I ignore the annoying bell that rings every time the door opens. It rings twice as much in the winter when the wind pulls it open and shut for ghosts. I walk behind the counter, greeting my partners as I pass to the back desk. It’s busy today. Of course it is, it’s a Saturday. We are the only store for miles. I pinch closed the clasp of the nametag through my shirt. Pulling my visor over my head, I step up to the register. Then I realize there is a customer waiting at the ice cream counter.
“Hi, how are you today?” I ask. “What can I get for ya?”
“Oh hi, we’re good thanks.” The woman answers, her three children tugging at her shirt.
“Do you know what you want yet or do you need a minute?” The shop is getting busier now and I don’t have time to stand here for 5 minutes while they stare at the menu board.
She hesitates and says, “Yeah, I think we’re ready.”
Great. I think. Here goes another 15 minutes of my time.
“So what can I get ya?” I ask.
The first kid whispers something inaudible to his mother and she whispers back in a strict tone.
She finally says, “He would like mint chocolate chip please.”
“In a cone or a bowl,” I ask. “One scoop or two?”
“Just one scoop is fine.” Whining begins shortly after she says this. I being scooping the one scoop and ask again,
“Bowl or cone?”
“Cone,” she says as I plop the scoop onto one. “Actually you better put it in a bowl too.”
“No, I said.” The woman scolds. “One scoop is plenty.” Then the child begins to cry.
“Actually, can you make that two scoops, please?”
I go back to the counter, grab a scoop, open the cabinet, scoop the ice cream, and plop the second scoop somewhere between the bowl, the cone and the first scoop.
“Alright, who’s next?” I ask.
I work at a small gas station/convenience store in upstate New York. We have a slight problem in our shop where most people stay a couple weeks or a couple months, then quit or get fired. I am still not sure how I have lasted this long. I want to quit at least three times a week, sometimes three times a day. I’ve made it past my one year mark, I’m on my fourth manager, and I’ve seen more coworkers pass through here than immigrants on Ellis Island.
Despite the managerial problems, there is much more that would make a person want to quit this job. I basically do the job of a Pizza hut employee, a Subway worker, a janitor, a Dunkin Donuts worker and an ice cream shop employee all at one place at the same time. Plus, we run a gas station/ convenience store. I probably get twice as many creepy customers than all those people combined. There is a daily swarm of old men who can’t resist hitting on young girls. The amount of times I’ve been given numbers by them is too many to count on my hands and toes. The worst customers are the rude and ignorant ones though. I’d take the grimy old men over them any day.
Most people that come in the store are there on a daily basis. I either have seen their face a million times before or I will never see it again. We call them “regulars”, and most of us can predict their purchases before they even come to the register. Steve will buy a pack of camel blues, a pack of marbs and two six packs of Budweiser. Every. Single. Time. We even have codenames for them since most have never told us their names. There’s our personal favorites, “creepy military guy” and “brick tattoo guy” who can’t seem to help having a completely irrelevant conversation with you, the same one they’ve told every single time they come in, while acting super sketchy the entire time. Then there are our actual favorites, like Nick, the only ones whose names we do know, and my adopted grandparents Bruce and Judy.
The worst part of this job is the constant backstabbing from other employees. There are only a few people who I can actually stand to work with. The rest of them are always complaining about doing their job and often make me do it for them. What makes me the most upset is the amount of times people don’t show up for their shifts or make up ridiculous excuses as to why they can’t make it to work. And out of the entire year I’ve been there, I have been the one to pick up the slack when needed. Only recently have I started saying “no” to the requests to fill holes.
My shift is ending and I see a customer come up to the ice cream counter. This time, it’s an old couple that squints at the menu trying to read it from a foot away. I look to my partner, Stephanie, and whisper to her:
“Those two are all yours…”
“Oh, thanks.” She answers sarcastically.
I quickly print my partner report and sign the bottom in chicken scratch. I snatch my purse from the back and fling off my visor, letting it knocking over some papers on the desk. I reach the door and let the bell ring one last time. It is sweet music to my ears.