I often share general stories and fables with my millennial clients to bring home an idea that might be a little foreign to them but when it comes to giving selflessly, I often end up sharing a personal story that had a profound impact on my life.
So here I am in 1976 at the customs check-in at Philadelphia International Airport. My "special package" goes through the x-ray machine and I see the lady leap to attention, do a double take at the screen and exclaim to the guard on duty "Sidney, we got one here!" Sydney lifts out of his chair, his blue uniform straightening out from the weight of his gun belt, as his eyes open wide and he says "Ice cream?"
"Not just any ice cream", I exclaim, "Haasen Fraas chocolate chocolate chip ice cream".
The guard, looking like someone from a Frank Capra film saying wistfully: "Ohhhh, Haasen Fraas chocolate chocolate chip ice cream!"
The lady at the screen raises one eyebrow and asks; "What is Haasen Fraas ice cream?"
"You mean", I exclaimed, "you haven't heard of a Haasen Fraas ice cream and you live in Philadelphia?
(I fully expected at this point for her to take out her gun and cold cock me but I was enjoying the weirdness of this airport security check conversation too much to stop now).
I was coming from the icy north. Yes, that frozen tundra known as Montréal, Québec. (That's in Canada, eh?)
The one thing we have in great supply in our arctic home besides snow was ice cream. Really, really crappy ice cream. The best we had was something called "Heavenly Hash", which was neither heavenly nor mind altering. The name gave us a little chuckle when we ordered it but that did not make up for the suffering our taste buds had to endure.
The previous year I had gone to see a Guru; Bawa Muhaiyaddeen in Philadelphia. It was an amazing experience and as I was leaving for home, someone told me that I had to go to this shop along the way to try the most incredible ice cream. It was heavenly and it was mind altering in the way that only extreme fat, sugar and dairy can be.
A year later I decided to go again and I promised myself to bring back a giant tub of Haasen Fraas chocolate chocolate chip ice cream.
My last day there, I bought the ice cream tub, brought it to the Ashram and went off to the airport. We went through security (you know what happened there) and I spotted a small cafeteria. They must have a freezer, right? Wrong. No freezer, but the lady was kind enough to let me keep the tub of ice cream in her fridge.
An hour goes by. Two hours go by and the plane is late boarding. The frigging ice cream is melting. I'm getting a bit nervous until I notice that I can see the plane from the window and it's sitting there in the January snow! I rush to the ticket counter with my slowly melting bucket and explain the Haasen Fraas journey to the lady. I ask her if I can leave the ice cream in the snow near the plane until we board and she says: "If you like, we can bring the ice cream in now, pack it in ice and it will keep perfectly kept in the galley until we reach Montreal". I happily agreed and was able to relax, knowing that my Haasen Fraas wouldn't melt. There's nothing worse than a melted Haasen Fraas.
We board the plan and I sat in the row just behind the bulkhead. One of the stewardesses noticed me looking at this very pretty woman around my age sitting alone in the bulkhead seat. The stewardess came up to me and said "Isn't she a pretty lady". A little thrown off I said: "Yes, she is pretty".
"Wouldn't you like to talk to her?" the stewardess asked me. (pinch me I'm dreaming, right?) "I would like to talk to her but she seems a little shy". I said.
The stewardess turned to the young lady and said: "Honey, why don't you go sit down with the nice young man and talk to him". It was her mom, of course.
Wow! Does this stuff really ever happen?
Flying back home from an awesome trip, set up by a stewardess with her daughter and... wait for it... after a nice 20 minute discussion about herself and myself, I asked her the question...
"Sho, tell me:, I said in my best James Bond voice, "Do you like aysh cream"?
"Sure, she said. I love ice cream".
"Would you like some now?"
"But we're about to take off! We can't possibly get ice cream now."
"Never say never" I said.
I called over mum.
"Do you have that package in ice in the galley with the name "Ken Rabow" on it?"
The stewardess said that she does.
"It's Haasen Fraas chocolate chocolate chip ice cream. Why don't you break it open. Give some to your daughter, take some for yourself and I wouldn't mind a scoop as well." (Take that Sean Connery!)
Mum asked me if it would be ok to offer some to the other stewardess. I said "sure".
(really, what are the chances of being able to offer premium ice cream for all on an inbound plane flight).
We all partook in the creamy goodness that was this premium ice cream but I felt like for me the greatest pleasure was being able to offer it to to these people in such an weird circumstance. The other stewardess came up to me later on and said "You know, I had heard of Haasen Fraas ice cream and I'm not sure if I am going to love you or hate you for the rest of my life for sharing it".
By the time I got into Montreal on a freezing cold January night, I realized it was too late to go by my mom's place. I was living in a office with a used coke machine as a fridge (the sacrifices we make to practice drums). I figure, it's January. Its freezing out. I'll just leave the ice cream in the van and when I get up, I'll go over to my Mom's house and have this tub o' heaven for the following month waiting for me in her nice deep freezer.
I woke up to a freak winter thaw of 40 degree Fahrenheit. I went down to see that my Haasen Fraas had ceased to be. It had expired and gone of to meet its creamy maker. Bereft of ice creamy goodness. This was an ex-ice cream.
So, I'm guessing a lot of you are thinking right now: "Damn, Ken... crappy story. Sad ending. I don't like sad endings. Why, Ken, WHY?"
Here's the point:
I was meant to give that ice cream to those people. To have all the people in the airport help me out on my odd quest and it would not possibly have been as sweet, if the ice cream had survived.
So what did I learn? If I had kept it all for myself I would have had nothing.
Follow your quests, never give up, ask for aid from caring people along the way and remember to share and your journey will be as rich and sweet as Haasen Fraas chocolate chocolate chip ice cream.
Oh, and keep your ice cream in a freezer even if you have to wake up your mom up at midnight to do it.
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