I’ll be honest: hot July Friday nights are the absolute worst. Did they want chocolate or vanilla? Were there nuts on the sundae? “I can help who’s next!” The mint chocolate chip needs to be changed! And why is the soft serve machine beeping again? I just filled it!
They always say that you never like your first job. You end up working at the local burger joint, working retail during the worst holiday season, working at some place where you watch the clock until you can leave. I was lucky enough to stumble into my first job, which I started on the last day of sophomore year in high school, barely a month after I turned 16.
And my job is actually pretty sweet because I work at a family-owned ice cream shop in my hometown.
To get in, it’s more of a “you have to know someone” situation, and thankfully, my mom happens to be good friends with the owner’s ex-wife. I was hired sight-unseen by my boss, and according to him, I was one of the few he never met until the first day. I’m not sure how, but along the way he found out I’m a Red Sox fan—he’s a Yankees fan—and he’ll give me score updates during my shift.
We all start working on the register, where you have to decipher what the customer is telling you, translate it into our shorthand lingo, tell the order to the girl who’s “making” that night, charge the customer, and don’t forget: “Have a good night!” Once you’ve mastered the window, you’re trained by one of the older girls to make the orders. Making a perfect soft serve cone doesn’t happen on the first try, and we’ve all overflowed a sundae more than once. It’s definitely a learning process, and there’s a flip-side to a new girl who’s making: we have mistakes to take home.
The basic principle of life applies to ordering ice cream: treat others the way you wish to be treated. Yes, I’m only taking your order for a small vanilla cone, but don’t be rude about it. The customers we like the most are the ones that are polite, nice, and actually know what they want.
How can you be grumpy when you’re ordering ice cream?
Some girls I work with are embarrassed to say that they work at an ice cream shop, but for me, it’s typically one of the things I lead off a conversation with. I had to overcome my fear of working with the public and not take myself so seriously because we all mess up. Working there has become second nature for me: I can name all of the hard ice creams and yogurts in the freezers and make a hot fudge sundae in about 30 seconds.
I’m in my ninth season now, and I work only on the weekends since I work full time during the week. It’s an easy job that gets me out of the house, and I love the girls I work with. They’ve become like a second family to me, and you can be sure to find us talking about boys during our downtime. Plus I get to wear a t-shirt, athletic shorts, and sneakers, so I can’t complain.
PS: Spoiler alert—rainbow and chocolate sprinkles taste the same.