Hard at Work

Junior Vanessa Wasden explains what it’s like to work at a gelato shop during the pandemic


Wasden is in uniform at Paciugo Gelato. All employees are required to wear masks and gloves when serving customers. PHOTO COURTESY OF VANESSA WASDEN

In the mind of any teenager, a job at a local gelato shop sounds like a dream. But how does that change while the world is being rocked by an incredibly harsh pandemic?

For Vanessa Wasden, junior, working at Paciugo Gelato in Hermosa Beach has served as an outlet to distract herself from other pressures. 

“I think that this job has made me happier; it’s just such a nice break,” Wasden said. “It’s constant school, but then get to go have these interactions with all the customers, even if it isn’t the same as normal.”

However, Wasden says that there can be challenging aspects to her job that are caused by COVID-19.

Paciugo has a current store policy that doesn’t allow customers to sample their gelatos or sorbets. This decision was made to block prolonged exposure to the customers or the employees, hoping to prevent further opportunities for the virus to spread.

“That’s been the biggest challenge for our store, by far. As soon as some customers hear they can’t sample something before they order it, they get frustrated and just walk out,” Wasden said.

Wasden encounters people that come in without masks, but she says it doesn’t feel too endangering.

“I honestly feel really safe standing behind the case. We’re wiping everything down, changing our gloves before we treat a new customer, and it’s worked,” Wasden said. “We haven’t had any possible scares with any of our workers.”

Balancing school and work has been “tricky” for Wasden, but that isn’t reflected in her grades. 

“I feel that I’ve done a good job managing my schoolwork, and I only have a single B right now,” Wasden said. “My boss at Paciugo lets me work when things get quiet, and it’s cold out so it’s mostly quiet.”

Many people are faced with unemployment and unsafe working conditions during the pandemic, but Wasden appreciates her current situation.

“A lot of the time, I’m the one who locks up the store. Being able to be there at the end of the day, and to watch the sunset, it’s just so amazing.”