I’ll never forget the time when a young boy and his mother came to visit my booth. It was a particularly sweaty Saturday in Williamsburg. At about 3pm, I was starting to break down my setup. We had sold out of pops early that day, and I was getting ready to leave. As I was packing up behind my wooden stand, I heard an eager voice ask, “Do you have any pops left?”
I looked up and saw a half worried half excited mother with her young son, who looked about 10 or 11 years old.
“Sorry, we already sold out today,” I exclaimed. She and her son looked disheartened.
“Oh no!” she said, “We came all the way from Long Island just for these pops.” The mother put her hands on her son’s shoulders and explained, “My son has a really sensitive stomach, and it’s really difficult to find food he likes. We saw a video online about them, and thought these would be perfect.”
My heart sank. “Wow, I’m so sorry,” I replied. I didn’t know what to say. “We will be back next Saturday if you guys can make the trip again.” She nodded, the boy gave me a shy half-smile, and they both walked away a little discouraged and pop-less. At that moment, I had mixed emotions of guilt, amazement, and curiosity. Holy cow, my pops were starting to have an impact on people.
The very next Saturday, food traffic at Smorgasburg was slower than usual. As I scanned the crowds, I noticed two familiar figures walking swiftly towards my booth. A wide grin immediately spread across my face as I exclaimed, “You made it! Welcome back.”
The same mother and her son had come back to finally receive the tummy-friendly popsicle they had been seeking for.
“Do you know what flavor you’d like?” I asked.
The mother pointed to the flavor sign. “I think you’d like the mango orange or the cherry. Should we get both?” The boy smiled and gave a big nod. “We’ll get the mango orange and cherry sumac please,” the mom said as she eagerly handed me a $20 bill. In return, I handed them the ice-cold treats that were steaming from the humidity.
“Thanks,” said the boy quietly. He smiled at his mom who was smiling right back as they melted into the thick crowds of people.
In moments like these, I’m reminded of why I spend countless hours in the kitchen, why I run around NYC with a cooler on the subway, why I barely sleep, and why I carry on. How I make people feel is priceless.
This is Rubes
p.s. Newsletters will be published bi-weekly on Saturdays at 11:10am.