As I write this, I am sitting on a Virgin Atlantic flight, bound for Maine. What? Oh yes, I know Eat Real is this weekend. Yes, I am leaving town when Suzanne is about to prep and sell 1,000 sandwiches. And yes, I am aware that we are doing this after only 3 weeks of road time. I am feeling really terrible about not being able to be there. But I am also confident that Suzanne, and the staff that she’s hired, will handle it brilliantly. I do want to give a huge shout out to Suz, who, despite never having done this before, has put together a plan to make it all work. Best.partner.ever.
Anyway, back to the flight. It’s appropriate that I am flying Virgin. Because this post is all about first times. Like the Eat Real festival, we have had so many first times in the last 3 weeks. And like other first times, ahem, there’s been some underwhelming disappointments, hilariously awkward bumbling, and some totally sweet moments.
Our first day open, we tried to park the truck on a busy street around 9:00. We decided to use my car to save a parking spot but of course, our truck is muuuuuuch longer than my car. So, when someone parks in front of me, there goes our space. I asked her if she would mind moving, and even though I think she did mind, she moved. And while she was moving her car, another car pulled into her spot. After that person also moved her car, we had to parallel park the truck. This went fine until we got a street sign (No Truck Parking, ironically) caught in our awning. No amount of pulling forward or backward would free it. Did you know a street sign will make a loud noise when it is gets stuck and then unstuck and then stuck and then unstuck? Neither did I. Apparently, neither did the people in the office, who were looking out the window at us. Did you also have any idea that a cemented-into-the-ground street sign will not move even a centimeter no matter how much you or a good samaritan pedestrian pull on it? I also didn’t know that street signs have different thicknesses. I think I know which thickness the City of Emeryville purchased. (Bloggers note: When searching for an image to use for the above anecdote, I searched under “stuck in the mud.” Countless images of scantily clad women with cars stuck up to their tires in the mud turned up. WTF? What is that all about?)
This was also the first time we were parking anywhere other than a parking lot. As you probably know, streets are contoured so that when it rains, the water runs into the gutters. This slight grade had a magical effect on our truck. The fridges wouldn’t stay closed, the steam table and cold prep table wouldn’t stay open, bread was sliding off the cutting board, our cookies migrated toward the front of the cookie sheet (and each other), and so many more fun surprises.
We had a great couple of opening days. And then….(cricket cricket). This was on the heels of our realization that we had no place to park on Thursdays in Emeryville. Never mind that it was only our third day and no one really knew who were. It was still anti-climactic.
Then there was the day we ran out of watercress but still had plenty of short ribs (and hungry customers). Since we were literally 2 blocks from our kitchen, I ran back to get more cress. In front of a bunch of guys waiting patiently for their sandwiches. Wearing cowboy boots and a shirt my daughter would object to as having too much, um, “seepage.” Oy.
Yesterday, I had an experience I can honestly say was a first in my 22 years as a vegetarian. I told Suzanne I would pull the pork (guffaw) and grabbed some tongs. She took one look at the tool in my hand (snicker) and told me there was too much meat and not enough time; I’d need to get my hands dirty (hee hee). I found that I am pretty good at pulling the pork though (and that joke will never ever get old).
Well, now I’ve devolved into adolescent humor and innuendo which is always a sign that it’s time for me to wrap things up. So, here it is, the sweetness: You – our customers. See, we knew our sandwiches were good and that people would respond positively but nothing prepared us for your energy, enthusiasm and encouragement. Or the afterglow of your reviews. That some of our customers are even reading our blog is, well, kind of shocking to me. One guy recently remarked that he knew Suzanne’s name because I use it all over the blog but he didn’t know mine ‘cuz I never introduce myself. While I thought of all of these snappy responses about how I like to be mysterious, keep a “no-strings” kind of attitude, the reality is this: I never expected anyone to read our blog, besides my mom and a handful of friends, and well, they already know my name. Having some of you call out the blog in your reviews? A definite first. I think I might cry now.