Good Evening Friends,
Tonight I’m sitting here wincing at the screen with a growing migraine, but I wanted to take a few moments to tell you about this fun Little activity I did tonight while it’s fresh on my mind. Given that it is 12 days until Christmas, I wanted to do something special for my daughter and I each day counting down until Christmas morning. So we decided that instead of buying overpriced Advent calendars, we would bake our way until the “big day”.
Yes, today kicks things off with 12 days until Christmas, and today we baked: Ice Cream Clowns!
My daughter requested this treat, as she saw these stocked in the Baskin Robbins’ window one day. “Mama, can we pleeeease buy one?” she asked me. On that given day I told her no. But I promised her that we would make one together at home. However, seeing those ice cream clowns reminded me of a story about my own humble beginnings. I’ll share that story with you now….
My very first job was at a Baskin Robbins/ Dunkin Donuts store. One half was donuts and coffee, while the other side was 31 flavors of delicious ice cream. To work there you needed to be trained on both sides. As a teenager fresh into the minimum wage/fast food industry, I was eager to learn something new. Little did I know how that job would make me grow up and learn responsibility. When I was hired I was 18 years old living at home. The day after my high school graduation my parents and I had a falling out and I was told to leave. My things were tossed into garbage bags and I left home. I was on the streets, but I had that minimum wage job to keep me barely afloat.
A year and a half into that job and I had worked my way up to shift manager. When I first began working I assumed all of my co-workers would be teenagers like myself. How wrong I was! I met a hard-working senior citizen who needed some extra money to care for her ailing husband. I met wonderful Brazilian immigrants who were trying to create a new life in this country. I met teenagers (like myself) who were scraping pennies together to rent out bedrooms or who lived out of their car. We were an eclectic group of people all shoved together under one fast food roof.
We bonded over low wages and long hours. We joked about rude customers and helped each other through the literal aches and pains of standing on our feet for 10 hours a day. When one of us got sick, the rest picked up their shifts working overtime. Somehow, that job became so much more than “just a job”. It was a weird, temporary circle of peers that felt like family when I had none.
Eventually I left that job almost 2 years from the day I began. I moved on to a giant retail clothing store. I thought it would be better, but the retail giant felt impersonal… cold… and ruthless. I wouldn’t be there long though because 6 months into the job and I gave birth to my first child. At the time, life was difficult. My then-husband and I were on government assistance. Money was tight and food was scarce. There were times when our last dollars went to baby formula while he and I went to bed with growling stomachs.
One day I marched back into that Dunkin Donuts/Baskin Robbins. I was starving and hadn’t eaten a thing all day. I had just enough change from digging around in the car to purchase one donut for 69 cents. I stood in line with my daughter’s carrier in my hand. The line moved slow in the store. I shifted my weight back and forth, mentally wondering if I had enough change for tax or if the donut would cost too much and I would be embarrassed in front of the very people I used to work with. I glanced over at the freezers brightly lit with cakes, ice cream quarts…. and clown ice cream cones.
I could never afford those. That was a pipe dream.
Finally it was my turn at the register. I decided to order 4 donut holes. Just four. It was 56 cents with tax. I dug in my pocket and pulled out the mixture of change prepared to count it out, when all of a sudden my old boss stepped out of the back and smiled seeing me. He came around the counter and gave me a hug. He was a wonderful Indian man with an infectious smile. His fingers brushed over my daughters cheek, and he glanced at what I was purchasing. Then looked down and saw my hand full of pennies and dimes.
“Get her a dozen donuts” he said to the girl working the register, “on the house”. I wanted to cry with relief.
“If you ever need anything” he said warmly, “just come on by”. Sometimes all it takes is a small act of kindness to go a very long way. So, tonight I made ice cream clown cones with my daughter. They were sweet, delicious, and made us smile. I live thousands and thousands of miles away from that old Dunkin Donuts store. But wherever my old boss is… I hope he has a magical holiday season. May we all find reasons to spread more love and good in this world.
Have a wonderful night everyone!