“Promotion” by Claire Donzelli

Claire Donzelli


I came to love the way our store
Was filled with the scent of waffle cones.
Is it silly?
That working at an ice cream shop
Somehow made me feel less alone.

On those summer nights
When the line of customers stretched down the block,
I cheered inside while my co-workers groaned.

I didn’t miss the sense of dread
When my report card came home.
Or the grating thoughts inside my head
When relatives asked, where are you going to college?
Oh. When are you going back?

Scooping ice cream was my meditation,
Work became my mind’s vacation
And, to my surprise, a minimum wage job
Was stronger than any medication

But still, they’d always ask,
When are you going back?

But I was making people happy, and I didn’t want to leave.
I got employee of the month,
I scooped ice cream at lightning speed,
My co-workers were my family, my team,
So really, what more could I need?

Then the weather changed.
The steady stream of customers became a trickle
There were cut-backs, and I saw my co-workers little.

The district manager came one day
After an interview, he said
You deserve a promotion and a raise.
You’re assistant manager material.

When I turned him down, he said,
School’s overrated.
If you change your mind, come back.
You can always work here instead.

As tempting as his offer was,
I knew it was time for me to move on.
Because working at an ice cream shop
Showed me I had what it takes all along.

from Rattle #69, Fall 2020
Tribute to Service Workers


Claire Donzelli: “The years I worked as a baker, sales associate, and bridal stylist taught me so much about myself and the many ways, big and small, we can have a positive impact on others. I went from being a shy sales associate who was scared to say hello to customers to having the top conversion rate and being able to handle three bridal styling appointments at once. I currently study songwriting at Berklee College of Music, where my songwriting and poetry continues to be influenced by journeys, self-discovery, and everyday situations.”

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