Valerie Helm of Brooklyn, New York, drew a small crowd Monday afternoon when she entered a local bakery unaccompanied and purchased and consumed a single slice of cake for a snack.
The counter boy initially thought he had misheard her. “Yeah, girls come in here all the time because we have these miniature cupcakes. You know, like if a cupcake had a tiny baby. So I just thought she was confused.”
The unnamed employee, whose nametag said “CASH,” asked Helm to reiterate her order a whopping 320 times. “I mean, who just gets a slice of cake as a snack? When it finally hit me what she was doing, after she’d left, I realized just how brave it was.”
“It was a moment of clarity,” says Helm, “It shook me at first, but I realized that I just wanted a slice of cake — and then I realized I could ask for a slice of cake. It’s packaged like it’s a snack, so why not get exactly what I wanted? So I took a deep breath, I walked to the counter and I did.”
Ginny Cohen, who was in the shop with her five-year-old daughter when the incident occurred, says she was in awe of Helm’s courage. “She was calm but assertive. She made her request so elegantly. She said, ‘I’d like a slice of cake, sir.’ And I thought, ‘Wow, my little girl is growing up in a world where this sort of thing is possible.’”
According to witnesses, the exchange between Helm and the counter boy took approximately 35 minutes. “She stood her ground,” said Ms. Cohen. “She was not leaving until she got that slice of cake.”
“I totally forgot we even sold slices,” said the counter boy. “But she just wouldn’t leave, so eventually, there was this crowd and I realized what I had to do.”
After the employee gave Helm her slice, she shocked the crowd by proceeding to sit at a table, open the package, and consume the entire cake slice in front of everyone. Many people shed tears as they looked on at what Gary Plummet, a 45-year-old sanitation work, called a remarkable feat of bravery.
“That broad’s got balls. I haven’t seen a woman scarf cake like that since my grandmother died. She was a baker. Had hips like a wrecking ball,” says Plummet.
Helm was able to maintain composure by reminding herself that muffins have about 450 calories but are, for some reason, the more acceptable snack.
“I want to eat cake so others can eat cake,” says Helm. “Also, I have kickboxing on Tuesdays, so I’ll even out the calorie intake tomorrow. It’s not a big deal.”