Day 774 – Learning Opportunity

Alex and Jackie

Bing Mi Food Cart

I have now completed three days working at my neighbor’s downtown Portland food cart. It is the second job I’ve often thought about but never expected the opportunity to present itself. The first was driving commercially which took the form of my stint with TriMet. Yes, I’ve now wet my feet in two quintessential Portland job situations.

TriMet was an excellent learning opportunity (and a very good job for the right type of person) and I’m still proud to say I made it through probation and received my full operator certificate. TriMet training was very intense, but it pales in comparison to the past three days at the cart.

Like my sailboat experience, here’s a smattering, in no particular order, of what I’ve come to learn thus far:

  1. The reality of working in a food cart is different from the idea of working in a food cart.
  2. Clean as you go.
  3. Prep with purpose.
  4. Fresh water is unlimited, gray water storage is not.
  5. Done with that knife? Why is it still on the work surface?
  6. Everything in its right place.
  7. Is that Cambro sanitized? Are you sure?
  8. Made a mistake? Own it immediately.
  9. Mashed cilantro is not the same as chopped cilantro.
  10. The ones cooking are the ones making money, anticipate their needs.
  11. Clean as you go.
  12. Nothing aside from shoes and cleaning products touch the floor.
  13. You cannot wash your hands too many times.
  14. Move gingerly, but don’t be hesitant.
  15. Clean as you go.
  16. Drink water, lots of it, often.
  17. When orders are backing up it’s better to overestimate the wait time and pleasantly surprise the customer than vice versa.
  18. Deep frying, even in modest volume, is a nasty affair.
  19. Being a lefty in a world of righties is not an advantage.
  20. Customers are the reason you’re there; make certain they know that.