Thursday, November 17, 2011

Hey little heroes, summer's long but I guess it ain't very sweet around here anymore

Somewhere out there is a security tape that would have taken place at your local neighborhood Windmill.  For those of you not in the know, The Windmill is a mecca of fast food delight found only in the cosmic center of the universe.

The Windmill is famous for its cheesefries, and, in my head, a fantastically low-cost, unintentionally hilarious commercial that they shot in the '90s in which they declared that there was "a location located conveniently near you!" followed by someone proclaiming that they "travel over 50 miles for the cheesefries!"

 Anyway, I imagine the security tape's footage is rather grimy, both with age and because it's on a VHS.  Everything is black, white and shades of gray, except for the bright yellow polos splattered with ice cream worn by a group of overly tan blonde kids.   They are slowly passing bulging white paper bags over the counter and receiving baskets of greasy delight back.

The footage then fades out.

 There exists, in this world, an underground economy ruled by 16 year-olds.  And dammit, I miss being a part of it.

Sal and I had lunch the other day, and it is really depressing how hard it is to find a decent lunch for under $10. And sure, some of it is the recession, and some of it is urban living, but add in a general desire for some sort of healthiness, throw in some gluten-intolerance, and the under $10 lunch, for me, is rare.

Being a grown-up sucks. 

But!  When I was 16!  We didn't pay for anything.  We knew someone at the local bakery, the local deli, the local pizzeria and the local candy shop.  And yes, our town DID have all those things, because we grew up in the before-mentioned cosmic center of the universe and you did not.

Where we're better than you.

We also knew someone at the local Wendy's, which my brother used to his advantage frequently until- TANGENT!

You know, Sal's right, this isn't technically a tangent, but I don't feel like taking a new picture.

--the girl who was taking orders through the intercom recognized his voice, interrupted to predict his order and ask if he wanted it Biggie-sized "like usual."  

I do not like the cone of shame.

This didn't actually stop him from eating Wendy's, it just stopped him from going there in person.  Instead, the next week I was sent to pick up our order, and I declined the free Frosty since I was on my way to work at the ice cream shop.  When I mentioned this at work, I was immediately derided and told that a Frosty is not the same thing as a milkshake.  Live and learn.

To me, a Frosty was close enough, and I didn't have much of a taste for ice cream while I was working there.  My friends never hit that point, though, and would still come in "to visit" frequently.  They got to jump the hour-long line and eat for free, even my vegan friend Paul, who would eat bowls of crunchies and maraschino cherries. 

Life was good.

It couldn't last, though, which brings me to the security footage.  We had a deal with the local Windmill, where we would call ahead of time and give them an order and in exchange take their orders for ice cream.  We'd go over after work and make the trade.  It was glorious.

Until one day, we called and nobody we knew was working.  Turns out the owner finally got around to watching the security footage and fired the entire night crew.  

It was the beginning of the end.  It took over 10 years, but I don't get free ice cream anymore.  The last of the family finished working there, and even my younger sister no longer really knows any of the current staff.  And nobody, anywhere, ever cares when you tell them that you used to work there.  They will still charge you full price. The New York Times tells me that a lot of teenagers can't even get a summer job anymore.

But for a few summers, we walked barefoot, we skipped the line, and we ate for free.

And then we were home, by midnight.  


  1. The first time I actually had to give my order at Mike's subs, and not just have them start to make it when they saw me ride up on my bike, I looked around for a hidden camera, sure this must be a prank. But, but, don't you know me??? My school uniform used to hang on the wall and now you expect me to have to tell you to hold the onions?!?! F that noise.
    Sidenote.. a friend from high school is actually back working at Sundaes, so I get to skip the line again! Hooray for things going full circle!

  2. Love this. I sort of feel the same way when I go back to Mad Maggie's - which isn't even called Mad Maggie's anymore! - and no one I know is working. Sad. And not just because it means I have to pay for pool.

  3. I love how you guys wish to comment on your shared malaise. I still get free food at Atlantis, but the point I took away from this story is, OMG FEED ME CHEEZ FRIEZ RIGHT NOWZ.