Be my friend: I’ll make you fat

April 21, 2016 — by Helen Chen

Senior shares experience working at Popbar.

Let me begin by saying that it is not my intention to make anyone fat; it’s just a side effect of what I do.

Near the beginning of March, after the reality of going to an expensive college finally hit me, I decided it was necessary to find a job. A few applications and a short interview later, I found myself wearing a brown hat, shirt and apron behind a display of gelatos and sorbettos at Popbar, a store selling customizable ice cream on a stick.

Although my initial goal was somewhere between contributing to college funds and learning to deal with people, I soon realized that working two weeks at San Jose’s minimum wage of $10.30/hour pays exactly 0.104 percent of my total college tuition.

Even so, that isn’t to say that the job lacks perks, and here begins the story of how I’m managing to slowly make all my friends gain weight.

As an employee, I get one free bar per shift in addition to all the ones I break or mess up, as well as an unlimited supply of white chocolate and hazelnuts used to refill toppings. As someone who doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth, I satisfy my sugar craving more than enough with half of a broken peach bar and a couple pieces of chocolate, leaving me with a bar at the end of every shift.

At first, I had a reason behind each of my midnight deliveries. By giving away the bars, I hoped to ease the pain of college rejections and upcoming tests. But beyond giving me something to look forward to at the end of work, my unexpected visits have since expanded to something much more.

The “rules” I have created for my post-work excursions are quite simple: pick some friends who have been a bit absent in my life, ask them at most a few hours before I go (bonus points for showing up completely uninvited) and finally surprise each of them with a different flavor bar of my choosing.

The last part of the rules I have set for myself, though seemingly insignificant, is actually the most important. Each flavor of bar that I have delivered is now associated with a specific person and a specific memory.

Strawberry is my incompetence with video games, jokes made at each other’s expense and an appreciation for the simplicity of a stress-free hour and a half.

Pistachio has become a 2-hour catch-up session with one of my favorite juniors, the beginning of spring break and a reminder to put time into the friendships I value most.

Blood Orange is standing in the freezing cold, a food run to McDonalds and a realization that the most genuine conversations are often the least expected.

Although I know the way to whoever’s house I’m going, the direction in which each of my visits take once I arrive is unpredictable. It is this spontaneity, often resulting in good conversations and memories that I cherish so much as the year comes to a close.

And so, if you ever get a text from me at an unexpected hour, you can probably expect me to show up, Popbar in hand, ready to talk and laugh or simply check-in. Feed me with conversations and attention, and I’ll feed you with food.