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Workin' at the DQ

I've been working at Dairy Queen for the past year, and I adore it.

Only DQ means distinguishing between five different types of chocolate sauce (and quickly apprehending that chocolate cone coating is without a shard of uncertainty superior to all others), tasting every fathomable combination of sundae and Blizzard toppings and concocting strange-sounding favorites that make other DQ locations' employees stare dizzily when you order, getting locked in the walk-in fridge, writing on coworkers with gel frosting and arriving home with two new freckles only to realize they wash off because they're made of hot fudge.

Sure, we've got behind-the-counter drama, but only because most of us have been friends for years, and that's probably to be expected. We work hard, we have ridiculous amount of fun, and we carry degrees in Soft Serve Connoisseur that few can hope to achieve in a merely average existence (average here meaning a lack of Dairy Queen employment).

However. There are days when we've already spent the morning at another job, or from-home drama follows us amongst the coffee concentrate and misty mix as we stir together your MooLattes and Arctic Rushes, or we simply can't bear to make the 27th Brownie Batter Blizzard of the day without even one person getting tongue-tied while attempting to order it, or a shift seems to last longer than Minnesota takes to work its way into summer weather. Those are the days when smiling at customers seems an effort-laden obligation, special orders are cause for hyperventilation, heads are smacked by flying cone racks, twelve cups tumble to the floor when you try to grab one, ice cream machines explode their contents nine feet in every direction, and cash registers are rendered incapable of cooperative relations.

It's during these shifts when we, fast food workers the world over, most appreciate the overachieving customer -- the one who makes us smile sincerely when we really really don't feel like it, the one who sees us as people who do more than hang out at DQ and spin out sundaes with our mad ice cream-savvy skill, the one who we never mind serving, assisting, or refilling a soda multiple times for.

This is an ode to the pleasant customer, found in the least likely moments and most needed moments.

Here's to the customer who asks how you are and listens to the answer.

Here's to the customer who orders your favorite-to-make menu item (Peanut Buster Parfaits are more fun that video games, television, or the calc test on derivatives).

Here's to the customer who gives exact change.

Here's to the customer who doesn't give exact change because he or she realizes it's going to take longer to rifle for it than for the cashier to make it.

Here's to the customer who accepts your apologies when the order takes too long or the burger wasn't fully cooked -- working at DQ does not, contrary to seeming popular belief, make a person infallible.

Here's to the customer who leaves a dollar tip in the penny cup -- none of us are going to claim it for ourselves, but it's nice to see it sitting there.

Here's to the customer who pays for the person next in line.

Here's to the customer who chips in the dollar deficit when the kid in front is short the amount.

Here's to the customer who comments (kindly!) on our fudge-splattered shirts or the ice cream speckles in our hair.

Here's to the customer who laughs at behind-the-counter Blizzard-making banter.

Here's to the customer who doesn't get mad that we don't carry FlameThrower burgers or Iron Grilled sandwiches.

Here's to the customer who doesn't believe that they're always right -- customers are people, too.

Here's to the customer who asks for our recommendations, and doesn't shy away from taking them.

Here's to the customer who understands that we can't change the rules for them.

Here's to the customer who tells us when something gets spilled.

Here's to the customer who notices we're ready to close and leaves to let us do so -- we don't enjoy asking you to leave, cross my heart.

Here's to the customer who makes conversation, gives compliments, tells jokes, smiles, says hello and goodbye and please and thank you, and doesn't leave garbage all over the place afterwards.

To you we raise our Big Macs, our Snackers, our Whoppers and Waffle Bowls, our Baconators, our ButterBurgers, our Sammies and our Five Dollar Footlongs.

Jeez, I'm hungry... anybody want to go grab some ice cream?