In sixth grade it was a treat for a group of us to go downstairs at the Corner Drug on a Saturday afternoon and order chocolate sodas. MJ was the waitress and I thought she was divine. I also believed as she wore that apron and carried that order pad proudly that she had a dream job. I admired other older girls that worked at the S&R, The Boat, or The Miner’s Hat Drive-Ins.
Working at a drive-in seemed like a perfect job. Everybody hung out there. If I worked at the Humdinger I could listen to the music of KJRB playing from a GTO radio parked close to the order window. I could also whip up root beer milkshakes, soft ice cream cones, or a 50 cent banana split.
I applied to work at the Humdinger the summer of 1972. It would be my first job. JK handled soft ice cream cones and other waitress tasks with ease. SD was talking about applying for employment there also. I imagined myself taking orders on the green notepad with a pencil behind my ear. I could visualize the milkshake machine purring as I ran it with an air of importance. I would wrap hot, delicious hamburgers hot off the grill in a square of wax paper to hold in the pickles, onions, and sliced tomatoes.The owner called me and said he wanted to “try me out”. He sent me home with the menu asking me to memorize the items and prices and come in the next day. CM called me the morning of my first day of work. He wanted to go out to the lake. Would I like to join him? I knew I was a quick study. I took my employment homework on the short trip to the lake.
I had to be at the Humdinger by 3:00. The sail boating adventure was fun, but led to a bad sunburn and lack of quality time to do my homework. I arrived to work on time, but it was a disaster. Taking orders and remembering prices was hard. I never realized how challenging it was to make milkshakes, wrap burgers, form strawberry dip cones, figure out change, and smile while suffering from a sunburn and lack of menu knowledge. JK was the queen of waitressing. I flunked my trial run. SD would definitely do better. The owner told me he didn’t need me any more. I went home discouraged.
Mom gave me the “ I told you not to go out to the lake, but stay home and learn those prices” lecture. Dad said I was a “bull in a china closet” and reminded me “I couldn’t walk, take orders, and chew gum at the same time”. SD got a job and was able to enjoy the finer things in life as a waitress; listening to “ Lean on Me” from a car radio in the parking lot while taking orders, making soft ice cream cones, giving change, and smiling at the order window with JK. My first job was going to be my dream job, but turned out being my worst job.
The Humdinger still serves burgers, cones, and shakes in Kellogg in the same location.
I was amazed today when I noticed this is blog post #300. Fortunately there are more pictures to take and stories to tell. Thanks to all my blog readers for the comments and continued support.
You can enjoy other Sunday Scribblings about jobs here.