May 20th, 2012

Whale fluke

It's a reason. Just not a very good one.

There are almost always multiple reasons for doing anything. The reasons for what anybody does may boil down to the root excuse that Harlan Ellison once came up with -- It seemed like a good idea at the time -- but more than one reason's usually there, if you're honest. It's good exercise to think I will do this for Reason A, Reason B, and, to an extent, Reason C, even if one reason's a bigger motivator than the others.

So. Except for one time in college when I went with several dorm mates to one, I have not been to a Baskin-Robbins since 1987 or 1988. The reason, the one big (if I'm to be honest) reason? Annoyance.

Junior-High Me went to one in a Reston, Virginia shopping center that's since been almost completely remodeled, where I was waiting after tae kwan do class for Mom to pick me up. It was winter, so I was probably in eighth grade, my hair short *, my voice still relatively high and definitely no facial hair to speak of -- and one of the people behind the counter called me "ma'am."

I wasn't androgynous; I was really just indeterminate, and at that moment buried in a shapeless gray coat. I realized later that it could've been hard to tell that I was a boy. But being mistaken to my face for another gender -- whoa, that threw me. And bothered me. And annoyed me. I didn't say anything, but got my cone and went.

Just that was enough for me, an even more serious version of myself than I am now **, not to want to go to Baskin-Robbins. And except for a circa 1993 trip where it would've been rude not to go with people, I haven't.

I got reminded of that yesterday when, in the mood for a milkshake, I asked a clerk at the Hollywood Things From Another World if anyplace close had milkshakes. The neighborhood has, it turns out, a Baskin-Robbins; the clerk suggested that (and, failing that, the nearby McDonald's). I thanked him, and didn't tell him my very personal (and definitely unfair) boycott that made me not want to go to one. Later I went to the Original Hotcake and Steak House on SE Powell near Milwaukie Ave. and the Aladdin Theater, because I knew I can get milkshakes there.

I said it was unfair of me. Here's more evidence of that: not long after that first time, I got called "ma'am" one more time, at an Erol's Video that I rarely went to in Herndon (I usually went to the Vienna Erol's). I didn't boycott Erol's (or Blockbuster once the bigger company bought the smaller). At some point, I kept up the boycott mainly because it amused me to do so, to have this weird reason that no longer applies. Yes, on some things, I can be stubborn. But nowadays, if I were somehow mistaken for being female, I'd mainly be amused. Because I have no reason or desire to try to pass for female.

So. Any of you have any feelings on Baskin-Robbins one way or another? Any reasons I should stop -- or keep up -- this weird little boycott? Is Baskin-Robbins the only ice cream chain that uses child labor or Soylent Green or something, right? Then I can feel my boycott's justified! Or if Baskin-Robbins uses ice cream made from renewable, free-range unicorn farts or something? Then I'd feel bad for dissing the company.

* As these pictures show, up to sixth grade my hair was straight. Then, one part of my hairdo started to curl, above my right eye and nowhere else. I was distracted enough by that to, once or twice, cut off the nub of curling hair, leaving my hairdo uneven until I next got to the Vienna Hair Cuttery on Maple Avenue. Then I dealt with the curling simply by getting even shorter haircuts than before, until college. When, suddenly without much money, I started going months without cutting my hair. WHICH CAME OUT IN WAVY GLORY.

** Back then I was slowly, concertedly, sometimes even painfully trying to build up more of a sense of humor. That was -- is! -- a work in progress, but thank everything I can more easily laugh now. My humor is hard-fought-for and hard-won.
I listen

Still greater respect for food service

That was my first really tiring day of food cart work. It was busy today at Big-Ass Sandwiches, actually busier than the cooks and I expected. I won't give specifics; that's the business of Brian and Lisa, since it's their business; all I'll say is we fed lots of people and got more people taking pictures of the cart than I thought we'd get. (And an almost-customer who was first fussy about one part of her order, then honestly put out and annoyed that every sandwich comes with fries. Didn't get an order from her. Sorry to her; that sandwich she almost ordered got made for someone who wanted it!)

I already had loads of respect for Lisa and Brian for the amount of work it takes to make this cart run. I'm adding to that respect, now that I have a little experience (three mere days' worth so far) of how much energy each shift takes. And I was just there for a little over four hours; this doesn't match how much they must think about the place, about stocking it, about solving the problems that come up during the day, about coordinating shifts. I'm now pretty sure I'm not going to run any businesses; I like supporting them.

And it is damn satisfying seeing how much people love these sandwiches.