Yesterday as I was leaving for work, the familiar childhood tune of “Turkey In The Straw” was echoing through our neighborhood. Living in a very spread out neighborhood filled with acreage- it can be heard for blocks. It is also rare for the ice cream truck to come by. This happens maybe two or three times in the summer.
A few minutes later I was in my car driving. At the stop sign, I saw the ice cream truck stopped in front of my neighbors. A mother and her kid were walking away, and then a boy was walking up with another boy beside him. This other boy was my son.
So I pulled over and walked up to them. My son looked guilty as if I had just caught him doing something he shouldn’t. As I walked up, the other boy’s father also walked up. He told me that Theory is a really great kid and that the ice cream was their treat. Which was mighty neighbourly of them.
Besides going to see what my son was up to, I knew who the ice cream man was. No, it wasn’t Freddy Krueger…
Back when I finished high school, I would work four afternoons a week as a gas station cashier. An older fella worked the graveyard shift. This was Nelson. I would see him at turnover and we didn’t have much in common since he was twice my age at the time. We were both let go when the gas station changed ownership. I went off to eventually work at a variety of jobs. Where as Nelson went to be an ice cream truck driver. The year was 1996.
We spoke briefly, mostly exchanging pleasantries and a bit of idle chitchat. I felt bad for this 61 year old guy driving a truck with faded paint and signage. So I ended up buying some overpriced frozen treats for the rest of my family in order to support this former coworker. Sure, he looks kinda creepy with his coke bottle glasses and missing teeth. He’s also been delivering ice cream for ages, listening to the same tinkling of bells, and dealing with children; he must have lost some marbles along the way. I swear it’s the same truck I saw him driving when he first started the gig.
If you stop at an ice cream truck in Langley and see the old guy with greasy black hair and 1980’s glasses, rummaging through his old Viking freezer for the $4.00 bar your kid so desperately wants- make sure you say “Thank you Nelson”.
His smile will be genuine because he really does love his job.