Amy Poehler wrote a sweet, slow burn of an essay in the most recent issue of The New Yorker all about a job she had as a teenager slinging ice cream. She writes:
I got [a job], scooping ice cream at Chadwick’s, a local parlor that specialized in sundaes and giant steak fries. Summer jobs are often romantic; the time frame creates a perfect parenthesis. Chadwick’s was not. Hard and physical, the job consisted of stacking and wiping and scooping and lifting. At the end of my shift, every removable piece of the restaurant would be carted off and washed. Vinyl booths were searched and scrubbed. This routine seemed Sisyphean at first, but I soon learned the satisfaction of working at a place that truly closed. I took great joy in watching people stroll in after hours, thinking they could grab a late-night sundae. I would point to the dimmed lights and stacked chairs as proof that we were shut. It was deliciously obvious and final.
The essay goes on to describe Poehler’s other favorite aspects of the job which included commanding a room in order to sing Happy Birthday to customers and how this first brush with performing, silly as it may be, awoke something in her.
…when I stood in the dining room and demanded attention I was reminded of things I already secretly knew about myself. I wasn’t shy, I liked to be looked at, and making people laugh released a certain kind of hot lava into my body that made me feel like a queen.Sure Poehler’s piece is short and contains no shocking revelations or piercing insights. In fact, it reads like one of the most sweetly written college admissions essays you’ll ever find. But what it does perfectly is recall that summery, first job feeling. When everything was simpler and the world was as large and as hopeful as you wanted to make it. I suggest you read the whole thing and the next time you go get an ice cream cone, pay attention to who’s doing the scooping and think about what the world looks like from their side of the glass.