In My Wedding Cake, Bianca Ojukwu recalls a snobbish woman who missed an opportunity to use her wedding to boost her business.
Each time I see this picture, the rather funny but sad story of this wedding cake on the left comes to mind.
I was told by a good friend, during my wedding preparations that there was a lady based at Enugu that makes great wedding cakes. Infact my friend, though not familiar with the lady, offered to take me to her.
Dressed rather casually, I decided to park my own Mercedes and join my friend in her own car, a cute looking but modest Volkswagen (known as Beetle in those days). She drove us to the cake maker’s place.
Upon our arrival, The popular cake maker, (whose name I withhold for obvious reasons) totally oblivious of my identity, took one derisive look at the car we arrived in, and was not impressed. I told her I needed her to make my wedding cake, and she started coming up with all manner of excuses.
First, she told me her cakes were very expensive and I definitely would not be able to afford it (at 25,000 naira in those days), and offered to direct me to a cheaper cake place, stressing that she only makes cakes for important personalities (even going ahead to drop names… such as one Union bank manager, one boutique owner, etc., who in her estimation were ‘dignitaries’). I told her that I could manage to afford it.
She then asked where the wedding was taking place and I told her it was at Abuja. She said I would have to pay for her transportation to Abuja to mount the cake and that since she only travels by air, not road, this added cost would be difficult for me to carry, to which I replied that I would pay. She raised the issue of hotel accommodation, which I assured her, would be taken care of.
My friend kept nudging me and whispering in my ear, “Tell this woman who you are so she can put a stop to these nonsense questions,” to which I replied no.
I was secretly amused, albeit perplexed at that moment about human nature and social climbers, which by her attitude, this lady clearly was. What I found surprising was that the lady herself was definitely not well off, her own car was an old Corolla, her surroundings not plush, and she was merely one of those ‘I must belong by all means’ type of people. Yet she had the temerity to look down on others she considered not ‘rich’.
To cut a long story short, still not convinced that I could afford her services (judging by my casual dressing and the modest ride, which was not even mine, meaning I probably had no vehicle of my own), she briskly discharged us both, telling me to drop my number, and that she would call me. I dropped my number with her under my Igbo name Odinaka, and we left.
I never heard from her again.
I simply took up a generous offer from the Canadian chef at the Nicon Hilton Abuja then, who was a master baker. My gigantic multi tiered wedding cake was made at no cost at all, simply as PR to market and advertise the Hotel’s services.
One day, just a week to the wedding, the Enugu-based cake maker saw the television broadcasts of our impending wedding which was a big event at the time, and realised it was me who had come to her place for a wedding cake.
She flew into a panic and quickly managed to find her way to my house, and started begging, with all kinds of bland explanations, asking why I didn’t introduce myself ‘appropriately’ (by which she meant as a ‘VIP’), and even offering to make the cake free of charge, but it was too late.
On this day, a beautiful breezy day in November 1994, it was a memorable wedding ceremony at the Nicon Noga Hilton (Today’s Transcorp Hilton), Abuja, the first wedding event ever hosted there. And it was grand…
This life size multi step cake seen in this picture, much bigger and more lavish than any conceivable one the Enugu cake maker could ever have offered, was donated by the management of the Hilton.
The Enugu based Cake maker lost a great opportunity to showcase her skills and her product since the event was telecast across the country – on TV, radio, Newspapers, Magazines and every conceivable news medium – with the Hilton Master Baker taking the cake credits. This advertisement masterstroke greatly boosted the Hilton Events hosting business and facilitated countless more weddings at the same Congress Hall at Hilton. Last I heard, the Enugu Cakemaker’s business has since folded after she faced some difficulties in her business several years ago.
Moral of this true life experience is, Never judge a book by its cover. We are all human beings,created equally before God, if not before man, regardless of our status in life. The tragedy of our times is that so many go through this sort of scenario on a daily basis but sadly with a different outcome.
I could shrug this Cakemaker’s attitude off, being myself, a person of means relating incognito, knowing that she could not even scratch the surface of my net worth, and that I was possibly doing her a favour by opting for her services because of the significant publicity it would bring her. But what of my friend in whose car we drove there, who was a modest earner living within her means, and who it became clear, goes through this disdain on a regular basis from these types of social climbing crabs? When did it become an offence to own or drive a Beetle?
The truth is that so many folks are this way inclined, and it is downright despicable. We must never relate to others based solely on who or what they are, what they have, what car they ride or how expensively or poorly they are dressed. Everyday people lose opportunities to forge valuable ties and long lasting friendships because of their snobbish outlook.
……and best of all, when one door closes, another greater one will open by Divine mercies. I lost a molehill but gained a mountain.
HAPPY WEDDING ANNIVERSARY TO ME AND OGA M, DIM CHUKWUEMEKA ODUMEGWU OJUKWU!