Tales from food trucking

My sister says I should be writing about food trucking, which sounds like the opening line to the weirdest diary-style YA novel ever written. Here’s some thoughts.


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I work on three trucks right now: the pie truck, and two sandwich/burger trucks that sell at Boeing. On the sandwich trucks, I cook a little, but mostly I run the window, taking orders and money, delivering food.

At both sandwich trucks, I ask customers for their names so I can call out their orders when they’re ready. I make a somewhat concerted effort to learn the names of my regulars at the different trucks; it just seems like a nice thing to do, a welcoming, friendly, where-everybody-knows-your-name kind of thing. I’ve probably managed to learn thirty names and faces, but there’s another forty or so faces that I recognize but can’t put names too.

It’s easier to remember names that aren’t European, or are attached to non-white faces. Selam and Salim I learned quickly. Unusual names in general stick out, like Slim or Stokes or Ramses or Desi. People with custom orders stick out, too, like Susan or Patricia or May.

The real problem is the short, common men’s names. If your name is Joe or Scott or Steve, Jeff or Greg or Dan, I almost certainly can’t remember your name. There are multiples of all these names coming to the trucks every day, and generally speaking I’ve managed to associate one face with any given name, and that’s it. I know one Scott; the others are all “you’re that guy who was here yesterday.” Plus, weirdly, it’s hard for me to remember names if regulars from one truck come to one of the other trucks. It’s like how walking through a door resets your brain.

I guess the takeaway point here is, if you’re a regular somewhere and want the staff to remember your name, try giving something unusual: a nickname, or surname. And if we can’t remember your name, please don’t take it personally. We do remember you — and we’re just delighted you’ve come back again.


The other day I was describing my summer schedule to my friends Piper and Lasheena, and Lasheena asked “so you’re working six to seven days a week … how does that work with having a personal life?” And I kind of stared at her blankly for way too long and then said that I make it work, one way or another. Which is true!

But I also get a weird charge from interacting with people, especially my regulars. I’ve had conversations twice with regulars today about the horror convention I’m going to this weekend, extended ones about what horror movies we like and who I hope to meet. I don’t think these guys even know my name, they just know I serve them food four out of five days a week. But those interactions do a lot to recharge my extrovert batteries and satisfy the human need for interaction.

Although having some personal life is nice too.


This weekend, after more than a year in our current kitchen, we’re moving! Today was the last time I should ever be at that kitchen. Leaving tonight was like some odd rendition of Good Night Moon.

Good night to this kitchen
Where we did our baking
Good night to the alley
Where I spent so long waiting

Good night to the walk-in
I’m afraid this is it
Good night plastic flaps
That were covered in … gunk

Good night to the back lot
And your dumpsters and stenches
Good night to the crows —
Opportunistic mensches

Good night to the padlocks
Good night to the gate
That I loathe dealing with
When it’s cold and it’s late

Good night to the flag
That’s as big as the block
Be it red, white and blue
Or supporting the ‘Hawks

Good night to you, potholes
I hit in the dark
Good night, too, Safe Access
And so long, Skylark

Good night to you, bridge,
Where the cops lie in wait
For speeders or drunks
Or expired license plates

Good night to the shoe
Lying lost on the verge
Good night to the backup
Of cars waiting to merge

Good night to the route
Down to Fourth and Spokane
To avoid that damn merge lane
And its rush hour jam

And so long to Rainier’s R
Shining red in the night
I’ll see you again,
But to Delridge — good night.

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2 thoughts on “Tales from food trucking

  1. I completely get that with regulars and how good it is to just interact. That was one of my favorite parts of being a reference librarian at the same time in the same library and being a school librarian, getting to know people. I’ve never been good at names, though I try too.

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