[Note: This post, which originally appeared on Tuesday, January 15, has been edited per the request of my employer. Names have been omitted and information has been clarified, in case anyone reading this blog was under the impression that Bark is an accredited news source on the subjects of ice cream and ice cream stores.]
Oh, were you waiting for me to finish the joke? Sorry, there isn’t actually a joke. (Though I did find this bizarre mention of kangaroos and German shepherds in a Wikipedia article titled “Phantom kangaroo.”) No, instead what I have for you is the story of a magical encounter, one that’s weird even by Spokane standards.
First, a little background. I work at a chain ice cream store, which shall remain vague and unnamed for the sake of protecting the feelings of the ice cream and other frigid entities. I started working at [the ice cream store that shall not be named] in high school, worked there on breaks through most of college until both of the stores near me closed, and then found myself back there this past summer when I was in need of a job. As far as jobs go, it’s really not so bad. (In fact, I quit a two week stint at the Safeway deli in favor of this job because I was convinced I was going to chop my finger off in the meat slicer.) It’s not especially labor-intensive, though at least five customers a night will lean over the glass partition and deliver some version of the line, “Wow, you must get really strong arms working here.” It’s not any more unsanitary than other jobs in the food service industry, it’s not intellectually demanding, and it seems to be a curious trend across this particular unnamed ice cream store franchise that the bosses visit as little as possible, leaving us kids to run the store on our own—a fact, lest I be misunderstood, which I really appreciate. You rarely find that kind of trust at other corporate establishments, where you can get the feeling they’re looking over your shoulder in a creepy, Big Brother–esque manner. And wouldn’t that be a drag? Plus—free ice cream!
Still, I know people my age who work salaried jobs at places where they aren’t required to wear an apron. Who wants to be in graduate school clear across the country and still working their high school job on weekends? (This is definitely the part I left out at my five-year reunion this past fall.) But to be honest, I enjoy my job too much to be embarrassed by it, even though I kind of feel like I should be. Sure, there were the three days this summer the air conditioning broke, the ice creams were melting in their pans, and our bosses saw no reason to close the store—and why should they when summer is the time the store makes bank, and really what’s 91° inside a store in July anyway?—and sure, sometimes college students think it’s funny to tip us, then cross their arms and stare—as though we’re going to burst into song or start twisting balloon animals or something ridiculous like that (can you imagine??), but it’s the strange and unexpectedly human moments that really make up for it. (And I know how many calories are in that shake you just ordered, you fratty doucher waiting to drop a dollar in the tip jar.)
So, because New Year’s Eve happened recently enough to not be totally unrelated, I’m going to count down my Top 5 [Ice Cream Store That Shall Not Be Named] Moments of All Time. Eat your heart out.
5. The day a co-worker told me that the mouthwatering pictures of ice cream we post on our menu are actually crafted using mashed potatoes. Of course, this is totally unsubstantiated and not even close to insider information—which I wouldn’t be allowed to reveal if my bosses had ever had me sign my employee contract—but I’d like to believe it’s true. How goofy! How quaint! Mashed potatoes! (Plus, in this totally random photo I found by Googling pictures of ice cream store products not necessarily produced or endorsed by the unnamed store for which I work, it kinda does look like mashed potatoes. Am I wrong?)
4. The day a lady came into the store, ordered a sundae (which we don’t really do), said it was “highway robbery” that the price was over $3, said she hadn’t brought more than $3 because that’s how much it was at [different ice cream store that shall not be named], paid me the $3 she had and said she’d bring the rest tomorrow, then left with her ice cream.
3. The day a girl came into the store and asked, “What kind of ice cream would you recommend for someone whose boyfriend just got in a car accident and is now in the hospital?” (The answer was chocolate, obviously, and don’t worry, he was fine.)
2. The day a man came into the store and, unable to contain himself, told me that nothing had been confirmed yet, but that they may have just discovered oil on his family’s land in Idaho. He wasn’t allowed to tell anyone else, but who the heck was I going to tell? You shoulda seen the look on his face.
1. This was a tough call for the top spot, but how about the day a guy came in with a baby kangaroo in his backpack. Ok, this just happened on Saturday night and I can’t stop talking about it and if you’re Facebook friends or Twitter friends with me you definitely already know, and really it’s the only reason for this post, but guys. A BABY KANGAROO. It poked its little ears up when he unzipped the backpack and I asked if it was a rabbit. Dude laughed at me and proceeded to tell the next group of customers that walked in how I’d thought his kangaroo was a rabbit, while I yelled defensively “I only saw its ears!” from behind the counter. How a kangaroo is surviving Spokane in January beats the hell out of me, but I later learned from my co-worker that Kangaroo Man acquired the kangaroo in Texas, that he breeds them here, and that they grow to be six feet tall. He also had two German Shepherds waiting outside and said he breeds and sells those for $5,000 each. He also tipped us $15. Doesn’t get much better than that.
[Note: Although they never denied the truth of the statement outright, what seemed to offend the corporate heads at (the ice cream store which shall not be named) the most was the suggestion that their pictures of ice cream were in fact made of mashed potatoes, which is interesting because 1) who cares! and 2) they were utterly unconcerned about a wild animal having been in the store, which is a clear violation of the Washington State Retail Food Code, Section 6-501.115: Prohibiting Animals. Turns out corporate folks are just as susceptible to the charm of kangaroos as the rest of us! Awww!]