Working Up an Appetite

Part I

WP: Are you the owner?

Art: No. I'm just a part-time worker. When somebody's out sick, or they're looking for new stops and everything, they bring me in to do a little soliciting.

WP: So what do you have that's good today?

Art: Just about everything. Our daily menu changes, depending on what the specialty is. Today we have chicken cacciatore over noodles, we have Spanish rice with a spicy sauce, a hamburger sauce, then we have a beef teriyaki over rice, we always have chicken wings, Spanish rice with black beans and —

WP: What are those?

Art: Those are empañadas. They're a Mexican food filled with hamburger, spicy hamburger.

WP: And what's that?

Art: Hotdogs.

WP: Hotdogs.

Art: These are gorditas up there.

WP: Gorditas.

Art: Very good, popular seller.

WP: What's the most popular thing you have?

Art: The most popular. ... Now, I've got to say, we're leaning towards dishes that are more Spanish, Hispanic flavor because we're getting more of them into the work force.

WP: More Hispanics?

Art: More Hispanics. So like gorditas, empañadas, burritos. We have hot sandwiches.

WP: Does the metal (the truck is metal) help keep things hot?

Art: Yeah. And this is all heated by propane.

WP: You don't use propane fuel in the gas tanks, do you?

Art: Only for the cooking.

WP: Regular unleaded?

Art: Yeah, regular unleaded gas, I think. (Walks around side) And then on this side, we have all the cold stuff. Chips, cup of noodles, Pringles, all kinds of cookies, pastries of all kinds.

WP: Does the metal help keep things cold?

Art: Yeah. See, you've got the ice coming up from there, generates it. We have all kinds of sodas, drinks of every kind.

WP: Do you ever get strange requests for different food?

Art: No. Pretty much what we have, they'll go for.

Part II

Customer: How much is it?

Art: Normally, $2.25. For you, babe, $2.

Customer: Oh, really? Whooo! I guess that makes it the morning special.

Art: Yeah, we need a good-looking customer once in a while.

Part III

WP: (knocking on open metal door overhead) Have people ever clocked their heads on here?

Art: Um — no.

WP: I guess it wouldn't matter if they have hard-hats.

Art: Most of them have hard-hats. I'm probably — I'm the biggest one that's did it. I did it more times than anybody else.

WP: How many times?

Art: Oh, gosh, I don't know. (Laughs) I knocked myself out one time.

WP: You knocked yourself out?

Art: In California one time — see, I retired and came down here to be with my grandkids, and they found out that I used to do this, so they call me up whenever they need help.

WP: So you're like the old pro at it.

Art: Yeah, I guess. 30 years experience at it. I'm actually a banker. I went to banking school and everything, and I just didn't think that that was what I wanted in life, and friends of mine were in this, and I've enjoyed it.

WP: How old are you?

Art: 65.

WP: 65.

Art: Yep.

Part IV

WP: Can you make a pretty good living doing this?

Art: A person who wants to do this, yes, would make a decent living, provided you gonna hustle. You gotta get out and get the business and everything.

WP: So talking to a reporter isn't gonna make you rich.

Art: Yeah, you gotta hustle. When I see a strip loader digging a hole, I stop right away, give 'em my card, just ask 'em what's going on.

WP: Have you ever had a fender bender?

Art: (Raps twice on skull.) Knock on wood, no. I had one little, tiny scrape. The worst thing that I've done is drive off with the doors open, hit a telephone pole, rip the doors off, you know, had a $1,000 replacement. That doesn't help on things.

WP: Ever have trouble with shoplifters?

Art: Yes.

WP: You'll be on one side of the truck, and they're over there —

Art: That's a problem, especially at construction sites. You'll get a lot of that.

WP: And then they eat the evidence.

Art: Yeah, exactly. We've been very fortunate; no one's ever been robbed. Of course, I shouldn't say that; someone will say, "Oh, that's a good idea."

WP: Where are you going now?

Art: Now I'm going over to the courthouse they're building.

WP: Downtown?

Art: Yes.

WP: Watch out for the lawyers.

Art: Yeah, right. Right.

Contact David Jasper at 813-248-8888, ext. 111, or [email protected].

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