Becoming queen of the Blizzard

First jobs can be a learning experience. Iola teen Grace Garner just started her first paid job, and she's learning all about ice cream as well as picking up life skills.

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April 30, 2021 - 3:13 PM

Grace Garner, IHS senior/Iola Register intern, shows off her ice cream making skills. Photo by Trevor Hoag / Iola Register

“Cones are a pretty tricky thing.”

So says IHS senior/Iola Register intern Grace Garner, who just started her first paid job at the Iola Dairy Queen.

Garner has been hard at it after school for the past few weeks, though she hadn’t planned to even work this summer.

It all started when she overheard IHS paraeducator Selena Wallace, who also happens to be the Dairy Queen manager, talking about reopening the store for spring.

Grace Garner strikes a pose outside the Iola Register office.Photo by Trevor Hoag / Iola Register

“What are you guys talking about?” asked Garner innocently.

Without skipping a beat, Wallace asked her, “Are you over 18? Do you want a job? … Come to Dairy Queen at 4 tonight.”

The rest, as they say, is history.

‘As soon as I filled out my paperwork Selena pushed me right into it,’ Garner said. ‘I learned how to make a cone and a Blizzard on my first day.’

“As soon as I filled out my paperwork Selena pushed me right into it,” Garner said.

“I learned how to make a cone and a Blizzard on my first day.”

It’s not as easy as you might think, Garner explained.

“Blizzards are the easiest thing to make, in my opinion,” she noted. “The recipe is on the wall that tells you how many scoops of ice cream and topping to add.”

By contrast, “some of the hardest things to make are cones.”

Why? “Because it depends on the ice cream consistency and how hot it is outside; you’ve also got to balance, and if you’re dipping a cone, you wanna make sure that it’s not so soft it’s going to go hurdling into the cone dip.”

“I’ve actually never dropped it in the cone dip,” Garner added, laughing.

“When all of us started out with cones, all of them were super-wobbly,” she said. “It was more like sad, sad little swirls.”

‘When all of us started out with cones, all of them were super-wobbly,’ she said. ‘It was more like sad, sad little swirls.’

But what a difference a few weeks can make.

“I actually caught on fairly quickly,” Garner said. “I make a good cone now.”

She’s even begun to train other employees.

That said, “sometimes the ice cream comes out really fast and you’re, like, Whoa!” And banana splits are just “annoying.”

Grace Garner uses the ice cream machine at Dairy Queen.Photo by Trevor Hoag / Iola Register

Speaking of annoyances, one lofty task embedded in a first job is learning how to cope with customers.

Garner said folks often ignore COVID-19 safety protocols, for one, by trying to come inside the building, and can often be rather demanding when it comes to getting what they (think they) want.

“It’s minute weird things,” she said, like insisting that an ice cream cup isn’t full to the brim with toppings … when it’s millimeters away.

And don’t even get Garner started on the difference between a chocolate cone and a chocolate-dipped one.

When asked if the fringe benefits, such as being surrounded by ice cream, are worth dealing with unreasonable humans, she said, “I’m actually lactose intolerant.”

“I mean, I still eat it sometimes,” she added, laughing, but “I usually regret it in the morning.”

“Good thing I actually don’t like sweets all that much.”

Grace Garner strikes a pose outside the Iola Register office.

Another challenge that Garner and her fellow employees have had to navigate is working together in cramped conditions.

“We work in such a small workspace that people are doing ‘Twister’ to put Dilly Bars in the cone dip to make them,” she said.

“People will be half-way into the supply closet. … It’s incredibly small. We’re constantly bumping into each other.”

“Think of five hallways, mismatched together; that’s Dairy Queen,” Garner laughed.

When asked whether her parents, Donita and Mitch, encouraged her to get a job in order to learn responsibility, etc., Garner simply grinned.

‘No, it’s not a character-building thing. I think I’m OK,’ she said. ‘I’m getting old and need that cash.’

“No, it’s not a character-building thing. I think I’m OK,” she said.

“I’m getting old and need that cash.”

She’s also looking forward to renting an apartment with her friend while attending Allen Community College this fall.

One potential goal thereafter, is going to work in graphic design, though Garner is keeping her eyes wide and her horizons open.

Grace Garner takes an order from a customer.

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