Pilgrimage Down The Block: A Street Food Short

October 12, 2011


This story pre-dates me having a car – for, if I did, we certainly would not have ended up on the side of the road or, moments later, in the back of a Cadillac Escalade. You see, it was the Divisadero Art Walk and Valerie and I had decided to set up outside The Independent to sell Banh Xeo (vietnamese crepes) and Pho Ga (Chicken Pho) to comers and goers, smokers and scalpers.

(Photo by Phil Carter)

After booking a Zipcar, hustling out for groceries, and packing our Mazda to the brim with portable stoves and little red stools, we were on our way to the show.

Our fatal mistake came an hour and a half into our Zipcar rental when it expired. Amidst loading coolers of chicken stock and securing quarts of pancake batter, we were drained of time. Back at the Zipcar lot we made an attempt to rent another car so we could get to our destination, unload, and set up. Of the eleven Zipcars housed in the Fell and Divisadero gas station, not a single vehicle was available. None. What was worse, we only had two minutes to vacate our car. With no safe place to stow our gear, we stashed it in the bed of somebody else's unclaimed Zipcar pick up truck.

I should probably mention that The Independent is a total of five blocks from our respective houses, and two blocks from the Zipcar lot. However, when you have a six ft table, two coolers, four stoves, two stock pots, and a trail of little red stools those two blocks are unsurmountable.

Of the options we reviewed, my favorites were: setting up in the Zipcar lot under the gas station sign (excellent lighting), serving out of the back the pick-up truck (whose renter still had not shown up to claim his car), and getting Ubercab to take us and all our shit two blocks to our destination (in their town car). Hailing a cab proved futile as it was rush hour in a city with no cabs. And we were on the wrong side of the street for Muni.

Valerie, I think we're gonna have to bum a ride.” I was half joking, half desperate.

I had bummed rides before, but only in Asia (and Mexico). Here, on my home turf, I was pessimistic. Have you ever hitchhiked in San Francisco before? So close to upper Haight, I was worried people might get the wrong idea about me. Who gives rides to two girls and their kitchen in San Francisco?!

Not surprisingly, Valerie found the answer.

Turning her eye towards the cars filling up at the gas station, she approached the biggest load-bearing one she could find: a Cadillac Escalade pick up truck. You'll have to ask her what was said between them, but 40 seconds later Valerie had convinced the young couple to give us and our kitchen a ride down the street.

I was utterly floored by their generosity and kindness. The wife, I assume (I'm embarrassed to say that I don't remember her name), helped us to load everything into the back of the truck, even rearranging her stuff to accommodate ours. She did not bat an eyelash when there was a little spill in the bed of the car (“I've got rags!” Valerie hollered). Who were these people? Sitting in the back of their car I wondered, into what world of San Francisco did I just stumble?

I couldn't understand it. These were the type of people who had white leather interiors, mini bottles of water, and scented wet wipes. What the hell were they doing giving two girls and their stock pots a ride?

Throughout my travels in Asia, I have always wished that I could experience the same sense of discovery I feel abroad, here at home. Stranded, five blocks from my house, I climbed into the gigantic car and navigated through tinted winows.

Needless to say we arrived in style.

1 comment:

Betty said...

Great story! Thanks for sharing

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