What I’ve learned driving the Atlanta Ice Cream Truck for 11 years

Reshelia Cook knows what her customers want, and it isn’t basil, lemongrass, or sea salt
Atlanta Ice Cream Truck
Photograph by Heidi Geldhauser

The siren song—sounding like a tired jack-in-the-box that refuses to pop out—calls to the boy and his little sister. Clutching dollar bills, they run to its source: the Atlanta Ice Cream Truck. Behind the wheel is Reshelia Cook. For 11 years she’s been driving a truck (a van, really) all over Gwinnett, DeKalb, Fayette, Coweta, and Fulton counties. So she knows what her customers want, and it isn’t basil, lemongrass, or sea salt. The elderly woman wants a cup of plain ice cream. The man in camo can’t get enough of the chocolate-covered ice cream with the vanilla center. The boy always gets the sour blue rasp­berry—except today. Today he’s mixing it up and going for cotton candy.

What she’s learned after 11 years behind the wheel

1. I didn’t think I’d be good at this when I started, but I am. I think that’s because I get to know the kids. I have seen a lot of them grow up and go away to college.

2. If they get a good report card, I give them free ice cream. I love to see them waving that report card for me to stop.

3. The kids know I will tell their momma or their daddy if I see them doing something they shouldn’t be.

4. Different parts of Atlanta respond to different jingles. Areas south of Atlanta like what I call the “Hello” song. Gwinnett County likes “Frère Jacques”; Winder, “London Bridge Is Falling Down.” I used to hear the jingles in my sleep.

5. I’ve been pulled over on the expressway by customers.

6. It took people awhile to understand that, yes, women do drive ice cream trucks.

7. When my kids were little, they used to be embarrassed by what I do. But then they learned that’s what paid for them to go to prom.

8. I am getting married in August. I met my partner when I trained her to drive an ice cream truck. We are having an ice cream truck at our reception. We thought it was fitting.

This article originally appeared in our June 2016 issue.