What The DelCo Chamber of Commerce President Learned By Working At Rita’s Water Ice
The year was 1994 and that Rita’s Water Ice had just opened. “I was 15 years old when I walked into Rita’s and asked if they were hiring,” recalls McFarland. She was hired immediately. “It was really cool to start when it first opened. I got to meet so many new people.”
The first Rita’s Water Ice was opened in 1984 by Philadelphia fire fighter Bob Tumolo. Rita was his wife, and they grew the business into a nationwide enterprise. There are now Ritas in more than 30 states.
In Drexel Hill, the opening of that Rita’s was a big deal. “The line was through the parking lot and about 100 people deep,” McFarland said. “People got cranky and upset if we didn’t have the flavor they waited for. The experience taught me how to manage expectations. I had to learn how to apologize and have people not get upset with me.”
Managing expectations isn’t easy, nor is dealing with unhappy customers. “Now, I am able to realize they must have had something else going on in their lives that had nothing to do with me,” she said. “But back then, I remember thinking, ‘Why are you taking this out on me? This isn’t my fault.’ It’s a good lesson that you can’t pick the people you serve. But you still have to do it to the best of your ability and try to figure out a situation in which everybody – or almost everybody – is happy.”
McFarland’s Rita’s experience also taught her how to work with different colleagues in the workplace. “I was able to make a whole new group of friends,” recalls McFarland, with a level of joy in her voice. “It was really nice to broaden my social circle, meet different people and learn to accept that people think differently. I was able to embrace and learn about different cultures.”
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