How May I Help You?

For the past four summers (this summer being my fifth) I have sold my soul to a very delicious ice cream store. While it’s by no means the worst minimum wage job out there, it has given me a unique experience dealing with customer service that I would love to share. That experience being that customers are the worst. If you have ever purchased ice cream in any form, you’re probably already on my hit list so watch your back. Specifically, I have come up with ten categories of customers, dissecting each of the specific ways they suck the life out of all high school and college employees who are unfortunate enough to come across their paths.

1. The Baseball Team: If hell exists, it is definitely the feeling of looking into the parking lot and seeing a mob of 10 year olds in the same color shirt. Not only does this increase the volume of the store by at least ten decibels, but all of them are trying to outdo one another with their orders, meaning plenty of milkshakes, banana splits, and other orders that take as much time as Kim Kardashian’s marriage.

2. The Illiterate: Granted, our chalkboard menu can be hard to read, but it’s pretty hard to miss two 8×5 feet boards entitled “ICE CREAMS” written in red and all caps. Yet you would not believe the number of times customers come in and the first thing out of their mouth is, “Where are your flavors?” And not just people with seeing eye dogs, but young, sprite youthful people who have years before they should become too lazy to look above eye level.

3. Failure at Health Consciousness: If you have made it through the door, you are already failing at your diet so don’t pretend like anyone is judging/caring about how many Weight Watchers points you’re consuming. “Do you have anything fat-free, sugar-free, gluten-free, with no artificial flavors?” We do actually, it’s the paper cup that your ice cream will be served in.   

4. Retired Cute Children: Depending on the noise level of the child, cuteness can fade extremely rapidly. Yet there’s something about 8 year old children that are trying to hang onto their glory days like the cast of Dance Moms. And like those lovely mothers, children are just embarrassing themselves when their cuteness, in fact, expired years ago. Sorry, honey.

5. The Mute: Like Congress, lots of families that come in believe they need a spokesperson to order for all of them. Also like Congress, these families never get anything done. There have been times when I have approached 15 year old children, asking what they want and they will silently point to their father/elected representative to answer for them. If you are old enough to shop in the PINK section of Victoria’s Secret, you are old enough to order your own ice cream.

6. Dairy Experts: These customers are those who are up tight enough to order a “freshly packed pint,” since the ones we packed three hours ago aren’t fresh enough. And really, when we’re dealing with frozen sugar packed with syrup and chunks of butter, freshness is key. Since we pack our pints in front of the customers, a lot of times their experience with purchasing ice cream four months ago really comes in handy. Because if I didn’t have a 45 year old woman yelling at me across the counter to make sure I pushed down the ice cream far enough, how would I ever be able to complete my job?

7. Professional Complainers: Some people have very little in their lives, this is probably the biggest lesson I have learned from customer service. For instance, the customer who complained because there were two stems on her cherry must have an alarming amount of time on her hands to spend it yelling at my co-worker for 20 minutes. Not to mention the legendary 60 year old woman who quite literally had a tantrum in the middle of the store when we were out of Key Lime Pie.

8. Teenage Wastes: I don’t know about you, but 10:59 is usually the perfect time to get ice cream. And not just ice cream, but lots and lots of shakes. At least this is the internal monologue of most teenage boys as they drive around in packs of 8 people their parents’ Jeep convertible, playing a fun little game of how late they can come in and still be served. It’s a blast for all involved!

9. Lonely Narrator: Not only have a learned more than I ever cared to know about middle aged women ordering ice cream, but I get to hear their entire process of how they decided on their current flavor, which usually involves a thrilling tale of rushing from Jazzercise to the grocery store, concluding with a hilarious antidote of what time their husband gets off work. Yes, everyone needs someone to talk to, but that should really be a marriage therapist.

10. Too Patient Parents: Since most of the children I know love flavors like coffee and apricot moscato, it’s pretty important for parents to read them every. single. flavor. Multiple times too, so their 3 year old is properly cultured and ready to get the exact same flavor they always get.

Since that was the longest written rant I have ever gone on (and trust me I have more), I’ll leave you dear readers with the image of customers I actually appreciate and look forward to. Yes, despite my downward spiral of cynicism, they actually do exist.

1. Regulars: One of the great things about my job is getting to know the people who come in every day. Because to be honest, there’s nothing like making someone’s order before they request it to make you feel completely badass.

2. Cuddly Elders: There is a long list of customers that have come in and I have claimed as my adoptive grandparents. Ladies who are five feet tall in their wool sweaters on a 90 degree  day is enough to melt anyone’s heart, and nothing is more precious than a couple of 40 years sharing an ice cream sundae.

3. Polite Children: It’s rare, but there apparently are still parents who teach manners to their kids and to them I am forever grateful. As much as I love a 5 year old screaming “Blue Cosmo!” at me and then sprinting away, “May I please have vanilla?” and “Thank you very much” have never gone out of style. For the sake of my sanity, as well as everyone else’s, I sincerely hope that those children are the ones taking care of me when I’m an old ice cream regular myself.

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