Soft Ice Cream Seller – Dire Experience!

Long ago, while still a student and still doing what students do, i.e getting a job at the start of the long holiday to garner some money for the obligatory hitch-hike to southern Europe, I landed a job selling soft-icecream from a van.

I thought I had landed in heaven, a job where I was out and about all day long, as much soft-icecream as I could eat and getting paid for all of this pleasure.

To add to this was the fact that I got this job immediately after being fired from my job in a sweet factory (see story here), so I really thought the gods were smiling upon me.

I was right, and also very wrong, as you will see.

I got the job from the labour exchange, and was told to report to the depot the following day early in the morning, which I duly did.

I was given a very friendly reception and I was introduced to my mobile workplace, how it all worked, the cleaning schedule – hygiene was of the highest importance I was told with icecream especially the soft variety, as it bred germs at a rate of knots given half a chance,

My van was really rather impressive, a Ford Transit with a couple of those machines which ooze soft icecream in a rather disgusting manner as well as a large fridge for ice-lollies and other frozen goodies, and most important of all, the set of chimes, which in my case was a rather nasty version of Greensleeves that played only the first couple of bars over and over again – I would come to HATE Greensleeves before I finished this particular job!


This isn’t the van I had (obviously), but it was pretty much the same as this one.

Before they would let me loose on the public, I also had to be taught how to dispense soft icecream properly, to get just the right twiddle on it as it oozed onto the top of the cone, a real skill I discovered, how to ensure that the icecream was the correct temperature to be soft, and not rock hard, or totally liquid.   How to give change and all the many arcane skills needed to be both the driver and server of such an icecream van.  And last but by no means least, i was shown the route I had to drive every day.

Not only the route, but at what times of the day I should be at any particular spot, as apparently it was of cardinal importance to always arrive at the same time of day every day, so one’s customers could plan their icecream consumption properly.   By the way, my route was so designed that I would make two rounds of it every day.  The implications of this small fact didn’t occur to me until much later, but turned out to be very worrisome I discovered.  More about that later.

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Odd Jobs That I Have had

Like all of us, at various points in my life I have had a wide range of jobs.   Also as with most of us, the great majority of these jobs were ones I had on my holidays when I was a student.  And most of them were pretty mundane – factory work, truck driving and so forth – they produced the money that I wanted to enable me to wander around Europe as a hitchhiker, but did nothing much else for me.

Ice-cream Anyone?

However, some of these holiday jobs had a profound effect on me in one way or another, and there are a couple that really stand out in my memory as significant to me and my world view.

The first of these jobs that I can bring to mind was when I was a driver/salesperson in one of those vans that chug around selling soft ice-cream to people.  On the face of it, a harmless occupation – but it had its dark side too….

This was the relatively large number of people in the Council house estates I trundled around in with my van and chimes, who came out every day (I did this 7 days a week) with large jugs that I had to fill with the soft ice I sold… Literally every day these misbegotten people bought kilos of ice-cream from me, and presumably ate it too…

Can you imagine a diet based around about 5 litres of ice-cream every day?   It really saddened me – no, lets be honest, it disgusted and revolted me to think of the harm these people were doing to themselves and their kids by eating the chemical rubbish I was selling as ice-cream…


Death Of A Centurion:

However, the job that really got in amongst me was when I worked as a Ward Orderly at a huge mental hospital.  Though frankly to call it a hospital seemed to me to be a wild overstatement, as the poor people in the ward where I worked never saw any doctors, except on rare occasions when they flipped completely and needed stronger tranquilizers to keep them calm and easy to control.

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