I’ve heard this story so many times that I’m not sure if the storage rooms in my weak memory are holding the details of the actual event or my father’s retelling. Nevertheless, I can picture myself perfectly in that bubblegum-pink shirt behind the Baskin Robbins counter as my parents walked through the door.
My dad walked up with a smile for his daughter working her first job, but before he had a chance to say anything, I laid out the rules for this lover of vanilla ice cream:
“I can’t give you any breaks, Dad.”
He hadn’t asked for a break, nor would he, yet I felt the need to make the policy of the owners of that little Baskin Robbins in Georgia known from the get-go.
But what kind of daughter doesn’t give her father a break, rounding out that ice cream cone with an extra-large scoop of vanilla?
Perhaps it was the influence of the ice cream-drill sergeant-owners. After all, they did have a scale on the counter so that we could measure our scoops. They did have a separate rate for their employees for that first week of training that was below minimum wage (although, in fairness, I got minimum wage for catching on so quickly). They did give me a surprise written test after I had been an employee for at least a month to ensure I knew the difference between a ‘float’ and a ‘soda’ and could list the ingredients in a ‘freeze,’ even though, had I forgotten, there were ingredient cards on the back counter.
And they did discourage us from taking our two free scoops each shift with their measuring stick and pay incentive. Yes, they actually measured the amount of ice cream left in the buckets versus the number of sales. If our profit margin lay within a certain amount, we would get an extra nickel per hour added to our hourly pay. If it were within the next level, a dime, and the next level a whole quarter! Obviously this kind of money really adds up when one works, at most, a four-hour shift, two to three days a week.
I was obviously thinking of my co-workers. I didn’t want to be the one to ruin the pay incentive by taking my free scoops. I didn’t want to deprive them of extra money for college by rounding out my dad’s ice cream cone. Think–they could buy an extra pillow for their futon by the end of the summer!
So before my dad even ordered, I told him ‘no.’ No, there would be no extra ice cream for him.
What kind of daughter does that to her own father? A daughter with a heart as cold as the Rocky Road she scoops.
And, yet, I went home every night with my chocolate-stained, bubblegum-pink shirt, proud that I rarely took my free scoops, and when I put in my two week’s notice, my boss’s voice cracked as he begged me to stay. Sure he wanted me to stay–think of all the nickels I saved him!
Now, as I relive that moment in my mind, I have to shake my head. What was wrong with me? Why didn’t I bring home a scoop of ice cream for my dad every shift I worked? Why didn’t I sit around the table with my mom while I told her about my day over a cup of ‘Quarterback Crunch’?
Because I was a rule-follower, an over-achiever, a goody-goody. Yet, I realize now that sometimes following the rules too closely is anything but good. When I look back over my life thus far, it’s not the rules that I broke that I regret the most.
It’s the ones that I didn’t.
Dad, you will get the biggest scoop of vanilla ice cream I can muster at Chloe’s birthday party this weekend.
What is a memory from your first job? Have you ever followed a rule that you wish you would have broken? Linking up with Mama Kat today. Come back with your own post for ‘Journeys’ tomorrow!