One of the best parts of working in an ice cream shop is that whenever you have a tough day you can always leave with an ice cream cone, and I’ve found that it’s a lot more difficult to be upset when you’ve got an ice cream cone in your hand. I recently had my first challenging day at my new job and by the time my shift ended I found that all I really wanted was ice cream. It’ll take me awhile to break this conditioning.
This lack of sweetness after a tough day was the first moment I really missed my old job, specifically my coworkers and the rainbow sprinkles. The years I spent working at Mora were some of the most challenging and surprisingly rewarding years of my life. My experiences there strengthened my belief that everyone should be in the position of “serving” someone else, at least once in their life. You encounter some of the greatest and most awful people you can imagine in customer service, and it forces you to grow in so many ways. I learned early on that you can tell a lot about someone by the way they treat a person who is “in service” to them.
More often than not, I found people making assumptions about me based on how I was earning my living. For example, one day I overheard a man tell his daughter “This is why you go to college, so you don’t have to work a job like this for the rest of your life.” It honestly took every bit of my will to not stop where I was and mention that I had earned not one, but two bachelors degrees in four years, the girl working the register was earning money to pay for medical school, many of us were back for the summer preparing to pay off future student loans, and not a single person there planned on “doing this for the rest of their life.”
And then I would have had to ask why he thought this was such a degrading line of work, also leading me to defend the choice not to attend or the inability to pursue higher education. I probably would have ended up on YouTube heckling this customer that there was absolutely no shame in working for a great company where we made good wages, had a lot of fun, and got to interact with unique and wonderful people both behind and across the counter
That’s the challenging thing about customer service: you have to ignore those ignorant comments, bite your tongue, and laugh along when people make jokes about what you’re doing, or else you’ll get poor reviews for “talking back” or being “rude” for defending your life to some stranger, which you really shouldn’t have to do in the first place.
All that being said, you can imagine there are a lot of tough days, which brings me to the redeeming factor of working in customer service: your coworkers.
Because of the challenges and overwhelming nature of the jobs being performed, you get really close with your crew really fast. I’m not sure I’ve worked a job where I’ve felt a greater sense of comraderie with my coworkers. Even if you’re not great friends outside of work, the minute they walk in the door it’s like your best friend has arrived. You’ve got to depend on each other for so much, because if you can’t create a smooth flow of conversation and means of operations, things fall apart.
Besides the necessity for smooth function of the store, I think another reason people working in customer service become so close is that they spend so much of their day dealing with difficult customers.
Because nothing brings people together more than shared misery.
If you’re rude to your server, I guarantee the entire store knows about you, and not in a good way. Servers need backroom rants to get frustration out of their systems so they can go back out onto the floor and smile politely to the people who call them idiots to their face. It’s easier to apologize for a mistake that isn’t your own when you can turn around the back corner and call bullshit to someone who empathizes.
I wouldn’t have lasted as long as I did without my coworkers. It didn’t matter that we went to different schools, that our interests outside work were different, that we were years apart in age, or that our styles of interacting with people were different. We had each other’s backs, because we were all in the same boat when we walked through those doors and we needed each other if we were going to keep that boat afloat.
One of my biggest takeaways from working customer service is the importance of leaving your bad days behind with an ice cream cone. Some days it was an actual ice cream cone and other days my ice cream cone was laughing with coworkers while jamming to the “after hours playlist.” Other days it was driving with all the windows down in the sunshine, or knowing that I’d go home to puppy snuggles. After leaving a challenging workday, you need to be able to find the little happinesses that wipe away any negativity you’re still feeling. Working at an ice cream shop definitely made leaving with a bit of this happiness easier. I’m not sure what my new ice cream cone will be in this new position I’ve taken, but I’m sure it’ll come with time… and hopefully a few less calories!