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March 25, 2007 [ More archived home pages here ]
Around this time forty years ago, I met Andy Jambrik. Andy was the owner of the Tastee-Freez that once stood on the corner of 79th Street and Marquette Ave., on Chicago's south-side near Rainbow Beach. It was the typical kind of store for that business, with large glass windows all around the front of the building. I found an artist's impression of a Tastee-Freez store here.
One of my best friends, Larry Dalke, worked for Andy and introduced me to him to apply for a part-time job there. Andy hired me that day. Soon I would be learning about the business and much more.
Most of the hours I spent there were working under supervision by Andy or Larry. We served a variety of cold and hot food items. Andy made it clear to me we were not selling "ice cream", we sold "soft-serve" products. We sold milk-shakes, floats, sundaes, cones, banana-splits, and the soft-serve itself by the pint or quart. We sold hamburgers, hot-dogs, fries, fish, pizza-burgers, and onion rings. We sold carbonated drinks of all flavors.
We sold a lot of items. We sold enough for Andy to only need to work eight months of the year. He could vacation in Florida during the cold months in Chicago.
The summer days were constantly busy all day long. We had customers lined up from the curb to the service window for hours at a time. I find it hard to believe that I used to be able to remember large orders of items and deliver those items in a timely fashion to the customers. It was the beginning of project management for me, I guess.
I could take orders like the following: 10 shakes (5 chocolate, 3 vanilla, two fresh strawberry); 8 sodas ( 4 large, 3 medium, 1 small); 10 orders of fries; 6 hamburgers (3 with everything, 2 with mustard and ketchup only, 1 with grilled onions); 3 hot dogs with everything; two large chocolate and marshmallow sundaes, two banana-splits, and 3 large cones. Those were usually from the beach crowds. I was able to do all of it and calculate the cost including tax all in my head. Nowadays I need a list just to remember to do one or two things. ;-)
When I worked nights with Andy, I learned about the business from Andy. He taught me many principles about customers. He talked to me about life too. Andy was a great mentor to me. He was also one of my best friends in life.
When I worked afternoons with Larry, we often had some slack time. We used to goof-off in the back of the store. One time, I was telling Larry about my scuba diving hobby. He wanted to know what it was like to scuba dive. I happened to have my tank, regulator, and mask in the back of the red Volkswagen I drove then. I brought those items in the store and we filled-up the deep kitchen sink with water. I put the tank on Larry and he put on the mask, slipping the regulator in his mouth. Larry then submerged his head into the sink, blowing bubbles as he breathed in-and-out.
While Larry was in the back playing, "Mike Nelson" from Sea Hunt, a customer came to the window upfront so I went up to attend to him. The Tastee-Freez was situated next to a tavern, right on the other side of the parking lot. This customer was a little drunk after apparently coming out of the tavern. He was starting to mumble his order, when suddenly, Larry emerges from the back of the store with the tank and mask on, dripping wet exclaiming, "That's cool!". The customer took one startled look at Larry and ran back to the tavern! I was laughing my ass off.
Andy wasn't spared from my practical jokes either. I watched Andy's technique of filling small soda cups with soda after putting ice in first. He would stand directly above the nozzle of the soda dispenser, looking straight down into the cup as it would fill. I decided to play the trick him I'll describe next.
I took a stack of small soda cups and split them into two stacks. I would use the one stack set apart and Andy, habitually would use the stack positioned where he had always expected it to be. I then took two small cups. I cut the bottom of one out and then I cut the bottom of the other out, slightly larger than the first one. Placing the second bottom into the first, it was ready. I positioned the cup in the middle of the his stack and waited. Just as planned, Andy reached for that cup while the customers were lined up back to the sidewalk.
Andy put the ice in the cup, no problem. He stood directly above the cup as he started to fill the cup which usually only took about three seconds to fill it up. This time, the bottom fell the short distance to the tray unnoticed by Andy, with the soda pouring through the bottom as he held the dispenser open above, the ice chips wedged together, preventing the whole clump from falling through. After about five seconds Andy says, "Hey, why is this taking so long to fill up?" Now, the customers are laughing and pointing at the scene. Andy looks at them, then looks at the cup from another angle to see what's happening. At this point, I start laughing out loud at him. Andy turns to me and says, "You dirty bird!" Years later we both used to laugh at that setup. Andy had a great sense of humor, but kept a watchful eye for me after that. :-)
I worked for Andy from 1967 and 1968 as a regular employee during the months he was open. In later years I would sometimes work for him when he needed some extra help. I never accepted money from him after 1973, I was just happy to repay him for his kindness towards me and my family over the years. The last time I helped him was for a week in 1988 after he had his heart transplant.
Andy passed away in March 1994. I last saw him in December 1992 at Christmas time. He was a great friend to me. Larry and I talk about Andy from time-to-time. We miss him.
This year's Apple WWDC should be cool! Here is a list of Conference Sessions and Labs offered there.
In reading this article about Cal State Faculty, I can understand where they are coming from. A couple years ago I submitted applications for some administrative managerial jobs there. Except for the executive openings, all the other jobs listed had this paraphrased qualifier, "This job is expected to be filled at the low end of the salary range." So, executives get great salaries but everybody else gets the low end? I don't think so! Below is section from that newspaper article that I think is very important.
"Various state lawmakers have voiced their displeasure with the CSU administration and trustees.
The times they are a changing at Cal State...
I finish today's message with the following Digital Insight.
Temporal Reconnections (created June 2004)
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