As the nation rushes to reopen—while health officials continue to warn that the threat of the virus is far from over—many small businesses are experiencing some pretty extreme road-bumps in their operations.
In Mashpee, Massachusetts Mark Lawrence has owned and operated the Polar Cave Ice Cream Parlour for 19 years.
On Friday, May 8, the shop finally re-opened after being temporarily shut down due to the pandemic.
I scream, you scream, BUT WE DONT SCREAM AT ICE CREAM EMPLOYEES DURING A PANDEMIC &especially not at Polar Cave jus… https://t.co/358Tatr8nj— Gabby Lucivero (@Gabby Lucivero)1589074027.0
The shop was immediately inundated with guests, resulting in long wait times.
The guests then became aggressive and several of them took their frustrations out on employees causing one teen to quit.
Lawrence told FOX25 Boston:
"One of my best workers quit yesterday at the end of her shift. But the words she was called and the language, you wouldn't even say in a men's locker room. And to say it to a 17-year-old kid, they should be ashamed of themselves."
The owner of this ice cream shop is a great man. Polar Cave is one of my favorite shops. You say “open up for smal… https://t.co/7JPOXTEjVA— Stephanie is: staying home (@Stephanie is: staying home)1589116050.0
He also said:
"People have forgotten how to treat other human beings in the six or seven weeks that they've been confined to their homes. They have no clue how to respect other human beings."
I hope this isn't a harbinger of things to come. Jarring to realize this happened at Polar Cave, my family's favori… https://t.co/JzLmKc2WsQ— Phyllis Fagell, LCPC (@Phyllis Fagell, LCPC)1589150784.0
As the parlour re-opened, Lawrence posted on social media that orders would have to be made an hour in advance.
Once the shop re-opened, however, many patrons either didn't see or chose not to follow the rules, resulting in chaos.
Following the disastrous re-opening day, Lawrence announced he would be re-closing the shop until a better system could be devised.
@washingtonpost I am so sorry to read this, particularly because Polar Cave is such an outstanding shop with incred… https://t.co/UunEf9TaNy— Paul Gundlach (@Paul Gundlach)1589158307.0
It is easy to focus on some things lost during this pandemic: wages, jobs, etc. But the 'intangibles' lost are the… https://t.co/Mdd6zJ9LvK— Jason Leigh (@Jason Leigh)1589151770.0
When @maher_kit and I went to Polar Cave during #BestOfMass Ice Cream, we gave Mark the Mr. Congeniality award - an… https://t.co/A2kqgDeIGj— Meredith Perri (@Meredith Perri)1589126628.0
After the story of the incident went viral, countless people reached out to Lawrence offering support.
A GoFundMe was even started to help pay the college tuition of the employee who was mistreated.
The shop re-opened in a limited fashion over the weekend, trying some new techniques and placing an even higher emphasis on call-ahead orders.
According to Lawrence, the situation has "vastly improved."
"We will continue to tweak our efforts and eventually try again to open full speed ahead. Thank you for the incredible outpouring of love and support from so many. It truly means so much to me at this time."
Polar Cave Ice Cream Parlour is just one example of a small business that is now trying to figure out how to reopen… https://t.co/sLn8dAF7Mn— Hina Alam (@Hina Alam)1589152300.0
Ugh this is so frustrating. Polar Cave has been my local go to ice cream spot at my parents’ house for years and no… https://t.co/LGfMNWoCju— Mike Daley (@Mike Daley)1589139887.0
As businesses start to return following a prolonged period of social distancing, let's all try to remember that manners matter even as we rush to restart our lives.