My first ever job was a terrible one. I spent 8 hours every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday making smoothies - lots of smoothies. I was yelled at when drinks were incorrect and I cleaned blenders so often that the method how is engrained in my mind forever, but I was 16 and all I wanted to do was make enough money to put gas in my hand-me-down car and buy the cutest new jeans from Aeropostale. I learned a lot of life lessons working there, and at other places since as well.
Since I’ve moved on from that little cafe, I have held four other jobs. I’ve been a cashier at both Kmart and Sears (not as bad as smoothies, but still bad), a sales worker at Bath & Body Works (fun, but turns out I was allergic to an ingredient in their hand soaps - whoops!), and a seasonal lifeguard at a large water park (don’t even ask - just don’t. That’s a story for another article). None of those measure up to working at an ice rink.
Ask me on a good day (which are most days), and I will tell you that I absolutely adore my job. My hours are flexible, it’s not a strict environment to work in, and I get to stand around and watch hockey all day (okay, not ALL day, but still). I get to host birthday parties, and I’m involved in a lot of great promotional events and activities that help hockey grow within our community and raise awareness for the great educational programs that our rinks offer. My job has taught me how to skate, how to play, and the ins and outs as to how a rink operates at most capacities, including at a front desk position and ice maintenance.
However, I have my bad days at work too. Everyone does. I’ve been on the receiving end of some incredibly colorful, constructive comments, and I’ve had my fair share of on-ice disasters. As a staff member, it’s my duty to accept the issue at hand, resolve it while making sure the customer is satisfied, and move on without further comment. It’s the moving on without further comment that I sometimes struggle with. When you’re shaken up in a situation or you’re incredibly frustrated, it can be difficult to keep your snide or sarcastic comments to yourself. Thankfully, some of my job frustrations are taken out on Twitter in the form of a hashtag, #RinkProblems (or the handle directly @RinkProblems), and it’s simply saying what we all wish we could. Here are some of the best - and most relatable.
This problem might be one that’s more for us rink workers, but it’s a lesson that a lot of people need to learn. 1: High schoolers and anyone under 18 years of age have to wear full protective face gear, such as a cage - visors don’t count. I know they aren’t pretty and I know they’re sometimes hard to see through, but breaking your jaw or losing some teeth isn’t really worth it; and 2: If you aren’t 14-17, or whatever age the ice time is designated for, don’t be on the ice! It’s a possible liability for the rink you’re at, and it could potentially cause a lot of problems if injuries or issues occur. If you’re coaching a private lesson, check with the rink staff as to what the specific rink rules are. Don’t assume that anything goes, because it probably doesn’t. The rules are there for your safety and others’.
I don’t coach any team, so I’ll start out by saying that I have no knowledge as to what goes into coaching a hockey team. I have, however, coached other sports teams in the past, and I do know that there is more to coaching than just having the title of “coach” or cool clothes or control over others. Coaching takes dedication and knowledge of the sport, and not everyone can do it. The phrase “those who can’t, coach” is completely wrong. I’ve seen coaches in my rink who are completely involved in the team, supporting the players no matter what, through bad practices and good games, and I admire the time and effort that they put into the team and to making these kids’ dreams come true. Many coaches spend hours of time off-ice preparing drills for practices and plays for games. If you’re in a coaching position, take it seriously. Players are looking up to you, and they want to see more than just someone who wants to wear snazzy clothes and blow a whistle. Show them someone who loves the sport and wants to teach that love to others. Additionally, if you’re in a figure skating coaching/teaching position - take it seriously as well. You’re helping these kids (or adults) with skills that they could develop into something great. Teach them with the same care and patience that someone once taught you with.
Everyone has had this moment. You’re sitting in the stands, waiting for the game to start, when you see the referees take the ice, and you notice they are easily the worst refs in the city, or in the league. They’re the ones that call every penalty wrong or don’t call any penalties at all, and you just know that you’re in for an interesting game. For the adult league at my rink, we have a normal round of refs that come to call the game, and I can always tell when the night is going to run long because of Sadly, there’s no way around this problem. Just play your best and have a good 60 minutes on the ice. If you’re not playing and you have to watch the travesty that is a poorly-called game, try not to get too upset with the refs. No one likes that fan that’s constantly screaming and swearing (at the refs or the players or other parents). They’re just doing their job (albeit sometimes very poorly). Channel your inner Jonathan Toews, swear about the call to yourself (his in-game comments are quite hilarious sometimes), and move on.
My very own favorite #rinkproblem! I work our concession stand very frequently, and hot chocolate is always a topic of hot debate (hot, get it? It’s a pun). We’ve been threatened to be sued, had drinks thrown on the floor in anger, and blatant demands for refunds because the hot cocoa was “too hot.” Hot chocolate is hot because hot water is required to melt the sugar that the powder mix is made of. You ordered hot chocolate, that’s what you’re going to get. Ask for ice cubes if you can’t handle the heat. If not, burn your tongue on the first sip like the rest of us and get over it. (The only exception I make for this is small children. I always make sure theirs is cool enough to drink before I serve it. A happy kid makes for a peaceful rink.)
Next time you’re at the rink, take a look at the visiting teams and the house teams. You’ll notice a difference. Without fail, travel teams during a tournament always know where to look for locker room assignments, and they leave locker rooms cleaner than they originally found them. I am constantly surprised and enamored with travel teams and the way the conduct themselves at a rink they are visiting. As a fan, take an example from the team and conduct yourself in the same way. Make the rink staff want to welcome you back instead of rolling their eyes when they see you’re scheduled to play there. As for you home team players- you don’t own the rink, so don’t act like it. Be confident in your on-ice abilities, but not so cocky in everyone else’s faces. Behave yourselves, that’s all we ask.
#RinkProblems exist for everyone - fans, staff, and even referees and players. What are yours? Or maybe you have some #RinkReliefs - things at the rink that make you smile instead of roll your eyes. Let us know in the comments below!