The Scoop on First Jobs

I’ve come to discuss first jobs. Yep, as in the one you teenagers may be working right now. Or, for the younger crowd, the one you may want to work in the future. Or, for us oldies, the one you worked far, far in the past. I’m not telling you how far in my past. It’s far, like grab a pair of binoculars and stare into the distant past far…while still squinting and pretending to see unclear objects that were once my youth.

First jobs are exciting. They put money in your pocket. They give you a sense of independence. You learn what it is to have a boss that you don’t call ‘Mom’ or ‘Dad’.  You forge new friendships with co-workers, learn to potentially loathe customers and are on the fast track to adulthood and real life living! It’s a wonderful first step in exploring who you are outside the environment you have always been accustomed to while growing up.

My first job was working at Ben & Jerry’s. That’s right, ice cream heaven. I grew up in a lovely resort town in Florida and it was a mecca for old people and tourists. Believe me, Ben & Jerry’s was one busy place. My older brother (whom I adored and still do) was working there when I decided I wanted to give it a go. I was ready for a slice of independence.

I felt grown. I had a boss I had to answer to, a boss I had to look in the eye. Well, let me be clear, he had a wandering eye so it was best to aim for the middle of his forehead. It was much, much safer that way.  And, if that wasn’t hard enough? His last name was slang for a part of the male genitalia. The poor guy had two strikes against him out of the gate. I’d probably want to eat ice cream all day if I were him, too.

My uniform consisted of all different kinds of Ben & Jerry’s shirts – some with sayings (Cherry Garcia, man!), others tie-dyed, a few with cows.  I think back now to those digs and wonder how I pulled it off while still remaining somewhat cool (I was cool, I swear). I sported Vans and jean shorts with a baseball cap (you know, for sanitation reasons).  I scooped ice cream on the regular. I was a scooper, ya’ll. Let me tell you, this is not nearly as easy as it sounds. The first few weeks you realize how quickly you must bulk up in the arm department. There was many a night I went home with sore forearms from digging into repeated frozen blocks of cream. I’m talking manual labor, people! You could feel the burn as you tried to dig up enough ice cream to pack someone’s cone or cup. And the people who came in wanting a pint or quart packed fresh? Ohhhh, those people, they were right up there with the people that ordered cappuccinos. I HATED making cappuccinos. Espresso grinds. That weird cup with the handle thingy. Steaming and frothing the milk. It was all so tedious. This was before Starbucks was big (How’s THAT for dating me?).

I learned what was in EVERY flavor. It was a job requirement. People asked constantly, ‘What’s in this? What’s in that?’. I used to get a weird satisfaction out of rattling off , ‘Oh, Chubby Hubby? That’s fudge covered peanut butter filled pretzels in a vanilla malt ice cream with fudge and peanut butter ripples.’ But maybe they didn’t want that.  ‘How about some Chunky Monkey? That’s banana flavored ice cream with dark chocolate chunks and walnuts’. The list went on and on. If nothing else, I bet it totally enhanced my memorization skills for future high school and college use. Ice cream as a study tool. Totally.

I loved making those waffle cones. I loved the way you stepped into the store and it smelled SO good. I loved the sizzle of the iron as you poured the batter on, waiting for it to become crisp enough to transform into a lovely vehicle for your ice cream to ride along in.  I loved the music we listened to (someone cue Oasis ‘Wonderwall’). I loved the people I worked with and the friends I made. I also loved picking out all of the good stuff in the ice cream with sample spoons (no double dipping!!). That’s right. I would take out all the good chunks of brownie or cookie dough or heath bar or oreo. You name it. I didn’t need the ice cream, I wanted the goods IN the ice cream. I’m sure this was absolutely against some kind of code. So sue me. It was like being a kid in a candy shop, I mean, I was a kid in an ice cream shop!

It was a brilliant first job. I was 13 or 14 years old with some money and a little bit of freedom working with people I dug, digging into ice cream I loved. I couldn’t have asked for more.

How about you? What was your first job? Are you working it now? Are you reminiscing like me? Tell us all about it! And, while you’re at it, tell us your favorite Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavor. We know you have one!

Photo via Businessweek.com

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