Daily Post Day 37: “The One Who Got Away”

Summer of 2008

I was a hot dog vendor (remember those days?).

I didn’t think too highly of my appearance at that point in time, because I was in the midst of weight-loss mission #2 (#3? I can’t recall now…).

Short-haired and not enjoying the heat coming in through the back of the hot dog stand. We had the shades on but that didn’t help. I was alone at the cart that day, standing in front of Juicy Couture close to Union Square (San Francisco).

He approached me in a clouded vision. I looked up and was face to face with a man I had never met before, but he was quite attractive to me. Tall, wavy brown hair, surfer-type. He spoke his words with a smirk as he uttered his order in a unique accent. A European?

We exchanged our sheepish smiles and then he walked off to wherever he was going. I figured I wouldn’t see him again. That cart rarely got return customers, and he looked like a tourist to me.

But then he showed up again the next day, again by surprise. Shy smiles exchanged once again. I remember gushing to a visiting friend that I hoped he was a local.

He visited the next day again, and he actually dropped me some tip money at the very end after we stared at each other intensely and smiled the same way.

Those moments brought my work mood up and I looked forward to seeing him again the following week.

Monday came, and no sign of him.

Tuesday came, and the same result.

He must have been a tourist after all.

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Note: In case you’re wondering, oh curious reader, no, I am not pining for this mystery man anymore. An amusing few days of our mostly-silent flirting, but it made for a good tale.

A Holiday Weekend of Reflection

(picture from July 2008)

Independence Day has become more toned down for me these days. Two years ago, when I still lived in my first apartment here, I was lucky to have a crowd-free view of the fireworks over Pier 39. That was when I worked at the hot dog stand, and I remember having to work with the crowds over that holiday weekend. We had a lot of out-of-towners, some polite and some not-so-polite. That was the last time I saw fireworks though.

These past two years, I’ve just spent the day as “just another day” for myself and my loved ones. Home-cooked meals, staying at home…just relaxing. I’ve grown tired of the huge celebrations here in San Francisco, mainly because the huge crowds just make me feel like a lone number, nobody special.

It’s good to be in a big city to have more opportunities for career, school, diversity, etc. I’ll admit that much. But becoming lost in a large crowd, becoming a number, is depressing to me.

On Independence Day, I found myself contemplating about my life throughout the years. The people I grew up with, the places I’ve traveled to and lived in, the people I’ve met along the way…and I continue to see how much change is coming upon the horizon. Settling down is not an option for me right now; there’s more out there for me than just what I have right now.

Last week, I read a blog post about how there’s no better time to focus on than right now. And it’s all been said before, but sometimes just reading someone else’s words reaffirms that thought. Why worry about the future? It’ll always be uncertain. Why fret about the past? It’s the past, it’s long gone, it’s static. Unchangeable. Focus on what’s going on right now. Seize the day.

I’m reminding myself about this every moment I get.

Rude customers, first thing in the morning.

First thing in the morning, I had some rather rude customers. All they wanted was a bottle of water, so I gave it to them, and as the guy was counting out change, I was trying to discourage him from using his pennies.

Me: “Sorry sir, we do not accept pennies.”
Guy: “I don’t, either.” *goes back to counting out the pennies*
Me: “Sorry, we do not accept pennies, I cannot take pennies from you.”
Guy: “But this is US Legal Tender!”
Me: “Sorry…can’t accept it.”

The guy becomes upset at this point and then looks through his wallet. Meanwhile, his wife was stupid enough to start drinking the water before he had even paid for the drink, which, if she hadn’t done so, would have saved us a lot of dumb drama.

I notice the guy has smaller bills in his wallet, but he decides he wants to be “smart” with me and pull out a $100.

Me: “Sorry, do you have anything smaller than that?”
Guy: “WHAT, are you being smart with me today?!”
Me: *becoming really annoyed* “I cannot accept such large bills for just a bottle of water, okay?”

Then, the guy decides he wants to threaten me.

Guy: “I’m going to report you to the Visitors’ Bureau, get you shut down for being so rude to tourists.”

Hmm…he wants to report to the Visitors’ Bureau that I wouldn’t accept a $100 bill from him for a $1.50 bottle of water.

Honestly, I do not see what caused for the guy to get so upset. I would understand a little more if he were becoming upset because I overcharged him or did something really shady, but really, all I asked was for no pennies (my managers do not like counting out pennies, considering all our prices are set at quarter increments anyway), and for no big bills (for purposes of avoiding counterfeiting). Perhaps I should have explained myself better, but most people would not put up such a fight about those two issues. They would just shrug, walk on, and move on with their life.

Hm, what a way to start off the day.

Customer Stories.

We seem to get the most interesting characters at the hot dog stand. People who think they’re funny, people who think they’re going to one-up us by threatening this or that (small threats, mind you).

Yesterday, after the whole homeless guy incident, we got this customer who seemed to be giving me and my co-worker “eyes” (checking us out). The guy orders a jumbo hot dog, and I serve it to him. Then, he complains about the fact that there’s this “strand of something” on his jumbo, and my co-worker and I notice that it’s just a piece of sauerkraut (pickled cabbage). So my co-worker just plainly states to the guy, “It’s just a piece of sauerkraut, it won’t kill you.” And the guy complains more, saying he wanted a different jumbo hot dog. Sigh.

I guess he thought we were being smart to him, because then he asked for our names and our manager’s contact information. My co-worker luckily was acting fast and just gave the guy our manager’s email address..really, come on, that’s ridiculous. You’re going to go complain to our manager about a piece of sauerkraut on your hot dog? I can understand a strand of hair…sure. But sauerkraut is EDIBLE. Gee whiz, the guy needs to get a life.

Today, I was giving breaks, and while I was at one of the “slower” carts, I was approached by this guy who was trying to be funny but failed miserably. All he wanted was a soda, which costs $1.50, so I told him the price. He began looking through his wallet, then he decided to pull out that joke. “I’ll give you $1.37…and a cigarette butt!” I didn’t laugh, didn’t do anything, just looked at him like he was nuts. Then he tried the joke again, this time with other objects (a piece of string, etc.). I still didn’t laugh, and he kind of gave up on the joke…but not before he said to me, “You have to admit that was pretty funny!”

Did you see me laughing? No. It wasn’t funny dude, sorry.

Homeless guy harasses two young hot dog vendors…

Today, had an interesting encounter at the hot dog stand.

So, there are quite a few homeless people who hang around Union Square. There’s this one guy, who wears a hat, a yellow and blue jacket, and he looks of Asian descent. He occasionally begs customers for a hot dog at our stands, and most times someone eventually buys him a hot dog. Today, he was approaching an Italian woman about buying him a hot dog, and my co-worker was just telling him (kindly yet bluntly) that he could not beg standing so closely to our customers. It is indeed a law/rule that people cannot beg/solicit so close to a business…anyway, the guy became super defensive against my co-worker, and an argument ensued. The whole time, I was standing behind the cart with the food, trying to monitor the food temperatures.

Next thing I knew, I heard a bag of chips fall from the rack and I thought the homeless guy had tried to steal a bag of chips, my co-worker yelled out “YOU MOTHERFXXXER!” and I heard the homeless guy run off.

Me: “Did he try to steal…?”
Co-worker: “No, he tried to, but he just smashed the bag of chips on the counter. Hmph.”

Meanwhile, we still had our Italian customer standing at the cart, a little spooked by the encounter, but nonetheless still ordering a hot dog and paying for her food. My co-worker then focused on the customer, but I noticed the homeless guy coming back to our stand and I felt a little scared as to what he was going to do next. I saw him approach the condiments section and then I heard a loud “SQUIRT”.

The Italian woman gasped and then turned to my co-worker, asking her if she had seen what had just happened. I went around to the front of the cart and saw that the guy had just made a mess with the mustard by squirting it all over the sidewalk. How….smart.

After that encounter, my co-worker and I stood behind the cart, ranting about how “lucky” the homeless are in the city. They have so many shelters they can go to for food, and so many tourists come by and feel sorry for the homeless so they are able to gain a lot of money through their begging. The weather stays temperate year-round here, so they never have to freeze to death. And what was the point of the guy for harassing us anyway? My co-worker was being as polite as she could towards him, but he took huge offense against us.

It’s not our problem that he’s homeless; it’s not like he can’t help his own situation.

Anyway…after that incident, my co-worker said that next time she’ll take a picture of the guy and report him to the police/security at Union Square. We’ll see what happens next.