We just got a brand new food truck that we call Her Majesty. She’s all purple and gold and gloriously clean. Her Majesty is spacious on the inside and full of bells and whistles like a sound system with externally mounted speakers, a digital menu screen, and custom shelving above the driver’s seat designed to fit our bun racks.
Sometimes it’s good to remember where you’ve been.
I was reminded recently of an account I sent to my family several years ago when I was working on the old food truck – we now refer to him as Grumps – full time during the summer. It was a very hot summer, and I was commuting by bicycle to the food truck seven miles in the heat, driving the un-air-conditioned truck to its destination in the heat, working on the food truck which generated an astounding amount of heat, driving back to the parking lot in, you guessed it, the heat, washing all the dishes by hand, and then biking back home seven miles in the heat. I remember being so tired I thought I would die.
Later I would learn that my adrenal glands were completely shot and I had hypoadrenia (adrenal fatigue) plus a whole host of stress related hormonal depletions. Heck yes I did, and no wonder. In those days, it was anybody’s guess when the deep fryer might belch out a fireball that would singe off your eyebrows, or the propane tank would start to leak gas everywhere, or the breaker would trip and you’d have to use your intuition, a meat thermometer, and The Sniff Test to figure out how long products had sat in a closed but dysfunctional fridge, and then if they passed you had to haul pounds and pounds of franks and fries to a different fridge until your restaurant could bleed out enough cash to replace the initial fridge. It was not a job for the faint of adrenals, and I was a poor, fragile, adrenaline wracked soul who startled at the sound of an approaching customer and should have pursued a career in library science.
I can’t tell which will have the greater long term toll on my body, food service or parenting, because at the moment I’m too sleep deprived to make a complete assessment! But I think that surely they are both equally bad ideas, in terms of health and sanity, and yet for me have both had quite positive outcomes.
The good news is that rereading the story I’m about to tell you from several years ago made me so thankful for the way Franktuary has grown. Now we rarely ever send anyone out on the food truck alone, which is particularly beneficial when the deep fryer catches on fire. There’s an entire kitchen staff to help shop and prep, it’s not just Tim and I ceaselessly lifting huge tubs and cases of supplies in and out of our vehicles, and into and out of other vehicles. I set my own hours, and they no longer have to involve biking in the blazing heat unless I want them to. And I’m tired from waking up to feed a baby every few hours each night, but it’s nothing like the fatigue of that summer, and every time Bean turns to me with one of his 100-watt smiles, I’m hardly tired at all.
So, for your throwback reading pleasure, I present to you that anecdote from the summer of 2010.
Today at the end of a truck shift I caught my hand in the food truck’s spring-loaded awning as it was snapping up towards the roof.
I thought to myself, “Oh wow, I nearly got my hand stuck in this awning.” I tried to slide my fingers out which was excruciatingly painful and only tightened the retractable metal arm that nestles into a slightly larger metal trough. I thought, more slowly, “Oh wait, my hand IS stuck in this awning.” As I stood there, arm above my head, pointlessly flapping my left paw at the bars closed over my right fingers, I saw my life flash before my eyes, at least the piano playing part of it. I saw myself finishing this week’s band recordings with fewer fingers and three bandaged stubs. I wondered, oddly enough, if it would help me play with more classic rock’n’roll “feel”, having fewer fingers. Then I panicked.
Normally there is no one in the parking lot when I finish a shift, and I don’t keep my phone in my pocket because it could fall into the deep fryer.
Today there happened to be a group of middle school student volunteers in the parking lot. The poor young man that I politely addressed in my tiny voice – “Um, hello. Um, excuse me. Hey, can you help me? Canyouhelpmepleasemyhandisstuck!!!” – had absolutely no idea what to do. He did move a few feet closer to the truck to peer at me. Finally I suggested that he get someone else because I didn’t think he could pry apart the support bars by himself. He shuffled off and got an equally clueless youth to join him in gazing thoughtfully upon my predicament. At the end of my rope, I was finally forceful and articulate: “GET AN ADULT AUUUUUUUGH!!!!!”
An adult came from somewhere, duly instructed – “She needs help. There’s something wrong with her hand, or something” – and was confused, but then he got it and put his big muscles to work. He was able to pry apart the awning just wide enough for me to extract my hand. I stared at my freed fingers and then I cried, because I felt silly for panicking. He did not know what to do with me, so he suggested I go drink some water.
I went to go drink some water. I didn’t know what to do next, so I left the awning as it was and biked the 7 miles home. I stopped shaking around mile 6. Trevor met me at the front door to tell me that the fridge was broken and he was late for work.
It’s five summers later, my fingers are still intact, and we’ve got an incredible team of staff working in the heat on both of our trucks. I’m full of gratitude for them and for all the people who have purchased franks and poutine from us. Here’s to the past, and the future!