Three-quarters of a ladle

As I was working the counter Friday night, and the Volcanic Sundae Guy came in, and another customer ordered ice cream for her dog, I suddenly realized… I HAVE TOTALLY NEGLECTED THIS BLOG!

I guess it would be polite to give everyone an update on the status of my life. Newport Creamery is no longer my only job, as I’ve recently been hired as a substitute teacher in the city of New Bedford, MA. I’ve been going at it for about a month now, and I’m enjoying it much more than I expected (sometimes I wish I could blog about that job too!). It’s opening up many new opportunities and possibilities for me, and I’m looking at this sudden change of course as a sign of good things to come. Needless to say, NPC is now my weekend job, but I will still try to leave good stories on here whenever possible!

Anyway, when the Volcanic Sundae Guy re-entered my life Friday night, I knew in my gut that I needed to keep this site going.

I slowly got into the habit of letting my guard down around him, but after a long spurt of not working weekends, and now a prolonged period of only working one or two shifts a week, he’s changed his “regular” order (not gonna lie, I don’t even remember what his regular order was this past summer).

He now gets fudge ON THE BOTTOM of the cup. Since it was a Super Sundae, I figured two ladles’ worth would be ok. When I asked him, he said, “No way, that’s way too much!” (even though he’s technically paying for three toppings and usually only gets two) “Give me three-quarters of a ladle.”

I seriously can’t imagine someone being any more specific than that. But he was far from finished. After I put in just two of his four (“good”) scoops of ice cream, he stopped me because he wanted, “just a couple of strawberries” in the middle, then the rest of the ice cream, then more strawberries.

We are way too nice to this guy if he feels he can walk in and be this bossy. But it’s too late to turn the other cheek now! Even if we ever did upset him, I know he would come back anyway. He loves getting his ass kissed.

I also had an older woman come in later that night to order a coffee frappe. So, naturally I asked if she wanted two, three, or four scoops. And she was stumped, which sometimes happens when you answer a customer’s question with another question. But this woman looked like she was victimized by the difficulty of the question. So I threw in part two of the frappe spiel. “It depends how thick you want it.”

Courtesy spuddybuddies.com

She was still confused, until she finally said, “Can you recall back to a time when they didn’t offer a choice of how many scoops? How many did you put in it then?” Ok lady, I’ve officially been checkmated. You win in the weird questions competition.

At that point, I just wanted her to leave, so I told her most people prefer two scoops just so I wouldn’t have to go any further down her road of pointless inquiry (and also so she wouldn’t think I was trying to rip her off. I expected the worst after a retort like that).

However, she was not the worst indecisive customer I’ve had to deal with. One time a few summers back, I had someone at the counter who literally had no idea what she wanted. She came up to the counter and asked, “What’s good here?” Being the good employee I am, I responded, “Everything!” She wasn’t amused. It was around lunchtime, and she said she wanted food rather than ice cream, so I handed her a lunch/dinner menu.

She asked me again, “What do you recommend here?” So, thinking off the top of my head (I was a newbie at the time), I told her that our burgers were a pretty popular food item (considering that’s usually what people order while I’m at carry-out).

She acted like maybe I helped her out, but a minute or so later a manager came by, and she caught her attention and asked her, “Are the burgers good here?” Ouch. Way to not trust me, I’m doing my best! L After all that headache, she ended up just settling for a tuna sandwich. Whatever.

 

Noisy Neighbor No More…

So what’s the latest piece of news to come out of the Creamery these days? VANDALISM! That’s right, a regular customer got so upset with the management that he did THIS to our front door!

Courtesy Eric Frati

For those of you in need of background information, this guy works in an office building next door to the restaurant. He comes in often to pick up food, usually a steak quesadilla if I remember correctly. The few times I dealt with him, I found him to be maybe a little cocky, but not excessively.

He liked to call in his orders. I would sometimes answer the phone and get “Hi this is ******** Next Door,” as his greeting, followed by a stunned silence on my part not quite knowing what to say next. He was decent to me, but I could tell he preferred to be waited on by the ladies. I often saw him chatting with the waitresses, but I was unsure of whether or not they wanted to talk to him.

The other day he took his flirtatious behavior a little too far. He came in after what I’m assuming was a long workday doing whatever he does (at this point, I don’t care to know). He was waited on by one of our younger staff members, who is only about 16. All he got was a cup of coffee to go. The whole time he was there, he spoke to her creepily, trying to be seductive. From what’s been said to me, he supposedly told her he was having a “f***ing amazing” day, and while she was pouring his coffee he kept saying, “Pour it baby…”

As I try to picture this scene, there’s no way he thought he had a chance. I guess he was just doing this for his own amusement. But according to the unofficial Facebook feed that came out he was “checking her out badddd”. For the record, customers can get an easy view of an employee’s backside while they are pouring coffee, if they maneuver themselves right (Your back has to be turned to the customer, and you can’t look back at them for long because you have hot coffee in your hands!). She complained to the manager on duty, who is the dependable ass-kicker in situations like this.

When “******** Next Door” came in around the same time the next day for another cup of coffee, he was boldly confronted about his behavior the previous day. He acted like a jerk and tried to avoid answering questions. He even tried to insult his interrogator by inferring he is “only an assistant manager”. Big mistake. The arguing escalated to a point where ******** Next Door stormed out of the place, and kicked the glass on our front door. He only agreed to pay for the damage after the police were notified. He is no longer welcome at our store.

I understand he is a tough act to follow, but I have a customer of my own that deserves to be on here.

That same week, I had a woman at the counter pay me entirely with change. Ugh. While she was fishing through all her coins, she spotted something that “didn’t look right” among the pennies. It was the same coppery color, but much smaller. She handed it to me, baffled, “What is this?” She looked insulted that un-American currency ended up in her purse, and feared she would have insulted me if she tried to pay with it.

To my simultaneous joy and dismay, it was a one cent Euro coin. Cue the random flood of study abroad memories, and a longing to go back to Europe.

When I came back to Earth, she was still questioning it, trying to figure out how in the world it ended up with her. It wasn’t the happy surprise I was expecting it to be for her. She was having an inexcusable attack of xenophobia. It was almost like she was turning to me for answers for some traumatic event in her life, which I did not wish to provide.

She finally came to the conclusion, “Well, I was just at this store in Bristol, fairly close to Roger Williams University. There are quite a bit of foreign students there, I guess that’s how I ended up with it…” I just couldn’t ignore the negative connotation in her voice. What’s wrong with foreign students? Or Europe for that matter? After all, I was a “foreign student” over there just over six months ago…

Welcome to Fall!

This story is absolute proof that I’ve worked a job I don’t care enough about for far too long! As the fall season is now upon us, we’ve incorporated a delicious pumpkin flavored ice cream into our menu. Did anyone tell me? No. This is how I found out.

This woman came up to the counter and asked for a mocha Awful Awful. No problem, made it just like I make them all, keeping in mind that the mix is now a weird, French-vanilla-ish color (does anybody know why?). I handed it to her and took her money. While I’m at the cash register, I hear “this tastes like pumpkin!”

 

Courtesy drfermento.net

 

What? It looked like an Awful Awful when I blended it. It was the right color and texture and everything. But a quick check of the label where the Awful Awful Mix used to be confirmed that I made her a pumpkin-mocha disaster (it actually tasted great).

The pumpkin ice cream was so strong, there was barely a hint of chocolate or coffee, but it was mocha colored. Quite a brainteaser on the first try. Of course, I apologized and made another one, and she was quite amused by this, rather than upset. And in my own defense, there isn’t that much of a difference in color!

I also dealt with a customer whose level of non-observance is on par with mine, or worse. She had a bunch of already hyperactive kids with her on their way back to New York from the Cape. While I was making them all dessert sundaes, we chatted about the area and how I always go there over the summer with my family.

She then decided she also wanted a sundae just like the ones her kids had, and told me what to put in it. I handed it to her and she said, “Oh, I’m sorry… I don’t like whipped cream.” This was not requested beforehand. I attempted to scrape it off the top, but of course bits of it are going to stay on.

“Is this ok?” “I’m sorry… I really hate whipped cream.” She made me make another one. If I were a rude person, I would’ve performed an extremely dramatic facepalm in her general direction, but as I said to start this post off, I could really care less at this point.

I should have told her to watch this epically pointless (but funny) music video. YouTube – “Whipped Cream” by Ludo

On a sad note, for the first time ever, I actually felt bad for a customer who asked if we offered soft serve ice cream. A kid who I would estimate to be about ten years old came in with his mother. He could barely talk, as his mouth was full of various orthodontia. It appeared he had the same set up I had at his age; four brackets on the top four teeth, a lip bumper, and I bet if I looked there would’ve been a pallet expander on the roof of his mouth (judging from his speech).

All the poor kid wanted was a vanilla/chocolate swirl L. I told them both that I sympathized, because I had braces for five years. What was even more refreshing was that they were nice about our lack of soft serve, and decided to settle for hard ice cream and an Awful Awful. I hope I made his day at least a little bit better. He looked so sad!

I would also like to give a special shout out to my hometown friend Laura Lombardo, who, less than an hour before the drive back to her new home in Chicago, decided she needed one last Awful Awful. Now THAT is dedication. And yes, they are that good.

 

Courtesy examiner.com and Kim Edge Art

 

I would like to take this time to apologize for not posting more. To be honest, I don’t have as much to work with because I have fewer hours, because that’s what happens this time of year. As always, send me stories if you’ve got them!

I have to admit; it’s not all bad being in my position. Now that all the kids are back in school (yes, in my eyes all you high schoolers are still kids), working this kind of job leaves time for lots of other antics; like rock concerts at The Met and Lupo’s, and tractor pulls (long story), and getting introduced to scorpion bowls (not a long story), and random trips to Pittsburgh and New York City to reunite with my study abroad friends. Now that I’ve become a weekday worker, I’m making up for all those parties I missed out on for the busier parts of my college career (and doing a damn good job of it).

But on a more serious note, I’m trying to focus less on what I’m doing on the clock in the hopes of moving forward, and it’s looking like the tides might finally be turning for me.

For those of you who don’t know, I’m thinking about pursuing a job as a teacher. Not forever, unless I really like it. I’m currently trying to get a job substituting, as one just needs a Bachelor’s degree and doesn’t need certification to sub. All I need is to pass the Massachusetts Test for Educator Licensure, which I am already registered for. And then a new chapter of my life begins, right? You know I will keep you informed, as always.

I’m not psychic!

Lately we’ve been getting a lot of school kids in the afternoon, getting their sugary fix right after suffering through the first few days of school, tortured by the remaining few sunny days that summer has to offer (it’s not really over until September 21st!).

I had this one kid, who I would guess was still in middle school. He came up to the closed window and pressed his face right up against it. Not in excitement, or in curiosity. The look on his face was actually quite vacant. I slid the glass part open and he jerked back a little bit, and then leaned right back onto the screen, snout first.

Dumb Kid: “Kid I ‘ave uh judior chogoladawful awful?”

Me: “Uhh, sure (shooting him a disgusted look).”

Ordinarily I would have said something, but this is the first week after summer. We’re still busy, and I’m supposed to be working on other jobs, and of course no one can help me because it’s busy. This time around I had EVEN MORE of an incentive to go fast.

A little while later, a mother and daughter came to the window with the good fortune of having me as their server.

Mom: “Can I have a junior coffee frappe? And she wants a junior mocha Awful Awful.”

Girl: “Medium.”

Mom: “Small.”

Girl: “Medium.”

Mom (to me): “I’M THE MOM!” And that was that.

Courtesy zazzle.com

I also had this seemingly normal woman come up to the window and ask for what I could’ve sworn was just a simple cup of ice cream. I brought it over to her, “Can I have hot fudge as well?” So I added fudge to the cup, no big deal. I bring it back to her for the second time. “That’s not a sundae!”

Seriously? Do people really listen when they place orders? I could’ve sworn she just asked for ice cream. I had to remake everything in a bigger cup since that’s what she really wanted. What a waste of time. To make sure I wasn’t crazy, I looked pleadingly at our beloved manager Gary, who heard everything. He said, “You know what your problem is, Lucas? You’re not psychic!”

A couple days later we got one of those heart-stopping busloads. Whenever a bus of some kind pulls into the parking lot, everyone assumes to prepare for the worst. One time I was working by myself and ended up with a crowd of about 20 kids after some kind of field trip (that was actually kind of fun). So I decided this time around it was best to stay on the floor and help out our new manager in training, Don Jr.

This time around only a few people got off the bus, which looked quite full from inside the store. It was a busload of senior citizens, and thankfully they were very nice (they aren’t always). Some ordered “small” cones and some ordered “kiddie” cones. There’s a difference of almost a dollar between the two sizes.

Then a woman who looked like she was supervising the group came in and ordered a few cones for people who couldn’t get off the bus. She asked specifically for “smalls”. We made the cones first for her to give to the people on the bus, and then she got short with us when we gave her the total. “WHAT?! But I asked for smalls! The size that costs $2.30! I thought you knew!”

Thought we knew what, exactly? That she was with the group, yes. That she wanted just one scoop each, no. As I’ve already established, our problem is that we’re not psychic.

Courtesy failblog.org

I explained to her that a small is two scoops (and in the back of my mind was thinking, “You didn’t realize the cones were all two scoops when you took them?”) and that it actually cost $3.09. A kiddie is $2.30, and just one scoop. Thankfully, she accepted it as reality and didn’t put up a fight.

Added bonus: later on that day Don Jr. had a young girl at the counter wearing the full uniform for La Salle Academy, and she ordered, “a 32 oh zee Awful Awful… whatever oh zee (oz.) means.” Wow. Just, wow. Kids who go to a preparatory school are supposed to be like, wicked smart, aren’t they?

A Shout Out to My Fellow Bloggers

Hey Everyone! I just wanted to take this time to pass along a few other interesting, slice-of-life blogs that are out there demanding your attention.

Emily Grund was a classmate of mine in the journalism department at UMass (and one of our class speakers at graduation!), and she just started a two-year stint with the Peace Corps teaching English in the Philippines. Not exactly something you read about every day. So far it sounds like she’s having the time of her life!

Peace Out America, Peace Corps Philippines

One of my co-workers from backstage at the UMass Fine Arts Center, Kat Lovell, is also keeping the world up to date with her life. With a job like that, it’s anything but dull, especially with the shows and tours she’s been working on this summer (outside of UMass!).

Taking a Leap

And last, but certainly not least, is my hometown friend Alessandra Grima, who I’ve known since forever. She writes about whatever is on her mind, and she’s damn good at it! Seriously, she is laugh out loud funny. You won’t be disappointed.

Alessandra Speaks

I did plan on sharing one more blog, but some intense Google searching has brought me to the conclusion that it no longer exists, which is just a shame. I’ll post it back on here if anything changes.

If anyone else out there has a blog they want me to link to, let me know and I’ll spread the word (if it’s good).

On a more serious note, reading all these is giving me the idea to try and “move forward” somehow with my writing, and try to pull off something similar to these links.

The thing that drew me to journalism, and got me to love doing it, was writing about seemingly “ordinary” people, and digging deep down beyond what’s ordinary about them. At this point in my life, I feel sometimes that I can be my own best subject in that sense. I’m already writing about my “awful” job (which hasn’t led to as many entertaining stories this summer as I expected… sorry about that), but what about everything else?

My story is ordinary. It’s one that countless people my age are faced with. I’m three months out of college with a certain skill set, and barely any idea what I am going to do with it. Sounds boring, right?

But what got us to this point is always different. And what we’re all doing about it is different. And I’m willing to put it all out there for the sake of keeping the writing part of my brain alive. I have no idea what’s going to happen to me any time soon, and I hate it. So, there is a new blog on the horizon. I’ll keep you all posted.

Customer Creations

One of my biggest pet peeves that has yet to be addressed on this blog is when customers order things that do not exist on the menu and/or in the computer. Isn’t it annoying when someone says or does something weird, and they think you are weird because of your natural response to it?

Probably the worst of these “it doesn’t exist in the computer” incidents was during my newbie carryout days. It was the middle of a hot weekday, and there wasn’t a whole lot going on. This grumpy guy wearing a jacket and tie came up to the window with his wife, who was very sweet. She ordered a small ice cream, and he ordered a small root beer float, which we just don’t charge for.

Looking back on it, I could have charged him for a small soda with a scoop of ice cream, but it probably would have cost him the same as a float anyway! And most likely would have made a huge fizzy mess. All I told him was that we don’t make small floats. He was being a huge jerk about it, but eventually consented to a normal-sized one. I could tell right away this suit-and-tie guy thought I was really stupid.

At his request, I put a cap on it, which as any smart person knows, is a recipe for disaster. About ten seconds later, this thing exploded all over him and his suit and tie! It’s the only time I’ve ever been screamed at by a customer, and I couldn’t have been happier, because that D-bag totally deserved it!

I had his credit card in my hand at the magic moment. “DO NOT CHARGE ME FOR THIS!” In his fury he thought I already rang it out, but thankfully I didn’t. I gave him the card back, and his wife paid with cash. She was horrified (and perhaps embarrassed?) that he yelled at me in public.

Back to modern times, last week was yet another crazy Awful Awful Monday, and this elderly man came up to the window. He was not very coherent. His words were all stretched out, and I could just barely make out “32-ounce sugar free Awful Awful.”

There are two things wrong with that statement. First off, he was trying to buy one 32 ounce AA and get one free, but the deal only works with 24-ouncers. Secondly, THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A SUGAR FREE AWFUL AWFUL! They are just syrup and iced milk (I’ve said this how many times now?), and you can’t really have syrup without sugar.

I politely said to him, “We don’t make sugar free Awful Awfuls. I can make you a frappe with no sugar added ice cream? But you won’t get the buy one get one deal if I do that.” He just repeated his barely-syllabic rant.  And I had to keep repeating variations of the rant you just read. I don’t think he understood me at all.

We came to what I thought was an agreement; two 32-ounce frappes, chocolate and vanilla, no sugar added. So I grabbed two cups and walked on over to the no sugar added ice creams on the other side of the restaurant. As usual, there was no scoop in the scoop well, so I went back to carryout to grab one. When I got there, my boss said, “He wants two Awful Awfuls!”

Dammit, what a waste of time! I only hope this guy isn’t diabetic or something, but apparently he did that to us the previous week, and the fact that he is still alive after that makes me confident that he’s OK now.

I also have an interesting non-menu item that someone got mad at Kayla Poling, and myself, for not knowing (which, in retrospect, is quite stupid on their part). Kayla came up to me panicked one day because somebody asked her for a “milkshake” but just with syrup and milk. I figured she just meant a flavored-milk, which is stirred by hand. The customers heard us talking about this, and chimed in, “No! It gets put on the blender!” They looked at us like we had two heads, but to us they were the weird ones because nobody ever asks for that!

Now, to put this in perspective, in Rhode Island such a combination is sometimes referred to as a milkshake. But I never thought anyone would get that specific about it. What does it matter? How would they know the difference? And the question that crossed my mind shortly after… if you know the “recipe” better than we do, why don’t you just make it yourself at home?

Two lame guys and a relentless tattoo

First off, I’d like to apologize for not posting more often. I’m barely getting carry-out shifts aside from Awful Awful Monday, which is putting a damper on the volume of stories in comparison with last summer. This week was a life saver for the blog!

On Wednesday night, I had these two guys around my age come up to the window, and one of them points at the other and says, “He’s never had an Awful Awful!”

Of course, I had to explain to the Awful Awful virgin that such a drink just might be the best culinary invention that Rhode Island has to offer (like the good employee that I am). I figured his friend would want one as well, but he declined my offer despite his insistence that his friend try one. “I’m actually a vegan now… but I fully endorse Awful Awfuls!” Whatever that means. He then flashed me a thumbs up and a cheesy grin.

While I was making the “out of towner” his drink, I asked him where he was from. I was very disappointed to get “Boston” as an answer. I was hoping he’d be from the West Coast or something. The fact that someone lives only an hour from Rhode Island, is twenty-something, and never tried an Awful Awful before is lame sauce. And I could tell the vegan guy was re-considering his dietary choices when I served up a good old coffee AA with extra syrup! That’s pure southern New England right there.

The next night I had to fight with myself while waiting on the very last customer. She was nice, and perhaps a little tired. But what made her so memorable was the extremely low-cut shirt she was wearing. To make things even more awkward, she was sporting a huge tattoo on her left bosom that was demanding my attention. I have no idea what it was, because I know if I looked at it head on she would have noticed and not been very happy with me.

She took a long time to figure out what she wanted, and every second she paused was another second of me telling myself “No! Don’t do it!” To top it off, I’d clock her at about 40 years old. Plus she was with a group of people, so she probably didn’t want me to look down there.

I was afraid the late hour would get the best of me and my eyes would suddenly droop, but I guess I’m just that much of a gentleman. She left as a satisfied customer; acting as if there was nothing unusual going on.

Last night also gave me access to a story from Allegra Costa. She waited on these two older women who ordered burgers, and one of them said something to the effect of, “Don’t screw up my order and get me a senior burger! The last time I was here our waitress did that.”

Allegra: “Well she probably just assumed that was what you wanted.” For the record, senior burgers are a little cheaper than regular ones.

Customer: “Why?! Because I look old? I wanted to punch that girl in the face!”

Allegra laughed it off and put the orders in the computer. A little while later she crossed paths with Chelsea Carvalho, who just happened to say, “Hey I remember those ladies. I got their order wrong last time I had them…”

Think you have a restaurant story that’s better than that one? Send it to me! Because it belongs on this website! Lucasjoecorreia@gmail.com.