Hot Dog Days My San Francisco Chronicles race rant Work Diaries

Ni hao, Hot Dog Vendor!

I find it rather offensive when non-Chinese people try to speak “Chinese” to me. Once, I had a customer walk up with his young son (!) and say to me “Ni Hao”. I looked at them with a glare, feeling offended first by his horrible accent, and second, by the fact that he even had the nerve to say such a thing to me. What if I weren’t Chinese? And why exactly was it necessary to “speak Chinese” to a girl working at a hot dog stand? I would be a little less offended and would understand if I were a server at a Chinese restaurant; but come on, a hot dog stand. From my accent, I’m sure the guy could tell I spoke perfectly fine English and that I didn’t need him to “impress” me with his “Chinese”.

Another time, I was giving another customer his drink and his change, and he said to me afterwards “Dou jie/Shi Shi Ni”, which means “Thank you” in Cantonese/Mandarin. I thought the guy was okay up until that point, but immediately I felt offended once again.

You know, I would feel “impressed” if I were in China and they were doing this to me. But I am in AMERICA. I know that many San Franciscans are actually Chinese, and a lot of them are immigrants from China, so they speak little English/more Cantonese/Mandarin. I can understand that–that’s why Chinatown seems so foreign of a place to outsiders since the majority of the businesses are run only in Cantonese.

But hello–it’s just really dumb and ignorant when guys like those (mentioned above) try to “speak Chinese” to someone who is obviously not an immigrant AND can speak English. I’m not dissing on my people in Chinatown, but really, what the hell. Next time someone tries to speak Chinese to me that way, they’re going to be in for a bad surprise.

funny Hot Dog Days My San Francisco Chronicles observation Work Diaries

"What does…’towed away’ mean?"

Yesterday during work, I realized I took an odd sense of amusement watching cars getting towed away behind me. Some people just don’t think to read the signs on the parking meters, stating “COMMERCIAL VEHICLES ONLY, 4am-6pm”. So some shmucks decide they would park there, only to later find either a ticket or their car towed away.

There were two cars parked illegally in those spots yesterday, and I was anticipating the tow trucks to arrive. And they did. Except, they only towed away one of the cars, which I found a little confusing. Still, I found myself standing there, feeling amused and slightly evil for finding amusement in someone else’s misery.

Oh, but it was a short-lived evil feeling. When I saw the owners of the towed-away car, they were Asian…worse, I think they were actually Japanese. One guy, a little meek yet cute looking, came up to me and asked, “Ah, excuse me, where did this…car…go?”

Me: “They towed it away.” (smile of pity)
Him: “Ah…what does…’towed away’ mean?”

This question made me feel even worse since he didn’t even comprehend the meaning of the phrase. So I had to think of a way to explain it so he could understand.

Me: “Well, it means…’they’ took your car away, because you are not allowed to park here. Only these (points at commercial vehicle behind me) are allowed to be parked here.”
Him: “Ah, okay.”

I’m not sure if he understood the situation at that point, but he ended up walking back to his two friends/colleagues and they in turn tried to figure out how to fix the situation.

Oh, I felt bad for them.

Hot Dog Days My San Francisco Chronicles

hint Representative in the neighborhood!

Hm, today while working the cart in front of Macy’s, a hint representative came up to the cart asking if my boss were in for the day. At first I was a little skeptical of the guy, but then I noticed his shirt–it said “Drink Hint!” and the slogan under it. We had a small conversation about the drink, and I mentioned to him about how I was not so keen on the cucumber flavor. I was just being honest; the guy said that the cucumber flavor was more for spas, which makes sense.

He left his name and number with me to pass along to my boss; I kind of want my boss to stock hint water at our carts, since I think that would be something new and interesting to people. Wonder how much we would charge though…

Hot Dog Days My San Francisco Chronicles question weather Work Diaries

Fog Rolls On In.

Well, the warm temperatures are gone from the city as of today: when I woke up, there was fog (typical of San Francisco), and the temperatures were chillier, around 50 degrees in the morning. The afternoon did not seem to change much, staying around upper 50s/lower 60s.

This type of weather seemed to keep the crowds in today since the carts were all very slow with business; I actually only worked 3 hours today since the second vendor had already come in at noon and we definitely did not need two vendors at the cart. We made measly tips as well.

This got me wondering: What is the “perfect hot dog weather”? When do people feel the most in the mood to eat a hot dog? The warmer temperatures did not seem to draw the crowds in, at least not to the hot dogs; people more so ordered drinks or the soft frozen lemonade. The cooler temperatures do not bring in the customers as much as we’d like, either. So I don’t understand–when is the best time (weather-wise) to have a hot dog?

Hot Dog Days My San Francisco Chronicles rant tourists Work Diaries

Chaos with the Cable Car

Today, for some reason, the Powell-Mason Cable Car line was not working, so that equaled crappy business for the hot dog cart. As a result as well, I got so many questions from frantic tourists who were wondering “Why or why were the cable cars not running?!” The MUNI Cable Car workers had a small sign up by the waiting area, but it was not noticeable enough. They kept their ticket booth open until 4pm, but that was that.

In many ways, they could have done more. Sure, perhaps these breakdowns happen frequently for them and they feel they do not need to answer tourists when tourists ask “Why is it not running?” But it’d help if they made the news more noticeable/public so people would not be left either standing there stupidly waiting for a nonexistent cable car to arrive or asking the same question over and over and over.

It became irritating near the end of the day; people wanted to know why it was not running, and you know what, I didn’t have the answer to that, and I probably never will since I do not even work with the cable car people. I feel like tourists assume that I gain this sort of information via osmosis, but sadly I have to burst their bubble on that idea.