many people would be at the reception, the bride-to-be said there would be4 0 guests, but before she could finish her sentence, the mother intervened and said there would be 200. After a back and forth between the two women, Missy tried to step in and bring some order to the room, but it would only get worse.
"Well, why did I even bother coming if no one will listen," asked the mother.
"I don't know why you insisted on coming," the bride fired back.
"My son is getting married! It's my right to be here," the mother cried out.
"He's marrying me. You can come along for planning but I don't need your input. If I want it, I will ask."
After this, the mother said she needed a smoke to calm down and walked out. Missy watched as the future bride and groom sat there in awkward silence before the son was sent out to the "firing squad" that was his mother in an attempt to salvage the meeting. Then Missy and the bride were finally afforded an opportunity to get started with the planning - they worked out the details on future meetings and tastings as well as setting up a system where a special password would be required for any future changes.
The days and weeks went by and Missy thought nothing more of her meeting. But that would soon change when the groom's mother started to call and abuse the bakery staff.
"I was cleaning my station when the phone rang," Missy said. "My coworker answered and said the call was about a wedding cake. I was desperate to go home, but I had to deal with it since I was the only one there today who worked with any wedding cakes this week."
That's when she heard from the bride, or at least someone who was clearly trying to impersonate the bride, on the other end of the line.
"Hello, I was there this weekend with my husband and mother-in-law to look at wedding cakes and make my appointments," the caller said. "I have to make a few changes."
Almost immediately, Missy remember the mother-in-law's distinct Greek accent and everything she tried to pull at the first meeting. The situation had gone from not so out of the ordinary to the stuff of legend with a simple phone call. After she realized what was going on, Missy did everything she could to not allow the mother to mess up the cake.
Remembering the password system she had set up with the bride, Missy asked the woman to provide the passcode so they could get started with the changes. But there was only one problem - the mother (still acting like the bride), didn't know anything about the system. Staying in character, Missy said that the woman could bring in her ID and prove that she was the bride and they could get everything started. When she was met with crickets, she knew the mother-in-law realized the gig was up.
Or was it?
We all know that throwing temper tantrums and impersonating people over the phone so you can change your son's wedding cake is bad, but that's nothing compared to what the groom's mother had planned next.
One day, Missy was running around the bakery like a chicken with its head cut off trying to take care of multiple orders for all sorts of clients.
"I'm running back and forth between the back and the front just long enough to drop off pastries when I hear a familiar accent speaking loudly. My butthole puckers because this is not the day for this. The oven is beeping, so I have no time to eavesdrop. I go about my business and am elbow deep in sugar when the counter girl calls for me. She sounds close to tears. It is worth mentioning that she is 16 years old."
Missy learned that the mother came in and asked to change the order and when the teenager saw the multiple flags in the file from the phone call, she asked the woman for some identification. Big mistake! Missy explains:
"This isn't acceptable to the mother-in-law who proceeds to turn to the other customers and complain about how 'useless teenagers are' and how 'unprofessional and unaccommodating' our bakery is. My co-worker asks the mother-in-law to not bother the other customers, offers her a free coffee and pastry as an apology, and she responds by calling the poor girl a 'stupid brat.'"
Instead of sending the crying teenager back to the she-beast waiting at the counter, Missy decided it was time to take care of this situation, once and for all.
What followed was a back and forth where Missy continually asked the woman to either provide some identification or provide the passcode if she wished to make any changes. After she finally accepted the fact that she wasn't going to get what she wanted, the mother-in-law stormed out of the bakery and jumped into her car.
For some reason, Missy knew that this wouldn't be the end of the shenanigans.
Although Missy knew this fight was far from over, she had no idea the next round would come so soon. Can't this part-time baker catch a break for a change?
"My manager came in shortly after my lunch break and she told me to give the bride a call," Missy recalled. "The mother-in-law came in shortly after and my manager took her into her office. I called the bride and explained what happened. She directly asked me if I recognized the woman and I answered honestly. She asked what time my manager and I were off and said she was coming in."
Setting up for another knockout round in this seemingly endless fight over a wedding cake, Missy awaited the couple's arrival.
"The mother-in-law is still in the office with the manager when the bride comes in along with her fiancè, who looks furious while the bride looks close to tears. I leave them with hot chocolate and donuts while I go to let my manager know they are here. She asks me to bring them back along with a coworker," Missy recalled.
The mother was "absolutely smug" as she watched Missy and her coworker walk into the office, but her expression quickly turned "sheet white" when she saw her son among their ranks. The groom called out his mom as soon as he saw her and even more so when she started speaking in Greek.
"Mom, no. Speak English," he cried out. "[The bride] doesn't speak Greek and you know it. You are being rude. What are you doing here?"
The mom attempted to argue her case and demanded to go to another bakery, but Missy's manager was quick to jump on her and call her out for constantly trying to call and make changes to the cake.
"I knew you tried to change the cake," the bride exclaimed. "We told you over and over that we want a small wedding!"
"YOU want a small wedding, he wants a big celebration!"
"No, I don't. We agreed on a small wedding because we BOTH want a small wedding."
"Don't talk to me like that!" the mother cried out to her son. "I deserve respect!"
Having heard enough, the manager asked the bride if everything on the form was correct, and once the bride agreed, the manager told her that everything was now set and ready to go.
Following the meeting, the mother began yelling in Greek once more before storming out of the meeting and into the wild. Upon the woman's departure, the manager yelled out that the mother was banned from the bakery, and if she showed up again, they were to ask her to leave and call the police.
Early one morning, Missy was back at the bakery getting everything prepped for the day when she heard the phone ring at 4 a.m. She thought it was weird that someone would be calling two hours before the bakery was even open, so she let it go to the answering machine. But then the phone continued to ring every five minutes until 5 a.m. Finally, fed up with the nonstop ringing, Missy finally picked up.
As soon as Missy picked up the phone to say good morning, the voice on the other end started yelling about speaking to someone in charge, "immediately."
"Internally, I said, 'That accent! Okay, don't jump to conclusions. It might be someone else with that same accent,'" She recalled. "But externally, I said, 'I apologize, ma'am, but we are closed at the moment so -'"
But before Missy could finish her sentence, that oh so familiar voice on the other end of the phone butted in:
"No, don't lie! You are not closed," yelled the mother-in-law
Missy made an attempt to convince the woman that the bakery wouldn't open for a few more hours, but was quickly cut off:
"No! I need help NOW! You lie! I know you are open now! Open the door! I can see the lights on!"
"Now, I am going through some stuff right now that has me genuinely terrified about 80% of the time. I am an anxious mess 95% of the time. The only way this woman could see the kitchen light is if she is at our front door with her face against the glass so I overreact, freak out, hang up on her, and proceed to have a panic attack over the sourdough."
And like any good horror movie, the phone rang two more times before finally going silent.
Terrified by what she experienced, Missy texted a warning to her manager asking for help. Missy's manager was there within 15 minutes and Missy finally started to calm down. But that feeling of comfort was short lived when they went outside where they found 20 half-smoked Marlboros right outside the door.
"I had swept the sidewalk/entrance before I went inside, so we think she camping out for a good while," Missy recalled. "My manager decides right then that we're no longer allowed to open or prep alone and there have to be at least two people on shift at all times."
Who camps out by a bakery before the crack of dawn smoking and making phone calls? A crazed mother, that's who!
After the early morning scare, the owner of the bakery informed Missy that she wouldn't be taking any more chances risking her employee's safety and decided to end this once and for all.
"She called the couple, explained what had happened, and told them that she was going to call the police the next time the mother showed up," Missy said. "She said she would understand if they switched bakeries and she would refund their deposit with no problem, but she would not allow her employees to be harassed or scared. The bride apologized for the mother-in-law's actions, assured her there would 'be a conversation about her behavior,' and didn't want to switch bakeries because both she and her fiancé were 'impressed with the professionalism and safety given to the cake.' They also supported the owner's decision to call the police."
If we were dealing with a rational person, this would be the end of the story. Unfortunately for Missy, she wasn't dealing with someone in the right state of mind.
Why was the groom's mother doing this? What was she trying to prove and what was she trying to gain from all of this?
During a meeting with the bride, Missy learned that the mother-in-law had been that way ever since the engagement. She would show up randomly without warning or an invitation, try to take over the planning, and kept leaving messages. All of that sounds familiar, right? Missy also learned that the problem seemed to start with the girl's fiancé; he would never stand up to his mother and said that he was "stuck between two important women." He even tried to argue in favor of having his mom plan more of the wedding because she "couldn't afford to have the wedding she wanted," when she wed many years ago.
"I gently reminded her that this was her wedding, not her mother-in-law's and she laughed. She apparently told her fiancè he could go marry his mother if he was so keen on giving his mother the wedding of her dreams instead of his future wife," Missy wrote.
The bride must have really taken Missy's advice to heart as she quickly informed her that the mother-in-law was not only no longer allowed to help with any of the planning, she was also banned from the wedding entirely. The bride gave her future husband an ultimatum - if his mother is there, his wife-to-be will not be. He agreed to these terms.
But would his mother?
The answer is no. Come on, what did you expect? Did you honestly think she would stop once she was banished from the wedding? Ha!
The endless barrage of phone calls had become nothing more than background noise for Missy and the other members of the bakery's staff. It was the same thing every time the mother-in-law called - Missy would pick up the phone and the woman would hang up. This would go on for hours each morning until someone else picked up the phone. Once she had the unassuming victim on the phone, she would once again try to make changes to the cake.
"I overhear my teenage coworker getting upset on the phone again, so I pause and eavesdrop," Missy wrote. "She keeps repeating that she's sorry but there's nothing she can do over the phone. A few seconds later, I can hear yelling through the phone even though I am several feet away, there are customers in the store, and our coffee machine is going off. She seems close to tears, so I grab the phone from her and listen."
And who was it on the phone? It's the crazy cake mom, of course.
"You girls are so unprofessional and unhelpful! You young people are awful! You're all too busy on spreading your legs for your boyfriends on the computers to understand how to give good customer service! Now are you going to help me or do I have to take my business elsewhere?" the woman yelled over the phone.
"I think it would be best if you did take your business elsewhere," Missy replied.
"What did you just say? Who is this? What happened to the other girl?" the shocked mother yelled.
"I said I think it's best if you take your business elsewhere. And my name is Missy. I am the person you will be dealing with from now on unless you would prefer to speak to my manager."
The woman then tried to cut Missy off, but the baker was quick to yell out, "You have also been told repeatedly that changes cannot be made over the phone. We do not make changes to wedding cakes over the phone specifically to avoid what you are trying to do. If you have concerns about the cake, I suggest you discuss it with your son and future daughter-in-law since it is their cake. Not yours. You are not the customer. You are not allowed to make changes to their order. It will never happen. Now, is there anything unrelated to your son's wedding I can help you with?"
Not happy with her options, the woman hung up on Missy.
As time went on, Missy and the bride struck up a friendship as they bonded over the way the girl's mother-in-law was trying to take control over both their lives. They grew close, confided in one another, and served as a support system through this tough time. One day, the bride came in for a coffee and immediately, Missy knew that something was wrong.
"She told me her fiancè has been asking her to not only reinvite his mother to the wedding but to let her become more involved in the planning," Missy recalled. "She asked for my advice, and I kind of evaded the question. Instead of telling her to flee like Bambi from a forest fire, I told her to try to objectively look at her future, think about what she wanted in her relationship, and the things she was willing to sacrifice or compromise on to maintain her relationship."
The bride thanked Missy for everything and said she was going to think things over and talk to her fiancè about her wishes.
Missy was shocked, but not surprised when the bride called her a few days later in tears. She had ended things with fiancè and the wedding was off.
"She found out he was playing both sides. He was telling her that he supported whatever decision she made while telling his mother that he agreed that his fiancée was being too controlling and he would try to talk her into allowing her to attend the wedding," Missy wrote. "They argued and he accused her of not understanding the importance of family to Greek women and said he didn't want to get married if his mom couldn't attend."
The bride agreed with her fiancè and said that the wedding was a mistake. He, of course, tried to backtrack, but the damage had already been done. His once future bride had already made her decision, and she wasn't going to back down. She was tired of dealing with her fiancè's unwillingness to stand up to his mother almost as much as she was tired of dealing with the crazy woman herself.
It was finished. With the crazy Greek cake lady out of her life, the bride could move on and have a sense of freedom she so longed for.
"She said she is changing her wedding into a 'celebration of freedom,'" Missy wrote. "She is inviting all of her friends that she had to cut off the guest list to make room for his friends and family."
Wanting to get revenge on her ex's mother for everything she had put so many people through over the previous months, the bride decided to make the cake bigger just to rub it in the woman's face.
Following the cancellation of the wedding and the relationship, Missy said the bride moved on from the life she once had with her "spineless" ex-fiancé and his ridiculous mother. It was tough at times, but Missy said her new friend was able to get through it with the support of her friends who helped move the ex out of the house as quickly as possible.
"She is still in the rage phase of the breakup, but is starting to feel sad and betrayed," Missy explained. "Her ex has already started with the normal manipulative games to get her back (apologies, begging, offers of counseling, claiming it was a 'misunderstanding'). She hasn't fallen for it yet."
And who can blame her for wanting to have nothing to do with that guy and his mom? Missy sure doesn't. It's safe to say that the crazy once future mother-in-law/crazy cake lady/stalker won't be missed by anyone at the bakery or anywhere else for that matter.