Monday, March 4, 2013
It's a treat to work at Dairy Queen
Submitted by Erin Doonan, Abbotsford
Erin Doonan enjoys the outdoors with her dogs, miles away from the nearest Dairy Queen.
hen I was a sophomore in college, I finally reached the level of poverty that mandated getting a job. Considering my only free time consisted of a couple of nights during the week and weekends, my options were pretty much limited to fast food.
As much as I hated to think of myself wasting my precious free time wearing a goofy hat and caked in grease, I decided that this could be the opportune time to achieve my goal in life: unrestricted access to the blizzard ingredients at Dairy Queen.
I immediately pictured myself behind the counter, giggling with my co-workers as we pranced around in our matching aprons and shoved as much ice cream as humanly possible into our faces. I applied and had my interview that very afternoon. It went something like this:
"What experience do you have that would make you an excellent candidate for this job?"
I lay awake at night thinking up new concoctions for your menu. "I know how to use a cash register."
"Why do you want to work here?"
The blizzard ingredients. "I sure could use the extra money right now. Plus, I like to keep busy and diversify my activities."
"What do you think you will take away from the job if you get it?"
The blizzard ingredients. "Responsibility, dedication to a corporation and a new set of friends."
"Do you own a pair of black pants?"
I was hired.
As usual, disappointment followed. From the very beginning I did not fit in. Everyone else working there was Hmong (hailing from Laos) and from what I could gather, they were all related. At 19 I was the oldest and the only one without any kids. This was evidentially an incomprehensionable situation to be in.
Also, I am 5'11" and somewhat of a heifer. The largest of them was a light sixty five pounds and may have stretched to 4'5" if pulled by semis in opposite directions. Not only did they not have an interest in food in general, but they didn't even like ice cream. They spoke English, but not around me. Every single time I showed up for work they would immediately stop what they were doing and huddle in a corner, berating me (for all I knew) in their native tongue. None of them were ever directly mean to me, but no one was ever nice either. My plans for group gorging were soon dashed, but I wasn't above feasting alone.
There was never a moment where I did not feel like a freak there. I hate standing close to people who are significantly shorter than me because it makes me feel even more huge than usual. These literal elves were everywhere and there was nowhere to go to escape them in the cage we had to work in. Always speed talking in their foreign language and cackling, never eating, always watching me.
Months passed and I began to learn the ins and outs of closing procedures, the most intricate skill I cared to possess. Sure, I toiled away deciphering drive thru orders and making Dilly Bars, but my goal was to obtain the supreme trust bestowed upon the closer.
One night it happened: the pinnacle of my life, which to this day I still know will never be topped. Nothing, not my wedding day, not the birth of my first child, not winning the lottery could ever bring me as much joy as being left alone, unsupervised in a fully stocked Dairy Queen. Usually two people were scheduled each night but tonight was different. I was closing alone! Whether the other person had to attend Lamaze, go to the STD clinic, it didn't matter — I was alone.
I spent the first five minutes just looking around in disbelief. It was simply too good to be true -- there had to be a catch. Where were the hidden cameras? I checked the upstairs office, the freezer and the parking lot for spies but saw nothing. The realization that at that very moment I was experiencing my goal in life sunk in. I was high on glee. My heart pounded faster and faster and my hands shook so hard that I could hardly hang on to the empty cup I had grabbed.
"What are you doing?" I thought to myself. I threw the cup on the floor and found a pail. I filled it with caramel. With every push of the pump I was taking mental notes of what was going on. This was not going to turn into one of those events that people experience and then years later look back and say, "I can't believe I did that!" I was going to remember every detail. This was what I was going to think about when I have trouble falling asleep, on long car rides, sitting in the dentist's chair.
Obtaining the caramel was a lengthy process. Once my pail was over-brimming, I carefully carried it over to the counter where everything is prepared. On top of the counter in glass jars were the blizzard ingredients, bits and pieces of Snickers, Kit Kat, M&Ms, Oreos, Butterfinger, all the soldiers in this delicate war of pigs. Child's play. The area under the counter is a long refrigerator.
Therein lies a treasure trove of ten pound sacks of the new, fresh ingredients. Idiotically I started scooping out Snickers pieces with a spoon. They were frozen into one massive chunk which I grabbed and ever so gracefully dropped into my pail. My eagle eyes scanned the perimeter for witnesses and then returned to the cooler, scanning for anything and everything. Pecans! I couldn't leave out the most expensive add-on!
With the reflexes of a cobra, I struck twice and nabbed a good pound or two of the prized nuts.
This was worth every second of the months I'd spent imprisoned in this rotten shack infested with foreign dwarves.
Suddenly I heard a clanking sound and immediately feared someone was coming in the back door. I was terrified of getting caught yet I could not tear myself away -- a hog caught in the headlights. By the grace of God, it turned out to be the fan in the cooler and I proceeded.
Next came the brownie chunks. Chunk after tremendous chunk dropped into my magnificent trough. I couldn't stop myself from bursting out in the maniacal laughter of someone gone mad. I think at one point I was even rubbing my hands together in anticipation.
Once the entire surface of the mixture was covered with brownie, I searched for something to mix it with. A paint stirrer would have been ideal, but the best I could come up with was the long-handled spoon used to dish out the chocolate cone dip. I threw on a few scoops of the waxy wonder and then maneuvered the spoon around as best I could in the quagmire-like substance.
Zero hour had arrived. I sat on the floor with my back against the counter cowering yet simultaneously relishing in the climax of my entire being. I took a spoon and I ate. I ate and I ate. I ate some more. I didn't even bother with any ice cream. Caramel ran out of both sides of my mouth because I couldn't stop smiling and I didn't care. I'm going to get diabetes and heart disease and I'm going to die and I'm going to hell and this is why, and it was worth it.
Once I couldn't swallow any more caramel without puking, I moved on to everything else. Down the row of glass jars I went, depositing fistful after fistful of everything in sight into my mouth. I wanted to hold my mouth open under the hot fudge dispenser but I dubbed that unsanitary.
I don't know how I got home that night. I assume I cleaned up after myself because nothing was ever said about it. I have no memory of the next three days. When I recovered I went back and told the manager I was quitting.
When asked why, I simply stated that I was pregnant, dropping out of school and moving back home. This was the most acceptable scenario for her. As I laid my visor down and turned to leave, I mentally shook hands with the Dairy Queen for a job well done. Together we had done everything I had always wanted to do and for that I will always be grateful.
Shortly after I quit, that Dairy Queen burned down. It was later determined that someone had left a fryer on overnight and somehow it ignited and spread. It broke my heart deep down inside that the site of my most glorious moment no longer existed. Each day I remind myself that the memory will live on forever in my heart.
A few months later a new Dairy Queen opened up on the other side of town. It's run by white kids and it's just not the same.
For more information about Erin, visit her website: www.erindoonan.com
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