Tuesday, February 2, 2010

What Working At Dairy Queen Taught Me

Upon request I am doing my post on Dairy Queen. My first job at the tender age of 16 when I was too young to realize what "dead end job" meant and where I learned that when working for The Man you are likely to get screwed. A lot.

Before I feel I can really go into this post I think it's going to be pertinent for me to demonstrate my mad drawing skills and show you the layout of the store.

Now I apologize if you can't read this. I tried and lord knows that I didn't do so hot in art class (except abstract paint splashes I totally rocked at) and I'll never draw plans for a home. (I tried when doing our addition and Matt just smiled. Clearly it's not where my talents lie.) But it's general and it may help you.

I started in the spring working about 20 hours a week. In the summer I got close to 40 but that's because it was busy and we had a lot of people not show up due to hangovers. I was a cashier and when I started we had to memorize the prices. So you know that everybody got charged whatever I thought sounded reasonable. But you can bet your ass if I was making your ice cream that it not only had candy pieces in it, but you got extra for free. I really excelled at making stuff. I could do the curl on my first day. The soft serve machines were my destiny. I was the only one that could curl the frozen yogurt which was deemed "uncurlable". Bow down, bitches because I? Could curl it.

But here are some memorable things that happened at my almost 3 years at that job:

  • I once had a lady order a cheesburger with no cheese. When I said, "Oh- so you want a hamburger?" I got a horrified look and a reply consisting of, "No- I don't like ham.". Alrighty then. When I wrote that on the slip, JR, the cook during my shift asked me if I lost my fucking mind. No, I just work here.
  • JR's brother changed the bags (which is code for taking the tube out of the empty ice cream bag and putting it into a new one. Much like I would envision a colostomy bag. I feel totally prepared if Matt should ever need one. I won't because I'm a girl and girls are perfect.) But Brad didn't put it all the way. Ice cream EVERYWHERE in the Soft Serve Freezer. That was a fucking mess.
  • One of my first tasks was to fill the Mr. Misty machine. I love Mr. Misty, kiwi strawberry in particular. But not being a bright bitch, I filled the 5 gallon tub with water, the mystery packet and a 5 pound bag of sugar in the sink. So the bucket is in the sink and I realize, "Fuck. Now I have to get it OUT of the sink. With puny, useless arms." Mr. Misty juice everywhere. I think JR helped me clean that, but he wasn't happy. I can't say I blame him.
  • We had a guy come through drive through regularly stark naked. He was super huge so his gigantic belly covered stuff. So for a long time I thought (was hoping) maybe he just had short shorts on. Until one day we delayed his food, made JR take out the garbage and walk by his rapist looking van to check. No pants, no underwear. We were all looking from the DT window. Disturbing.
  • I ocne got stuck in the big freezer for an hour. Nobody noticed my non stop talking had stopped for a fucking hour. Maybe they did and that's why I was in there. But it was shipment day so I chowed on some frozen cookie dough while sitting on a box of frozen patties until the door opened.
  • The nasty sink area was gross. Some of the tiles had come off the wall so they were hot glued on.
  • And if we're being honest- how that place passed health code I'll never know because it was DIRTY. And we were lazy. We never had a real supervisor on shift except if you got stuck on days. But at night? Fucking free for all.
  • We used to throw dilly bars and buster bars out into traffic on Sundays when it was slow. We had to make those all by hand and the deformed ones we messed up got tossed, so why not throw into traffic?? Nothing funnier than seeing a million seagulls swooping and cars slamming on breaks on the busiest road in Superior. At a traffic light no less.
  • One summer someone brought bottle rockets to work. JR set one off outside the backdoor and it went through this whole in the fence and hit the side of a car who was ordering at the sign. We all ran like cockroaches to light and the guy in the car?? BUST IN THROUGH THE BACK DOOR and we were all like, "Bottle rocket? Fucking punks in the apartments" even though it was clear it came from us. Hard to take a screaming half bald man seriously when he's wearing a wife beater with neon yellow short shorts with socks and sandals. JR totally got fired. The bonus? His dad worked for the fire department. So that wasn't so good. But even JR could laugh about it because that guy was psychotic.
  • We used to make our own stuff and steal it after work. I think one day I took a huge cup full of Nerds home. I had the worst stomach ache afterwards. Who the fuck orders a Nerd blizzard anyways?

But one summer our really annoying but never really in charge manager up and sold the place. The new people coming in owned a bunch of DQ's and McDonald's and had all gone to DQ and McDonald's college. Seriously. They were so excited about "products", "customer service", and "team players" that I just thought I would never make it. So we all spent the entire summer tearing out the old stuff and helping install all the new stuff. Me and some girls got to do "womens work" and clean shelving. With chemicals, no gloves. I had chemical burns on my arms and I really thought my skin was sloughing off. Then we had the "Grand Opening". This place was decked out with a "northwoods" and "coke" theme which was so lame. I felt like such a pussy working there. The tipping point was when I refused to call a dish rag a "freshie". I just couldn't do it. Everything in me was against calling something a freshie. Sean (the new boss) would say, "Hey Sara- attack those tables with a freshie!" and I'd roll my eyes. Then he would get all condescending and be like, "Wow- way to fresh it up!" or "Bang 'em out!". He made us measure EVERYTHING. If you made a cone 5.2 oz versus 5 oz he'd be like, "Sara- the customer is paying for 5 oz. Let's try harder." Really? I am pretty sure anyone would be pumped to get a bonus. Douche.

So I quit. I totally quit one week when I saw my schedule was 2 hours that week and I was on freshie duty and I just thought fuck it. I'd rather be without a car that deal with this bullshit. PLUS all the super goody Christian kids started working there and between the Jesus talk and freshies...I mean I would have gone postal. So I just came in, punched in for 5 minutes, took my uniform off and left it on the counter. And didn't punch out. (Bonus- I got paid for my shift too).

But it wasn't all bad. JR and I dated for like three years and were engaged. It obviously didn't work out but he was awesome and still cool as hell. I have joined the ranks of DQ employees and it's like a secret bond. Nobody really knows what it's like until you work there. I also honed not only my bull shit detector but my ability to bull shit my way through most anything. I can lie with a smile on my face. This is something you can only learn fully through retail or fast food. "Is our food fresh? Well yes- we make fresh to order." (As we're running it through a microwave or holding it up next to a heat lamp)

One day I'll write about my stint as a Supervisor at Culver's. ;)


Krysten @ Why Girls Are Weird said...

Oh my gosh. That sounds a lot like what it was like when I worked at Perkins. Stealing gumballs from the gumball machine and drooling blue, trowing super balls around the dining room, dancing to The Jackson 5 with coffee filters on our heads... maybe I ought to write a Perkins entry =-)

Angela said...

I loved this! My boyfriend used to work at Dairy Queen, so I'm going to have to show this post to him and get him to spill some of his DQ secrets!

Ann said...

Hilarious. Reminds me of my Burger King days...

Mr O said...

I think working at Dairy Queen was the worst/best time of my life. I can't relate to many of these stories cuz I dealt with food and made sure I stayed there. I never learned the ice cream and never tried because I didn't want to be called to do both. BUT we had great times such as...

*my friend putting me in a shopping cart and running me into the piles of boxes we had next to the trash

*a co-worker spilling grease ALL OVER THE FLOOR and us spending well over an hour after close to clean it up

*a challenge we had that involved squeezing the lemons and getting pure juice and trying to chug it. I pretty much gagged.

I will have to tell you more stories as I think of them

Sam said...

Is it a universal Dairy Queen theme to be super gross and unsanitary? We have a dairy queen here in town still and its filthy. They replaced the grass out front with astroturf, nobody in central Florida has grass that short and green, so it now look super gross and ghetto. BUT...they have free wifi. Who cares about health department regulations!!

Sara Strand said...

@Sam- yes, almost every DQ is gross and ghetto. I'm 99% sure it's a requirement.

@Mr. O- YES! We used to stack boxes, milk crates, etc and jump into them. How else are you going to pass a slow Sunday? In the winter? We once had a ketchup fight with the squirt bottles. I was fast and flexible so I won because I could hide behind stuff easily.

Organic Meatbag said...

Way to bang this freshie post out, Sarah! It gave me goosebumps! And by the way, the naked guy in the drive thru...did you guys ever call the cops?? Seems like you could have been able to make him wait for his food, all the while, you guys are making a call to Batman...and admit you, you wanted to see his doodle, didn't you? Hahahah

Chicken said...

I went through the Whataburger drive-thru naked once. I paid with one hand while crossing my legs and holding my tits with the other hand. The drive thru girl acted like everything was normal....hmm maybe it was because it was a small town and we teenagers got bored pretty often.

Anonymous said...

That same naked dude used to come through the deli drive thru here in my town. Why does every po-dunkt small town have that one pervert?

Me said...

This post reminds me of my Olive Garden/KFC/IHOP days. (Yeah, I was a serial job quitter :-) The naked guy story was creepy. We had a transvestite guy (if you want to call him that-because he dressed like a dude). Anyway, he was a really big guy, with a beard, manicured nails and a wig. The drive thru window is truly the window to the world, lol.

Julie H said...

I can just imagine the fat naked guy in the drive through! Too funny!!

The closest I ever got to working fast food was a bakery. Not too exciting.

Unknown said...

I just read this a couple years later as a DQ employee.
I'm so grateful for the way the store I work in is run. The owner is literally always there. And he helps us work to. He isn't above cleaning floors and showing us how to do something himself. He's a sweet guy, but he also runs a tight ship.
And he calls it a rag.
In the sanitation bucket.
And says get the rag from the bucket and go wipe tables.

our DQ is like.... spotless tbh unless it's a rush.
Then about 10 minutes after the rush one of us goes to clean.