The summer of 2010 changed my life forever. Fresh from dropping out of college, my only job prospects were driving an ice cream truck or getting hit by one. Luckily for me, Mister Softee — yes, Mister Softee, the very founder of the Mister Softee frozen treat empire with the fiendish smile and freakish soft serve skull — took me under his arm, after I rolled over the hood of his truck, and taught me everything I know about business.
The customer is always right
Even if they’re a six-year-old calling you a “stupid idiot.” Especially so, actually. Mister Softee was keen to point out that mean kids often have the most money to spend thanks to their parents trying to buy their love. I also think he enjoyed seeing me get upset. Until I cried on the product. I had an entire box of cones taken out of my paycheck after my tears soaked through the cardboard and made them all soggy.
Sprinkles are for closers
If you can’t sell sundaes after blasting the jingle outside of a public pool or hungover person’s apartment for three hours, you don’t deserve to taste waxy shards while eating your shift meal. I’ll never forget the time Mister Softee slapped a besprinkled cone out of my hand after a bad day at the office. He made me wait until the bees came until I was allowed to clean it up. By that point, I knew that the friendly eyes painted on the side of his trucks was as fictional as the idea of a living, breathing ice cream cone with his own business selling ice cream cones would appear to most.
There’s absolutely no room for excuses
If you make a mistake, admit that you’re wrong, take your punishment, learn from it, and move on. If you don’t like having your head dunked in the milkshake machine, maybe you shouldn’t have licked your boss’ cold, creamy cranium. Even if it looks like, or even is, a sweet, refreshing treat that’s perfect for beating the heat. Not only was it unprofessional for me to do that, it was stupid too. Let’s just say Mister Softee is a guy who knows a guy — and that guy is not made of ice cream but human stuff and he owns brass knuckles.
Don’t be afraid to take risks
You might think mourners wouldn’t take kindly to the persistent purr of a diesel engine idling and you’d be right more often than not, but it’s impossible to know for sure until you try peddling cherry-dipped cones while they lower their loved one’s casket into the ground. Plus, what are they going to do? Kill you? The fires of Hell would’ve felt like the inside of a milkshake machine, but in a good way, compared to the truck while Mister Softee was busy working on his “side project” as I tried to sling soda floats.
Location, location, location
No, you don’t have any control over when your boss forces you to drive to the middle of the desert so they can really focus on the “side project," but if you want to make money, you’ve got to go where the people are. When you can, of course. Sometimes, if you go to a busy enough place you’ll run out of ice cream and start selling the “rock candy” you found in the back of the truck under a pile of bowties and blue blazers and the cops will show up to arrest your a-hole boss — in my case, Mister Softee—for their involvement with an international drug cartel.
Don’t burn bridges
Just because your boss got in too deep with some bad people and had no choice but to cook crystal meth to maintain their lavish lifestyle in this current health-conscious climate, doesn’t mean you have to tell them off or testify against them in court if they’re already throwing the book at them. A glowing reference is a glowing reference. Also, you might know where your boss hid the rest of their “rock candy” like I did and that a guy like Mister Softee wouldn’t last a day behind bars. You don’t have to own all four seasons of Prison Break on DVD to know there’s not a lot of delicious desserts to eat inside those walls. If your situation is anything like mine, you’d better get that letter of recommendation before they get locked up.
Time is money
Don’t waste time and, therefore, money by waiting around for people to buy the mountains of meth you have stockpiled. Unload all of that ice and treat yourself to an Alaskan cruise or something. It’s nice and cold up there and you’ll probably want to go somewhere you can lay low for a while. It’ll be tough leaving your life behind, all to cash in on a literal ice cream man’s failed attempt at making it in the narcotics industry, but try to stay in good humor.