When I was in high school, I worked at Haagen Daaz. A pretty great job, seeing friends, and getting to eat ice cream in between clean ups, not a bad gig at all. And despite my Olive Oil physique, and arm strength not exceeding five pounds per arm, scooping ice cream from giant barrels was a true work out but worth it. A) Ice cream gets super hard when frozen. B) Keep the metal ice cream scooper in the holder with hot water as long as possible before trying to scoop it out.
The beauty to ice cream is that it’s like humor. Everyone develops a taste for it. Everyone seems to know the flavor that they like and the size of the scoop to satisfy one’s palette. But what does that mean?
It was a hot afternoon during summer months in New Jersey where I was working at Haagen Daaz on Chamber Street. Thomas Sweet was the number one ice cream store in town, but I managed to get this gig, and it was fun working for the next place in demand. The line was growing to be pretty long, and I would take my string bean, straight arms and lean in with my whole body to scoop, praying it was vanilla or chocolate. Strawberries and butter nut were a real doozy. Strawberry clumps = hazardous to the weak.
There was only two of us working that day, and while Ivan was scooping, smiling and selling, I was trying to keep it together to get to the flavors without nuts, fruits, or caremel to keep the line from getting too long to scoop, pass, and go.
“Hi there, I’d like to get a quart of coffee please.” He said. A gentleman, likely 40-50’s, ready to get his fix to bring home to his family.
“Uh.. a quart?” I asked while catching my breath from the kid size butter pecan scoop I just handed a 9 year old.
“Yes, a quart.. quart of coffee, thank you.” he said smiling.
“Ohhhhkkkaaaayyyy…” I responded with a tilt of the head and furrowed brow. I reached over to the quart containers, grabbed one, went over to the coffee machine- just freshly brewed (yes brewed).. and POURED hot coffee into the cardboard Haagen Daaz quart container.
Struggling while trying to put the lid on it, as it was wobbly and piping hot, I took both hands grasping it as best as I could with the tips of my fingers so I wouldn’t burn them more than a slight singe saying, “Here you go! One quart of coffee. Careful… hot hot hot hot hot!”
Everyone stood in line staring at me, waiting for the whammy to come out, or the hidden camera host to reveal a blooper episode, or Ashton Kutcher to come out and say I just got punked. But no Ashton, no blooper, no gong from the gong show. The gentleman took the coffee, smiled and gently said, “Wonderful, that’s great. Now, may I also have a quart of coffee ice cream?”
In that moment, my face turned a deeper shade of red than the ruby red raspberry sorbet, and this 115 pound high school employee of Haagen Daaz had just created a new flavor: “Horrifingly Fresh”.
Rather than being mean by what he meant, he chose to use humor and kindness to deliver his message. And I learned that what one means is not always how it’s perceived, and has been a basis to much of my comedy material for over twenty years.
4 Tips to Get From Mistakes to Glory
1. Take a moment where you’ve made a mistake, acknowledge it, and shift your perspective. How did it turn out to be something positive? (I mean, at the time I was so embarrassed by my coffee mistake, but here I am some 20 years later writing about it to all of you!)
2. Take pride in making a mistake to find new methods for resolve. By making a mistake, it allows an opportunity to confront it, see how you can fix it, and put your trouble shooting shoes on.
3. See mistakes as opportunities. Even if there is a mistake made during work, unless it is made, you never know how you may learn something new from it. We are human, we and will make mistakes, so embrace them rather than cringe and hide from making them!
4. Mistakes are revelations. Each time one is made, is a recipe for learning, gaining perspective, and an opportunity for greater growth.
About the Author: Susanna SPIES is one of Your Monthly Mentors, a seasoned educator and Founder and President of Comedy Playground, LLC, showcasing at The Hollywood Improv located in California. With a performance background, Spies has worked within mediums of television and film, and has performed stand up comedy on stages throughout the nation. Known for her many “faces”, in 2013 she debuted over 30 characters in her one-woman show “The Dryer” and was featured on Nuvo TV’s Stand & Deliver, E-One Entertainment’s Uncontrolled Comedy, and the Youtube sensation “Carol” of “Carol & Claire in The Angela Hoover web series, as well as dozens of national commercials, and Independent Feature Films. Read More…