Saturday, June 27, 2009

My First Job - Part 2

I knew I was going to get this job. How could they not hire me, come on? High school girls with fresh spiral perms were practically bred to work in squeaky clean ice cream shoppes. As soon as I got home, I fantasized about my new job as I unpacked my bedroom. I planned all the things I was going to buy with my future paychecks. Number one - I wanted to buy every single Smiths tape there was. I wanted to have the whole collection and I would stack them up next to my tape player in chronological order. Two - I wanted a black turtleneck from Gap, yes even though I lived in Florida now where the heat was already pretty much unbearable, but still. Then I wanted a book about love spells because I wanted to be a witch and cast love spells on my boyfriend back in New York which would make him never, ever leave me ever. I also wanted some ballet slippers. Real ones. I wanted to start a trend where it would be cool to wear ballet slippers as actual shoes. (Now, I did actually do this, however the trend didn't catch on, people would not stop asking me if I was a dancer, which I was not, and let me just tell you, there are hard balls in the toes of ballet shoes that kill if you try to spend an entire day walking around in them, so this was a terrible idea.)

My parents were very proud that I had taken the initiative to work and they were happy to take me back to the ice cream shoppe with my filled out application.

The owner wasn't old, but he walked with a cane. It wasn't a charming wooden cane. It looked like it came from a medical supply store and was metal and grey rubber, all right angles. Something about it reminded me of when people have hooks instead of hands. The owner wore army pants and a black tee shirt that said POW MIA and had a flag on it. I had no idea what that meant. He drove a pick-up truck, which was parked in front of the store and the truck had the same stickers along with a huge American flag painted on the back window. I was used to this sort of thing though. I'd seen plenty of it in Millpond.

"You never worked before?" he asked.

"No!" I said perkily on purpose, "This is going to be my very first job ever!"

"You smoke marijuana?"

"No, of course not!"

"You sure? Because I don't put up with drug users."

"No way."

This was true of course. I had never even seen drugs before. I would in a couple of months, but at this point, I was still very innocent.

"Ok, go in the back, take an apron off the hook, put it on and you can start."

He told my dad to come pick me up at 10:30.

"Don't you close at ten?" I asked.

"There's clean-up."

I wondered what clean-up was.

He showed me where everything was: extra cones, huge cans of pineapple and strawberry topping, boxes of pre-crushed cookies, malt balls and gallon containers of hot fudge. There was a special way to stack waffle cones. You couldn't drip the hot caramel or it would get sticky and be a god damned bitch and a half to clean up. If people wanted more than one topping on a small they had to pay for a large. Most people'd want cones and you had to learn to pack the scoop into the cones without breaking them. Broken cones had to be logged and accounted for on a special chart. More than three broken cones per pay period would result in docked pay per broken cone. Cones are expensive. You just can't go around acting like they grow on trees. These things cost money and cost profits. Now, the customers would try to see what they could get away with. Customers, the owner explained to me, were out to rip you off and you had to be sharp. They'd be asking for water, but cups are thirty five cents a piece wholesale, so you had to direct people to the water fountain outside the Xtra if they wanted a free drink. Never give anything away for free, he told me. Because that's what people want, especially all these New Yorkers moving down here. They just wanted something for free and he wasn't some kind of chump. They weren't going to take advantage of him.

I figured I could manage. I was a bit horrified. I certainly hadn't pictured the owner of this lovely little ice cream store to be a redneck, but I could deal. I mean, think of it, ALL the Smiths tapes in a perfect row gleaming in their little plastic cases. I especially loved when the tape inserts unfolded like an accordion with all the lyrics printed like microscopic poems.

The one thing that really shocked me was the most important rule of all.

"Rulo Numero Uno, aside from the no marijuana, NEVER EAT THE ICE CREAM. I catch you sneaking bites of my ice cream you will be fired on the spot."

This to me, was absurd. Wasn't the whole point of working in an ice cream shopPE to be able to have as much free ice cream as you could hold? How could someone be expected to work around ice cream without actually eating any of it, ever? That was ridiculous. But, ok. I was making a whole $3.35 cents an hour. For that, I could resist the temptation. If I worked a hundred hours I would have $335.00. And that was a lot of money.

"Another rule I have is The Blacks. I don't care who comes in here to enjoy a frozen dessert, now. I'm not a racist. I fought alongside of plenty of blacks in Vietnam and didn't think nothing of it. If people want to come in here and spend their money and have a good time, I'm fine with it. But I don't want trouble and these Blacks'll try to come in here and raise hell in my shoppe and I'll not put up with it. I don't want them in here acting like a bunch of gorillas in my place of business, so if that happens, you throw 'em right out. You call the police. If I'm not here, you call me and I'll see to it they leave. This is a family establishment."

Was I actually hearing this? Did he actually say gorillas?

"Something else is the Spanish. This place is full of the Spanish and I got another rule. My shop is in the U. S. of A. We speak English here. So if you come in here and try to order in some other kind of language, you're outta here baby. You're in America, learn the GD language. I mean, if you or I moved to Mexico, we'd learn Spanish wouldn't we? I mean, come on. I don't put up with it. I don't sell El Ico Creamo. I sell ice cream! American ice cream."

By this point my stomach was cramping.

I had worked for less than an hour, and already I wanted to quit. All this and we hadn't even gotten to "clean-up" yet.

To be continued...


Jeannie said...

We had a very large ice cream counter in the 2nd restaurant I worked in (largest turnover in the region for that brand). We got to eat all the ice cream we wanted. After all, we had to know what the flavours were like. Of course, we couldn't stand there stuffing our faces when we were supposed to be working but we could sneak a quick wooden stick thing full whenever (customers could also have a taste this way) or have a bowl on our break. If too many cones broke, we'd complain about the crappy cones and open a new box. We also got to eat whatever fast food we wanted except the rib-eye steaks. I really don't think the cups cost 35 cents either. Your boss was just a cheap S.O.B.

Ayda said...

hahahhaha this sounds just like my recent experience with the coffee shop. why are so many business owners racist, crazy old men?

Anonymous said...

I have never worked in an ice cream shop, but I had lots of friends who did. The number one thing they were told to do was eat all the ice cream they could handle. The reason was, after about a week or so of that, they would never want to sample ice cream after that. Must have worked, 20 years later, those same friends shudder at the thought of eating ice cream.

MtnMama said...

oh my, the closest thing I have to that is when I worked at a Tavern that had been owned by the same old Jewish couple for 50+ years. When I worked for them they were in their 80s, still running the Tavern.
They wouldn't serve women who walked in alone. They assumed they were all "loose" and kicked them out. It was "awkward" to say the least.

Seryan said...

Ayda, while many small business owners are charming, competent people, there seems to be a small number of them who own their own business just because no sane HR department on the planet would have them.

Anonymous said...

A guy I used to work for told us to be nice to the "colored" people when they came in. Then he would have the security guys follow them until they left the store.

Hilary said...

You sure to paint a vivid story of a place and time.. with a cherry on top.

My guess for POW MIA on his shirt.. in military terms would mean Prisoners of war/Missing in action.

G.H. said...

Good heavens. What an experience.
Just found you blog, and I love it.

Anonymous said...

You weren't allowed to eat the ice cream? That's inhumane! I once worked at a crazytown candy shoppe, but we were still allowed to eat whatever we wanted (as long as our mouths weren't full while talking to customers).

Lady Jane said...

I love it! You-ballet wrestling shoes ( and no I wasn't a wrestler..i'm not even a boy...but did start a trend) I also worked in an ice cream shoppe for my first job ...then after two months I got let go..the owner never actually told me..he just stopped putting my on the schedule...hmph... loved your post

Kim said...

I have good news for you! The last 3-6 years or so Dreyers (I think they're Edy's over there on the East Coast?) have been selling pumpkin ice cream in the months leading up to Thanksgiving. It's pretty good.

It seems to usually disappear between Thanksgiving and Christmas in favor of the candy cane flavor...but it definitely exists. I can guarantee this as I have been buying every year since I first saw it.

In fact, there are two options
Slow Churned: (which I prefer)
and Grand:

Cold Stone also seems to have a pumpkin flavor usually around holiday times. I don't know if you have those over there...but you've gotta have something along the same lines that *might* get the pumpkin ice cream.

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