Profiles of People Who Gave Me a Job
Part Five – The Country Scoop
Through my friend Ted, I got a job at an ice cream shop around the corner from my house. It was a very strange situation. While the owner of the place didn’t work there, he lived right down the street in eyesight of the shop so you were always looking over your shoulder to see if he was coming in for one of his surprise visits. His name was Ed.
On my second day there I was working with two girls. In the middle of this busy Saturday they decided to take a break together, leaving me alone at the helm. I think the most instruction I had gotten up to that point was a ten minute primer you could have titled, “How to make a single scoop ice cream cone.” So when they left me all alone and the next customer ordered a hot fudge sundae, I knew I was screwed.
I can still see the sundae I made for this guy. The whipped cream looked like a dog turd sitting on top of the ice cream. It was ugly. And I guess it’s burned into my memory because right then the owner, Ed, walked in making one of his surprise visits. He comes in just in time to see my mediocre scoop-work and hear me tell the customer, “It looks ugly, but it will sure taste good!”
Ed pulled me aside and said, “Boy, you need to learn two things: how to make a hot fudge sundae and how to ask for help.”
When I started at the Country Scoop they had me doing the ice cream stuff. That was the easy job. But after I while I was “promoted” to the grill side of things- cooking fries and hamburgers. This was a good thing because you can only eat so much ice cream during your shift in the back room. If you know how to cook burgers and fries, too, you’re able to sneak a much more balanced meal into the back room. Instead of a huge oreo shake for dinner it was now huge oreo shake, fries, and burger for dinner.
Since Ed lived down the street, you had to be very careful about sneaking food. The bathroom was a good place to hide out, and if you were working with someone cool, you would take turns covering for each other.
I always thought it would be fun to work with Ted, but it didn’t pan out very well. We had too much fun. Ted would be in the back inhaling the propellent out of the whipping cream cans, or turning off the radio with a solid kick from his foot. One night we changed the radio station from its usual quiet soft rock to a cranked and frantic mexican station. Of course, this was the moment of Ed’s second surprise visit to one of my shifts. I’ll never forget it. He walked in, calmly went to the radio, turned it off, and walked right out without saying a word.
We were never allowed to work together again.
Ted had been hired by the previous manager, who knew him from church. To hear Ted tell it, she was always going on about her yeast infections. I was never around for any of that. I was hired by a pair of co-managers, Kevin and Sarah.
We were supposed to close the store at 9pm. No exceptions. Then you’d put up the chairs and start mopping. So one night, at 9:05, this guy starts knocking on the door and is begging me to let him and his kids in. They had just attended their school concert and he wanted to buy them ice cream. At first I told him no, but he wouldn’t let up. So I figured I’d get him his cones and get him out of there quick. I was all alone, so I figured if Ed didn’t look out his window no one would ever know.
The guy comes in and starts ordering banana splits- stuff that takes a lot of time to make, and now I’ll have dishes to wash, etc. Big mistake letting him in. He even starts pulling chairs down off the tables so they can eat in the shop. All in full view of Ed’s house!
Just then co-manager Kevin walks in to check on me. What a nice surprise I have for him- some jerk with his kids waiting for their sundaes. I remember Kevin being upset, but he actually rolled up his sleeves and helped me make the sundaes and hurried the guy along while I finished closing the store.
I kind of liked Kevin after that. That’s why, when I decided to get a mohawk, symbolically giving the finger to society, I did it right before I was working a shift with the other manager, Sarah. We never really hit it off, and I knew my new six-inch mohawk was going to be a big deal in the sleepy suburban ice cream shop.
Joey and Aaron cut the mohawk right before my shift. It looked awesome. I was so excited to stick it to Sarah. She was going to be so pissed off at my surprise.
I go down to the shop, walk in with a big smile on my face, and there’s Kevin. He had switched shifts with Sarah. His jaw drops and he says nothing. He just stared at me for a long, unbearable moment.
The rest of the night was very uncomfortable. All the customers who came in were seriously freaked out at my haircut. You could really feel the vibe. After an hour or so, word had gotten back to my parents. We all laugh about it now, but they loaded my sisters into the car and drove over to see my hair. They pulled up and sat in the car watching me through the window, heartbroken and bawling that they’d lost their son.
First thing the next morning my dad got me out of bed and took me to a salon and had them cut off the mohawk. The nice lady convinced him to leave a little stripe of hair, maybe a quarter of an inch high. “You don’t want him bald,” she told him. It looked ridiculous.
After the forced haircut I went in to work. Kevin gave me the news. He, Sarah, and Ed had talked it over. I was fired.