If your situation ever dictates that you need to find work, any work, just to put a roof over your head, you can do a lot worse than working in a food truck at festivals. I did that this summer — long days, hard graft, minimum wage.
Still, you can learn so much.
1. People really are amazing. It actually restores your faith. I get that it’s a food truck, and not a swanky restaurant, and it’s at a festival, but seriously — people sometimes wait 30 minutes to order and then 30 minutes for their order to be served. And they smile and crack jokes and say please and say thank you and just generally look happy all the way. Over the whole summer, I served only two cross people.
2. The camaraderie of the street food worker is to be experienced to be believed. Nearly every weekend, I worked with a new team — everyone got on with everyone the whole time. We were hot in our truck, sweaty, tired, and standing up for hours at a time. Your brain gets frazzled and after ten hours you can’t even add up or read the orders properly. But there was never a cross word. As for any mistakes — everyone ‘fesses up to their own mistakes — “honestly, that was my fault”… “no really, I didn’t get that right”… “Oops, my mistake.” You would never ever blame your co-worker. It’s a certain generosity of spirit.
3. You might have previously worked in mega blue chip companies with pretty awesome people but you will rarely know teamwork like this. Obviously the stakes are lower — pretty much the worst thing that happened during my summer in the van was that we ran out of ketchup one day — and sure, we didn’t miss the media deadline for a multi million dollar global advertising campaign, and brain surgery we were definitely not involved with, but the altruism truly knew no bounds. It’s bloody good for the soul.
4. The joyous world of bartering. OMG! The truly joyous world of bartering. I worked in a fish and chip truck — we all just loved it when another trader came to ours. Swapsies! Pizza, curry, beef burgers, ice cream, coffee, beer and wine traders’ swapsies. And when the tables were turned, you have to learn to dare. You have to wear your apron outside the van, into the big wide world of the festival. Prove you’re a trader. Flash the trader’s wrist-band. Barter your fish and chips — and then come back to your van with the goodies for the team.
5. You absolutely learn to love the monotony of food preparation. Crave it, even. Every van has their prep area out back. Slowly and steadily chopping fish fillets into pieces for goujons is better than therapy. If there are two of you, you will swap life stories in less than five fillets. You will give a piece of your heart to that prep buddy for life. You will undoubtedly have something amazing in common — a reason for meeting and being put out back together prepping, a reason for being in each other’s lives, if only for a day.