I was sitting in my living room the other day, looking out at the boats, when off to my left down the road I heard a very familiar little children’s jingle. It was the Mister Softee truck jingle.
Doodle de doop da doop di doop, da doop de doop de la!
I thought, isn’t that nice. Somewhere the big white truck was parked on a residential street with the big side window open, the Mister Softee man leaning out and all the children from the community lined up to get a raspberry pop or a vanilla cone with sprinkles.
This is a resort, but as it happens, I live up in Springs, which is filled with kids on bicycles and neighborhood baseball games in the little park down the way. It’s nice to know there is more to this place than just the resort. Fact is, the East End was beautiful before it was a resort, and you can find the great beauty almost everywhere. Come up Three Mile Harbor Road and you will get to the spot where the boats back up to the road and, behind them, the sun sets across the way. People sit in their cars and watch the sun go down over the boats here. And sometimes, stepping out from the living room onto the deck, so do I. My house is on the hillside opposite the boats.
The Mister Softee truck song was a little louder. And then a little louder. The driver must be taking it from one block to the next. The kids must have finished up and he was on to the next block.
But then, the whole thing takes a very strange turn. The sound is getting louder and louder. Now I can see him, way off in the distance down Three Mile Harbor Road, a white truck coming my way. It is the Mister Softee truck dot moving right along. In fact, it is barreling along, the music louder and louder. Now I can see the driver, a kid, maybe 19 years old, hunched over the wheel, heading straight up my road. He doesn’t need to have the jingle on. Certainly he doesn’t need to have it on full volume. But it is.
He whizzes past. My dog barks once. And then he is gone. Now the jingle gets softer and softer and softer until finally it fades away.
What kind of Mister Softee Man is this? He doesn’t know what he is doing. He heads up the road at full speed and in the houses along the way, as the kids hear the jingle, they run to their parents shouting It’s the ice cream man, the ice cream man! A few dollars change hands and the kids run out of the house to the sidewalk, and astonishingly the ice cream man just whizzes right by, leaving them standing there looking at the taillights and those little white paddles that stick out with the word STOP in red on them.
There goes the Mister Softee Man.
Doesn’t Mister Softee have manuals for their drivers? Here’s a Mister Softee Man driving at high speed up the street, oblivious to the fact that he is leaving disillusionment and sadness on the sidewalk in his wake, felt by kids who have run out clutching dollar bills, come to a halt by the curb. He passes by them and they issue a long group moan, turn and slowly walk back to their homes. Up here where I am, there are even a few people standing up in their boats, money in hand, in shock.
I don’t know if you are reading this, young Mister Softee Man. What is the problem? They give you a route to follow? A route they know will fill your day? And you’ve decided, maybe, that you have a date with a girl in the afternoon and so you will do the route in just 45 minutes, and, sorry to report, nobody wanted an ice cream but you did
You should never be allowed to have a raspberry swirl sugar cone with rainbow sprinkles ever again.