A remarkably scarlet version of the customer returned to the store and, with the strength of many knights, rocketed his bowl of ice cream onto the once-pristine floor, where the two scoops landed and slid slowly before grinding to a friction-y halt and slowly melting in a sad pool of sugar and cream.
Moments earlier, my meek forearms had screamed as I’d completed the scoopers’ difficult journey through the frozen butter pecan ice cream to create a nearly perfect sphere, collected the scant money from the patron and moved onto the next customer.
I watched as he subsequently stormed off. Then I looked at the ice cream on the floor, in that growing pool of soft, liquidy beige. Then I looked at the somewhat alarmed, somewhat amused line of people who witnessed the whole spectacle, but who really just wanted their ice cream, and soon, too.
On the bright side, by the end of the shift, the tip jar had amassed enough money for me to take home $4. It would only take one more day before I might be able to afford a pastrami sandwich from a neighboring shop.
Admittedly, serving ice cream hadn’t been my summer 2016 dream.
I want only a paid internship this summer, I had told my mom, who simply nodded. Sure, she said.
I can’t wait to see what kind of people I’ll meet at this elusive summer internship, I had told old friends, in not-so-subtle attempts to remind them that I was on the prowl for their shiny summer replacements. I shall return, I promised, with stories galore of Drunk Escapades with New Friends in New Places.
My internship will be fulfilling and substantive, I said hopefully to anybody who might listen. But listen they did not — knowing, as I did deep down somewhere, that this was at best a naïve wish and at worst a willful post-truth.
But these were dreams from before. Instead, I spent the Fourth of July not embarking on Drunk Escapades with New Friends in a New Place, but scooping ice cream at a Berkeley ice cream shop for a parade of ungrateful children, flustered parents and soon-to-be broken-up couples. And it was all for naught but minimum wage.
In these times, however, pessimism abounds, and I, for one, refuse to add negativity to an already-forsaken world. So yes, the ice cream business was good for my soul and my future. No other job could have forced me to learn the intense patience required in waiting for patrons to spend 20, 30, even 40 seconds deciding between a cone and a cup as a frozen dairy product receptacle. Similarly, after the fourth customer in an hour pays for a $1.25 scoop of ice cream with a $100 bill — prompting a notably sour and bitter “$98.75 is your change” to cascade from my lips — I learned that the obnoxious parts of life beat on endlessly, ruthlessly, insatiably — and that they progress unstoppably, regardless of anger.
In fact, as I slowly begin the process of finding an internship for the summer of 2017 in a dramatic and desperate attempt to avoid an icy, creamy fate, I’ve realized that rage control doesn’t really have any place on a resume that traditionally calls for the real formative experiences I have, like “brand ambassador” or “social media expert.”
And this, surely, demonstrates a flaw in the system. Most internships for which I’m applying will involve spending time in the midst of Other Humans, and anybody who has worked in food service — or a newsroom — can say confidently that planet Earth holds no eviler beast than Other Humans.
I’ll tuck it under my skills and abilities heading. Proficient in French (a half-truth), competent with Microsoft Office Suite (except Outlook; what even is Outlook?), able to not murder customers.
Contact Karim Doumar at [email protected].