Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Summer Afternoon…In a Freezer Truck?

By Jaime Wilson, Web Development & Fundraising Coordinator

One hot afternoon each July, you will see a peculiar sight at the zoo. Two short women walking through the zoo dressed head-to-toe in polar fleece, complete with scarves, hats, snow gloves and a check list.

Crowbar. Check.
Pencil (not a pen that easily freezes). Check.
Lip Balm. Check.
Inventory List. Check

Zoo visitors, dressed in shorts and tank tops, sipping iced drinks and fanning themselves in the sweltering heat, stop and stare. The two women climb onto a loading ramp, flip a switch, ride up to the door and disappear into the giant Baskin Robbins ice cream truck. The visitors wait, but no one comes back out. Shrugging their shoulders, they go about the rest of their day.

What are they doing? Well, I can tell you! The Zoo’s Development Coordinator and Web Development Coordinator are sorting all of the ice cream for our 23rd Annual Ice Cream Safari. The truck is delivered with almost 275 3-gallon containers of ice cream, loaded on big metal rolling carts. With 15 flavors, you can imagine how hard it is to find what you are looking for. So, we pry off the cross-bars that keep the metal carts in place, roll them all out (without squishing one of us) so we can get to the ice cream and begin.

And don’t forget, this is a FREEZER truck.

As our hair and scarves start to freeze with the condensation of our breath, we attack the first cart and sort the cartons. Chocolate there. Sherbets on top. Mint-chip at the end. (the ice cream slides quite well on the frozen metal flooring). Do you think this whole cart is all Vanilla? No, there are 30 on there, and we’re only supposed to have 27 vanilla. Just as we unload the last carton, and reload it to another cart, we find the pesky 3 Heath Bar Crunch at the bottom. Isn’t that always the way!

After 30 minutes of work, our lips are feeling frost-bitten, the generator has kicked into high gear and it’s actually snowing on us, and we look like winter-wonderland elves with ice-crusted gloves and rosy cheeks.

We emerge onto the loading platform and I lose all sight, because my glasses have fogged up. Lisa looks at me and starts laughing. Smiling, we descend, gratefully basking in the warmth, as our clothes become soggy with melted ice. After six years of doing this, we have a system and we have finished in record time!

As we change back into our summer clothes we consult our list. All ice cream accounted for! As for us…it’s just another day at the Zoo.