This I Believe

Laura - Pearl River, New York
Entered on April 18, 2006
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: tolerance

The intricate structure of an ice cream sundae consists of a variety of toppings and flavors that appeal to, or disgust, one’s senses. I believe that life resembles the ice cream sundae. Various flavors and toppings correlate with the numerous types of people one encounters in life.

Since the summer of 2005, my days and nights have been devoted to the art of the ice cream sundae. I work at an ice cream stand on a street corner bordering two small towns, rivals of another. After a few weeks of working, I had grown in knowledge of the “regulars’” taste buds. If a person orders a hot fudge sundae several afternoons in a row, this person will not be ordering a low fat milkshake the next. However, the ice cream business, like life, throws curveballs in your direction.

On a steamy July afternoon, one of my favorite customers approached the stand. She came from Nanuet, my town’s rival, which did stir some animosity within me. However, her thoughtful nature usually quelled this feeling. Each day she asked for the same sundae, heavy hot fudge over vanilla ice cream with whipped cream and rainbow sprinkles. The moment I saw her face in the window, I began to stir the hot fudge with the ladle that had grown warm from the overwhelming heat both outside the stand and inside the machine. The customer appeared more frantic and rushed than her usual nonchalant self. Her eyes, lowered and glaring, exuded fear. After my five second observation of the customer which felt more like five minutes, she finally requested, “One extremely thin vanilla milkshake, please.” I did a double take and then finally recognized she was serious. She replied to my surprise: “I need the shake to be extra thin for my husband. He has cancer and is in the hospital. The doctor told him to drink something through a straw that had that more sustenance than the average drink.” Flabbergasted by the woman’s statement, I quickly fired up the blender and began to scoop vanilla ice cream.

That was the last time that my favorite customer came to the ice cream stand. Life’s unpredictable nature had thrown me, and her, for a loop. I, on one hand, had to disregard my routine for an unexpected milkshake. She, on the other, had to face a matter of life and death for a loved one. More and more customers flooded the stand each day, coming and going with a smile on their face. Some I recognized, others were strangers to me. However, I never afterward allowed myself to feel prejudice towards the customers from my rival town, mindful of circumstances that they were going through in another aspect of their lives. Ice cream sundaes, like life, can be deceiving. One may view a sundae as appealing, soon finding the taste to be unsatisfying. A person may appear to be splendidly satisfied, yet may be facing turmoil that can be impossible to comprehend.