Soft Serve, Hard Realization

Emmanuelle, who went by “Elle” when she was feeling lazy (so…always), found it amusing, really, that so many service jobs in “local towns” preferred to use high school students as their go-to employees. As though these are the “hires” that prove to be the most desirable when, in fact, part of the reason “adults” so often complain about customer service in places like the one Emmanuelle was about to step into was because, by and large, the high school set wasn’t very bright. Sure, it was easy to attribute their “head in the clouds” nature to the notion that they weren’t yet “fully formed” beings or that the American education system was to be held accountable for their overall stupidity and general lack of common sense. But the truth was, high school students acted like daft shitheads because they knew that they could. They knew they would still get hired by places like Yogurt Heaven—the site where Elle was currently standing—because that’s “the look” employers wanted to espouse at their businesses. God (or whoever) forbid that anybody should ever allow “olds” to represent an establishment, lest they go against the societal indoctrination that Youth is King. 

Or, in this particular scenario, Queen. For the lone employee at Yogurt Heaven was a girl named Zara, who at sixteen, knew she had the world wrapped around her finger no matter what she did. Which is perhaps why the expression on her face was so blasé as she vaguely remembered to say, “Hi, welcome to Yogurt Paradise” as Elle neared the counter. Elle wanted to correct her and say, “It’s Yogurt Heaven,” but she didn’t. Instead, she reluctantly ambled deeper into the empty establishment; well, empty save for a mother and her six-year-old daughter who had come back inside to use the bathroom—make the most out of the probably twelve dollars the mother had shelled out for two cones. It was because of this mother’s decision that, in just a few moments, Zara would be touching Elle’s cone with a dirty hand. The irony being that the whole reason Zara couldn’t grab her own cone was because of COVID precautions. 

She suddenly wanted to get this whole experience over with, having confirmed her long-held theory that the reason she could never get hired anywhere at a chain like this was because all the jobs were bequeathed solely to youths. That it would have been “inappropriate” to give the role to anyone beyond high school. Or, at best, a college student who needed a “stint” over the summer break. Beyond that, no one else was going to be deemed as an “acceptable” fro-yo server. And definitely not Elle, who had entered her early thirties almost a decade ago and was still doing her best to throw any appraising eyes off the scent (or rather, sight) of that. Which is part of the reason she was still Team Wear A Mask regardless of the lifted mandates that were constantly shifting anyway as new variants arose. As far as she was concerned, the mask was her insurance against any noticeable wrinkles ever being spotted. Not that Zara would have taken the time to really look at her or anyone else that wasn’t a proverbial “hot bitch” in her age bracket. Indeed, she was barely able to center her vague focus on Elle long enough to ask disinterestedly, “What can I get you today?” 

Elle hemmed and hawed for a brief second, but pushed forward, feeling the pressure to choose something—mainly out of the fear that Zara might get too bored with waiting and decide to pull out her phone. If Zara dipped into the matrix for an indeterminate period before Elle could make her request, it was game over. So she blurted out that she wanted vanilla and coffee-flavored soft serve on a small cone. It was a hot day, and she desperately desired the light, airy texture of this particular breed of ice cream to cool her down. Yet her rage bubbling to the surface only seemed to have the opposite effect as she watched Zara and the Mother and Child duo interface after the latter had returned to demand the bathroom key. The very key that Zara put her fingers all over as she passed it to Mother and then stuck the same hand out to grab Elle’s cone and approach the soft serve station. 

Zara, in all her semi-high school educated wisdom, couldn’t even manage to figure out that the combination of these two flavors requested should be rendered in a swirl fashion. Instead, she slowly pulled the handle down in fits and starts to release the vanilla soft serve in a heaping tower that would have been sufficient on its own, and was already practically tipping over off the cone. Elle was almost tempted to remind her that she had also called for the additional flavor, but just as she was about to, Zara moved to over to the coffee handle, and proceeded to churn that out too. In just as towering a fashion—one that made Elle question if Zara might even have supernatural powers so as to be able to make both flavors fit in such mountainous piles on a single small cone. 

Matters were made more complex, in terms of an approach to eating the damn thing, when Elle realized that she couldn’t quickly start to lick the sides (upon Zara thrusting the cone at her) to avoid meltage because she was wearing her mask and didn’t have the free hands required to deal with holding the ice cream, taking her face covering off, getting out her money to pay… and all that fucking stress. She had to get out of this Yogurt Hell and onto the sidewalk where Zara’s shoddy dispensing skills would force her to shotgun the soft serve like some kind of uncouth animal (which, one supposes, all humans are at their core).  

As Elle slapped down the inaccurate change amount that Zara gave back to her into the tip jar (why not?) and started to practically run out of the joint, she stopped in her tracks and thought, “No. You know fucking what? I will not be made to feel lesser than by this self-superior cunt.” And with that, she whipped around—the soft serve melting already to the point where it was dripping down her arm—to look Zara right in her dead eyes and inquire ever-so-sweetly, “Excuse me? Do you have a job application?” 

Zara tried to look as unaffected as she had during the entire exchange that just occurred between them, but couldn’t help reacting with an eyebrow raise to the “shocking” query. Regaining her composure long enough to stare Elle up and down, she finally replied, “We’re not hiring at the moment.” Elle could feel the rejection walloping her like an invisible force field as she nodded and uttered something pathetic like, “Okay, thanks anyway.”

Naturally, after Elle had sucked down her entire soft serve in about a minute and was recovering from brain freeze in the safety of her car, she glanced up at the Yogurt Heaven sign to see that there was a banner that read, in huge lettering, “Now Hiring” draped over it. “What a little fucking ageist bitch,” Elle said to herself as she proceeded to back out of the parking lot and pass a slew of other retail stores in the shopping center also claiming they were hiring. The caveat being: only high school incompétents.

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