Please Welcome Chad...
I was an ice cream man during the summer of 1991 in Nashville, TN . A couple friends of mine and I had headed out into the Nashville job market that summer between our Freshman and Sophomore years at Vanderbilt University, calling on law firms and the like looking for an internship. That, obviously (and naively on our part), didn’t go so well… so, instead, after several fruitless days, we answered a classified ad listing in the newspaper – “Wanted: Ice Cream Men”.
We signed right up. The Humor Man’s HQ resembled an unkempt bomb shelter clad in 70s wood paneling, but we were college guys and our house didn't look much different. After watching a quick 30 minute video on vehicle operation (in retrospect, the video slightly resembled the DHARMA Initiative instructional videos from the TV show Lost), we were hired.
The entire first day of our job (for which we did not get paid for) was spent riding along with another seasoned Ice Cream Man professional to “learn the ropes”. Between the three of us, I was the only one that lasted past that first day. Neither of my friends came back for day 2, partially because they were smarter than I… and, probably more importantly, because both of them had been paired up with ex-con sociopath Ice Cream Man professionals. I, on the other hand, was paired up with a musician trying to break into Nashville’s country music scene. For the most part, there are some pretty scary dudes working the ice cream trucks. This is NOT a high paying job and, thus, does not pull the highest quality of workers.
There is no “gas allowance”, so the closer your “territory” is to the Bomb Shelter the better. As you can probably imagine, territories are viscously fought over. A driver once threatened to melt my "product" by unplugging my truck at night.
My truck had three music channels I could choose from to break up the musical monotony (think how annoying you find the ice cream man’s music and then imagine listening to it all day long). The first channel on my truck played the classic circus tune (you’d know it if you heard it). The second channel was supposed to play a nice Chopin classical number, but would switch back and forth between that and the circus music whenever you hit a bump on the road. The third channel produced a loud keening sound, which was great if you ever needed to clear traffic.
I kept the music channel set to #2 because it provided the most variety and because it made me smile to think of how confused people must be sitting in their homes listening to this crazy bipolar jukebox blaring from the passing ice cream truck.
The truck that I was given (#14) was, I believe, one of the reject trucks that no one else wanted. I didn’t really know what a bum truck I had been given until a month or so into it when my truck broke down. I was given a "loaner" truck until mine got fixed.
When I got the “loaner” truck for a day, the music box had 14 channels to choose from! 14!!! It was like an early Ipod… just loaded with crappy music… but, I loved that music box and having that truck and that music box for just that one day was the best experience of my entire ice cream man career.
And that, folks, is about as exciting as it gets when you are an Ice Cream Dude.