Let’s get on the same page real quick: this is not about the game or musical instrument nor is it fiction or particularly entertaining. It’s probably a bit whiny and not super helpful. But it is a building block for later posts. Like the first Lego block placed to make that sweet van on the box. So skip it if you want and revisit later if you need to. Or join me for a quick romp through an incident I can’t forget.

Quick hit scene setting:

This story can’t be any more recent than mid-2016 (I think, time is now meaningless)

My family and I are grabbing ice cream after dinner “downtown” (it’s a small city, there’s no uptown, or even midtown), it’s probably a weekend

4+ employees are completing various tasks behind the counter, or not, at least 1 was probably just standing around, right?

My name has been called, I have just retrieved my cup of ice cream (likely chocolate with coffee and oreos mixed in)

I make my way over to the kiosk-type thing where they keep the various tools and implements you may need to enjoy their wares (ice cream and coffee related indulgences (is this thing an ice croutrement station? (I know, lots of parentheticals, get used to it, this is how my brain works))).

It’s a pretty standard setup, if I recall correctly. (I tried to find a picture of it, I lost interest. Seems like it’s the only part of the shop they haven’t posted a picture of, which is borderline impressive.) You’ve got your napkins, your stir sticks, your stainless steel cups positioned at an angle for optimal utensil retrieving ease, probably some coffee sleeves. You get the picture.

This is the moment. This is the beginning of: The Incident™.

Since the lighting is dimmed to maximum mood levels and the cups are angled just so and just deep enough, the ultimate choose-your-own-adventure of spoon discovery is created.

I choose one cup and pull out a plastic dinglehopper. Not a spoon.

Next cup. Not a spoon.

Honestly, I don’t remember how many cups there were. Or if at least one was empty. I’ll cut to the chase.

No spoons.

In a business that specializes in ice cream and coffee. Only. That’s it. That’s the menu.

I took a trip back in time (aka visited the wayback machine) and can’t find evidence that it was any different long ago in the foggy mist that is the pre-2020s. 

Why the f@&k do you have forks and knives?!

Are people cutting their ice cream cones or stabbing their latte foam?

(If you do this, please don’t tell me. It ruins the gravitas.)

Now, I was not the only patron to have noticed this interesting choice for eating implement options. Any effort to alert the staff to this obvious oversight in replenishment was received with a simple “we’re out”.

I get it. I understand. Shipments get delayed. Unexpected rushes happen. Someone thinks a box of forks (in an ice cream shop) is actually a box of spoons and miscounts. Things happen. We’re all human.

But it’s a weekend in a town where you are a well known destination on a night with weather that was clearly nice enough for impromptu ice cream enjoyment. 

Maybe this is a problem you should try to fix.

This is where we hit the point where this transitions from an inconvenient thing (first world problems and all that) that happened that I’ll try to spin into a humorous anecdote to use for a month or three of small talk to me going down the rabbbit hole. 

Google tells me this shop is a 7 minute walk from a CVS. An 11 minute walk from a supermarket. 

As a big Seth Godin fanboy, I can practically hear the rant (his word, not mine).

What was the point of failure where the path that led to one of the employees grabbing a $20 or two from the register and walking to get a much needed supply for the shop to get them through the rest of the night (we are not a family of super late night ice cream eaters, not saying we wouldn’t but this was not the cusp of quittin’ time) was left in favor of the one where the employee serving the customer tells them that the lack of spoons is “your problem, not mine”.

Those aren’t the exact words they used, but it was the subtext. “I’m just here to serve ice cream so I don’t get fired.”

These kids were cogs (almost certainly high school students and maybe college students). They were there to meet spec and make money. I don’t begrudge them that. And it’s not their fault. 

It’s the managers (or owners if the managers are in the same boa).

It seems obvious that at no point were they empowered or entrusted with the authority to feel the need to take responsibility in a situation like this.

Where is the linchpin?

Yada yada, etc etc. You get the point. 

If you’ve made it this far you are either desperate to fall asleep and hoping against hope this story will help somehow or you are interested (which seems vanishingly unlikely). Either way, I’ll leave you with a question that will act as a teaser for what comes next and hopefully help, regardless of which camp you fall into.

What’s your spoon?


Also available on Substack if you’re into that kind of thing.