Aside from some light housekeeping I did for two of my elderly neighbors when I was a teenager, my first real job was at an Arby’s restaurant. Three full summer months of grease, customers and roast beef. I wish I could say that this was a positive experience. The positive part was that employees could buy any menu item for half price. I could order a junior roast beef sandwich with one squirt of cheddar sauce for 53 cents. I suppose I did learn some valuable skills while working there. Skills like how to get yelled at and then apologize 10 times for something that isn’t your fault. “I’m sorry sir. We have to cook some hot fries for your order. They will take 3 minutes to cook. I’m so sorry for your wait.” I’m sure the skill of restocking the individual sauce packets in the dispensers has come in handy sometime during my adult life. There were two duties that were my least favorite. One was being schedule for the closing shift because it required mopping the floor (which was always gross) and the other was working the drive up window. People are incredibly impatient at the drive up. They already get to sit in their car and wait for their food, but then they complain when it takes longer than 5 minutes to make, package, bag and receive their food. It was quite an eye opener for me and I hated when customers got mad. I try to be really patient now, especially if it’s a teenager taking my order at a fast food restaurant. I remember how flustered I used to get.
Sometimes I just feel for these kids. Can they really handle this type of work? Do they have enough street sense to work with the public? (I know I didn’t) Are they over stressed? I wondered about this even more one summer evening when I drove to a locally owned hamburger and milkshake shop for a treat with my kids. I pulled up to the window and ordered 3 ice cream cones and a medium coke with easy ice.
“I’m sorry, what was the last item?” The girl didn’t hear me right.
“A medium Coke, with easy ice.” I repeated.
“Um…OK. Easy ice?” she sounded confused.
“Yes. You know, a small amount….just a little ice, please.” And don’t make me go into the whole sensitive teeth issue. You’ll understand in three decades when you’re over 40.
“Oh…um, OK.” She really didn’t sound convinced, but gave me my total and I pulled forward waiting in line with two cars in front of me. Ice cream from this particular shop is very popular and the wait is always well worth the tasty treat.
My turn finally came and I pulled up to the window. There were two people working at the drive up. One was a mom-aged lady who was the manager (bless her patient heart) and the other was the young girl who had taken my order. I paid my money and sat casually watching what was going on inside while I waited. I noticed the teen using the metal ice scoop to pound on something near the soda machine. My view was partially blocked by the ice cream machine, but she was really working hard at whatever it was. The window had been left slightly open and so I heard the manager ask the girl what she was doing.
“That lady wanted her ice little. So I’m breaking it up for her.” I realized I was the lady…and for some reason, she understood my request for “a little ice” to literally mean SMALL ice cubes.
It was all I could do not to burst out laughing. I could almost read the manager’s thoughts as she stared at the girl in disbelief, “Really?? So you’re hammering the ice into smaller pieces?” but she held her tongue and told the girl to just put a couple of ice cubes in the cup and she was sure I would be content. I was content all right. I laughed all the way home!