Wednesday, June 20, 2012

I Scream! You Scream! We All Scream...

Back in college, I sold ice cream at festivals - mostly big music fests on holiday weekends in Seattle. I started out at the two-person carts with my buddy Jennifer, hawking Dove bars to the crowds walking by and being traumatized by "Misty and the Pinboys", which was stationed directly opposite our cart. I soon moved into one of the two "flagship" stands, where we scooped ice cream cones all day long and choreographed dances to the music played on the stages nearby.

Even after college, I kept working for the company, partly because the money was good (four days in a row of 16-hour shifts paid a LOT) and partly because it was so much fun. Yes, by the end of the weekend my feet were killing me, my scooping arm was ready to fall off, and I really didn't want to go back to the day job the next morning. But by the time the next festival rolled around, I was ready to jump right in.

There's an underground economy at festivals like these, where the vendors and the street performers help each other out and the food booth workers never pay for a meal. It was great working for an ice cream stand, because we pretty much had our pick of the food vendors - a Dove bar went a long way toward "purchasing" a chicken and rice dish from Senor Frog or a grilled panini from Three Sisters. And whenever we ran out of small bills I'd run over to the steps of the Arena and wait for Leif to finish his juggling act. He'd hand me the bucket of cash collected from his audience donations, and together we'd count out ones and fives in exchange for all the twenties people brought straight from the ATM to our stand.

The first Labor Day weekend my now-husband and I started dating, he hung out at Bumbershoot while I worked, and by the following Memorial Day, we were engaged and he was scooping ice cream alongside me. Eventually, I was put in charge of finances and scheduling, and spent the month or so prior to each event finding workers, staffing each location, and organizing schedules.

My last festival was the spring I was pregnant with our first child. The company was less interested in keeping up a presence at the events, and I didn't want to give up major holiday weekends anymore.

I do miss it from time to time. Especially when I see Dove bars in the freezer aisle. Of all my "starter" jobs, it will probably always be my favorite.

What job holds the most memories for you?


Erin Nicholas said...

Ah, that's easy. I spent four summers--both high school and college-- and a few Christmas breaks waitressing at a pizza place where the *cutest* boys worked! One in particular still has a place in my heart... (and no, not the now-husband... shhhh! *G*)

Meg Benjamin said...

You're both so lucky! My summer jobs were all pretty bad, except maybe for the camp counselor one. But then again, it was unpaid.

Ann Grant said...
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Kelly Jamieson said...

I had great summer jobs - for years I worked at a school supply store! I got a huge discount on school and office supplies (which I LOVE) and sporting goods. Now my son is working at Staples and I'm so excited!

Kinsey Holley said...

Straight out of college (age 24) with an English degree, I...went to work waiting tables, and took catering gigs on the side. Knew I didn't want to do it forever, but loved it for the 3 or 4 years I did it (till I broke down and went to work as a legal secretary, which eventually led to being a law librarian.)

The clubber/waiter lifestyle is very unhealthy and it suited me perfectly. Late nights, rise at noon, pick up shifts when you need extra money, lots of time spent in bars with friends after shifts. I met my future sister in law while waiting tables - years before I met the Hub - and I met my ex boyfriend, who's now married to my BFF, and I'm still friends with other folks I worked with/waited on 20 years ago.

Waiting tables is great job training for just about anything else in life.