“R.I.P Cherry Popsicle, you will be missed”, I watched as my best friend Olli’s popsicle slid off the stick and on to the ground.
“C’mon! Is one perfectly good popsicle too much to ask for!”, she wailed. I laughed, Olli had the worst luck, and I probably should’ve seen that coming when I offered her a popsicle from a nearby vendor.
“Don’t laugh! You purposely gave me a faulty popsicle as a trick! You're always tricking me! Little snake!”, she got up and marched to the nearest trash can. Before I could respond, Carmen pulled up in the parking lot, blaring the Ice Cream Truck’s annoying jingle.
“Cut that out!”, I called, Carmen looked me straight in the eye and turned up the volume, pretending not to hear me.
“No she’s right! Turn that cursed incantation off Carm!”, Olli walked back to the bench and sat down. Carmen gave in and shut off the music.
“C’mon slow pokes we have a shift to run”, she patted the outside of the truck and motioned for us to climb inside.
Me and Olli looked at each other and sighed. Today was our big day, we were taking our truck to the “Art in our Hearts” festival. “It’s like the biggest art-themed flea market ever!”, Olli had explained to me when she told us what we were doing. I for one was super nervous. I was used to sitting outside the YMCA in 78 degree heat while a few people came to buy ice cream at a time. Or driving around neighborhoods for the slight possibility that some kids would notice us and chase us down. A festival was something different. Thousands of people would be there, and some people could be rude. What if we couldn’t handle all those people? Me, Olli, and Carmen had gone through a lot, but this was going to be our biggest thing yet!
We arrived about 2 hours early. We drove to an open field with a few picnic tables under some tent things. On the far side of the field were a few food trucks parked and getting ready, so Carmen drove us to our respective spot. Then we had two hours to prepare ourselves...mentally.
“Is the cash register ready and loaded?”, Carmen shouted from the driver’s seat.
“Yup! We can break every 20 they throw at us!”, Olli replied.
Carmen looked over at me in the rear-view mirror, “What about the ice cream? The fridge is working? And we have all the flavors right?”.
“Roger. I even put up the allergy warning sign”, I gave her a thumbs up. Carmen sighed, she was probably the most stressed out of all of us. She had the most to lose I guess, her parents were being super hardcore and refused to loan her any money. This was the first job she was hired for, and me and Olli made a secret pact to make sure Carmen looked great at her job. If we messed up, in the bosses' eyes Carmen messed up too. We couldn’t let that happen.
We sat in the truck, talking about what we wanted to major in and what we were planning on using our work salaries for. Olli wanted a puppy, she had been doing lots of research these past months and had even talked to a few dog breeders about what she wanted. She was set to get a little chocolate lab named Jet in 3 months if all went according to plan. I wanted a Jeep, a nice red one with a custom made license plate. Carmen just wanted to pay her student loans, typical Carmen.
At some point, I took another popsicle out of the fridge and snacked on it while Olli watched with envy in her eyes. She kept staring, and I kept eating. Eventually I just couldn’t take it anymore and offered her a deal.
“I will give you one popsicle, but I swear if you drop it we’re gonna have a problem”. Olli nods and I grabbed a popsicle for her, I’m about to ask Carmen if she wants one but I notice she's staring out the window. I’ve learned that if Carmen is staring at nothing, it's best to leave her alone.
Finally, after what seemed like forever, people started to come to the field. The festival had just begun, so people usually just wanted some water or a popsicle. It wasn’t until noon when people started getting hungry. Olli gave me the heads-up when she noticed some kids coming over to the truck, so we all got in position.
Carmen sat upright in the driver's seat and turned on the jingle, but to an appropriate volume this time. Olli took her place by the cash register, and I checked and double checked that we had all our flavors. Our first customer arrived, probably 5 years old with a $20 bill in hand.
“Hi there”, Olli said in her sing-songy “customer voice” as she calls it.
The kid shyly held up the money and asked for a chocolate ice cream. Olli took the kid’s money and put it in the cash register. Then she gave him $10 in change. I scooped up some chocolate ice cream and gave it to Olli.
“Here you go”, Olii gave the kid her trademark smile and waited for the next one. Then came two girls, probably 12 years old, with one $5 bill and a 20. The tallest girl approached Olli and slid the money on to the counter.
“We’d like one strawberry ice cream cone and one blueberry popsicle please”, she said. Olli took the money and started to get the change. Meanwhile I looked in the fridge for a popsicle. And handed it to Olli, she handed the girl the popsicle along with her change. Then she looked over at me for the ice cream. I quickly scooped some up and gave it to her. The girls thanked us and walked away. More and more customers, and more and more people started to enter the field. Soon, we ended up in a bit of a rush hour.
“Two chocolate scoops and one mint chocolate chip!”
“5 cherry popsicles!”
“Do we still have orange creamsicles?”
“ One banana creamsicle and 2 scoops of vanilla ice cream!”
“One mint chocolate, two vanillas, and an orange creamsicle!”, Olli’s shouts filled the entire truck. Carmen eventually moved out of the driver’s seat to give me a hand. I ended up scooping the ice creams, and Carmen took popsicles and other frozen treats out of the freezers.
The mob of people slowly started to dwindle, but not before I pointed out a large group of kids headed towards the field. Judging by their T-shirts, they were kids on a school field trip.
“Are you ready for this?”, I murmured. Olli nodded and grinned, Carmen just sighed.
“Ok then, here we go”.
The kids sat down at a table, and we watched as the teacher asked the kids a question. About a third of the kids raised their hands and took out some money. They got in a single file line and walked over to us. Olli checked the cash register one more time and smiled at the group.
“What can I get you all today?”, she asked.
The teacher approached us, “Can you just tell us what kind of popsicles you have?”.
Olli nodded, “Cherry, pink lemonade, lemon lime, blue raspberry, grape, orange, and banana”, she informed her.
The teacher turned around and rubbed her palms. “Ok then class, who wants cherry?”. About 5 students raised their hands. The teacher motioned for them to come to the front and give us their money. Carmen grabbed the popsicles from the fridge and handed them to the kids.
“Ok. How about pink lemonade?”, the teacher asked. Only two kids raised their hands that time. I grabbed the popsicles for Carmen and handed them to the kids. We basically did this until all the kids had popsicles.
“Would you like a popsicle ma’am?”, Olli politely asked.
“Haha, no. I spent all my money on these kids over here.”, her teacher gave an exhausted laugh.
“How about a popsicle on the house?”, Olli asked. Carmen opened her mouth to argue, but I silenced her with a glare. The teacher smiled and asked for an orange creamsicle. Carmen reluctantly took it out of the fridge. The teacher thanked us for the creamsicle and led the kids back to their table.
At some point the festival hosts came over to the field and told the truck drivers they could enjoy the rest of the fair. So Carmen, Olli, and I hopped out of the truck and roamed the streets of the festival. There were vendors everywhere! Selling paintings, jewelry, pins, 3D printed objects, scarves, pens, T-shirts, and so many other things. There were live performances, a step-dance group, an orchestra, two girls singing together, and a lot more. The entire festival was bustling with art and things to do. Olli grabbed Carmen’s hand and led her around the fair, picking out things to buy while Carmen just watched.
At some point we found a tye-dye station and we all picked out “Art in our Hearts” T-shirts. Then we all picked our colors and tye-died. It was super messy but really cool. Then Olli led us to get our faces painted. Olli became a tiger and I became a butterfly. Carmen refused to paint her face but she did find a Henna tattoo station and demanded we all get some. Olli and I agreed, if it would get Carmen excited, we would do anything!
After lots of browsing, I noticed a station that really caught my eye. It was someone selling necklaces, except they were made with bottle caps.
“Oh my god I need one right now!”, I declared. It was my turn to drag Carmen and Olli to a vendor. In a while each of us had been loaded down with cool trinkets. We finally stopped and went to a food stall and ate the most delicious Spanish food. I looked at Olli and Carmens smiling faces and decided this was the best day ever!