CNF 3: How To Hack An Ice Cream Sandwich  

12 steps to keep you from openly bawling in the workplace, at least most of the time 


For anyone who has ever longed for thicker skin, the ability to absorb criticism without flinching, or to be thought of as a tough as nails, boss ass bitch, allow me to share some wisdom from the restaurant industry: If you can’t hack an ice cream sandwich, you’re never going to make it.

That is, if you can’t figure out a way to cope with mistakes, frustrations, criticism, and hostility, the small, seemingly inconsequential things will obliterate you. 

So, from my vantage point in the kitchen to your vantage point wherever, I present to you a guide to keep from openly bawling in the workplace when things go awry. You’re welcome!

  1. Ground Yourself 

It’s true: some work weeks stretch 8 days wide and 16 hours long. You’re very tired, I know. Ground yourself. Caffeinate your soul, meditate in the bathroom, eat the deli of leftover pasta from the staff shelf. Your prep list is insane, and your hustle, absurd. But today you will be making bougie ice cream sandwiches–the signature dessert at the restaurant– from scratch for the first time, and that’s fucking exciting. 

  1.  Enjoy The Process

Blast your playlist and let Amy Winehouse’s voice guide your movements as you turn vanilla ice cream and prepare the sheet-tray-sized chocolate cookie layers it will sit between. Let the ocean breeze roll in through the windows to calm you. Notice the moments when you’re content rather than anxious. Slow down.

  1. Accept The Prospect Of Failure

You’ve put your best foot forward. Admirable. Now accept that error is always imminent. What was that? You’re a perfectionist-control-freak-with-an-addictive-personality? Heard. I get it. My condolences. This step is extra for you. You need to be okay with making mistakes. These learning/teaching moments are proof you’re human.

Consider the scrapy recipe before you. You don’t have much to work with, and nobody took the time to guide you. You’re smart and capable, but you can’t always be ten steps ahead. It’s frustrating, I know. 

  1. Hack it, Literally 

With your clumsy hands and cold chef’s knife, attempt to slice precisely measured squares from the giant sheet of ice cream sandwich you carefully assembled this morning. Fail miserably. Make a goddamn mess. You didn’t go to culinary school and so nobody taught you to dunk your knife in hot water before making such a cut. A co-worker explained this trick to you in other contexts, but the notion of using a HOT blade to make a clean cut on an ice cream sandwich was not, in fact, intuitive to your brain at the time (won’t it just melt????). Spoiler alert: it won’t! But thats a fun fact we’re just gonna have to pocket for next time.

  1. Get Grumped At For “Hack Job” 

A very hostile WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! WHY ARE YOU DOING THAT?!  Will inevitably get hurled rhetorically in your direction as you are pushed aside. IT’S LIKE THIS. LIKE I TOLD YOU!

When you are reprimanded with fiery antagonism that feels hotter and sharper than the blade slicing the ice cream sandwich itself… 

  1. Resist the urge to…

…cry

…scream

…quit on the spot

…drink your frustrations away at the bar when you get off work in 10 hours 

Also, resist the urge to explain yourself. Explanations are excuses in kitchen world. 

  1. Shame Stand In The Corner And Thunk About Whatchyou’vedone 

Kidding. Sort of. So you were scolded like a child who doesn’t listen, and you feel like a child in return. Fear you might melt down in tandem with the ice cream sandwich before you? Take a step back. 

I get that it feels impossible to move. Admittedly, your inexplicable sadness is wayyyy, wayyy out of proportion relative to the task at hand, but that knowledge won’t bring breath into your lungs or keep tears from your eyes. Collect yourself. You’re not stupid or incompetent. I promise the ice cream sandwich is not a metaphor for your life.

  1. Take Nothing Personally 

Period. 

  1. Realize Being Tough As Nails Is Overrated 

Where did that saying even come from, anyway? Any WHY have you always insisted upon identifying with a piece of metal that gets repeatedly beaten down with a hammer? Is this not total bullshit?

Realize that this is total bullshit.

Embrace your sensitivity; It’s not feminine weakness. You’re allowed to acknowledge when your feelings are hurt, if only to yourself. Was the hostility you just faced humbling criticism or humiliating malevolence? Does it even matter? Do you really need to prove your grit or your humility to anyone regardless, or will doing so just steal your precious energy?

Remember when you thought that suppressing your emotions was a sign of strength and expressing them, a sign of weakness? How do you feel about that sentiment right now? Do you even have the energy to care?

If your answer is NO, or better yet, FUCK NO! I commend you.

“You’re so… stoic” is not the ultimate compliment, or really even a compliment at all. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Discern this and I think you’ll be alright, kid.

  1. Find Humor

One day, this will all be funny. Or rather, it will stay absurd. Find humor. Your co-worker is turning purple over your improper slicing of an ICE CREAM SANDWICH. And you in turn wish you were literally dead. Whaaaaaat?

  1. Hack It, Idiomatically

Hack (verb): cut with rough or heavy blows

 Congratulations! you’ve already done this. 

What you need now is a shift in perspective. I’d highly recommend:

Hack (noun): a clever solution to a tricky problem 

or

Hack it (idiomatic): to complete or tolerate a task or situation. 

Personally, I find hacking an ice cream sandwich in the latter regards to be far more optimistic. Now you have the skills to do so! Steps 1-10 are, after all, instructions on getting through. 

  1. Save The Evidence of Your Failings

Poorly cut scraps of bougie ice cream sandwiches make for bougie midnight snacks. Save them in the walk-in freezer and cry into them on your walk home. Cheers!


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