Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Ice Cream Truck Finale

Way back in February I asked for your help.  We had lost our ice cream truck.  It used to come by my kids' school almost every day, and I'd buy ice cream from it every week or so (for the kids!).  My weakness for ice cream novelties is well-documented.

Then, in what can only be assumed was caused by a conflict with the school district, it vanished.  I tried calling the number on the card he gave me, but it had been disconnected.  I tried calling the number on the side of the truck, but the person who answered just hung up on me.  Once, late to an appointment, I saw the truck driving by and couldn't stop.  My son cried.  The appointment was cancelled five minutes later.

Months passed, and I compulsively stared at every passing truck on the road.  No luck.  Then, suddenly, about a month ago, I saw it on a side street while taking my son home.  We screamed and I performed a vehicular stunt that would have resulted in the immediate revocation of my license had it been observed by any public servant.

Something like this.
We followed the truck through the neighborhoods of Los Altos, flashing our lights occasionally.  For several blocks, the driver was completely oblivious, then he pulled over.

"Where the fudge* have you been?" I cried as my son ordered.  "I tried calling the number on your truck!"
"Oh, yeah.  That's the place I get ice cream.  They don't speak English."
"I tried the number on your card!"
"Oh, yeah.  That's off."

He took out another business card and wrote his new number on the back.  I put it in my phone and, over the next month, called him several times a week.  The calls went something like this:

"Where are you today?"
"San Jose!"
"Oh.  Maybe another day."


"Where are you now?"
[Incomprehensible mumble.]
"I'm sorry, what?"
[Louder, incomprehensible mumble.]
"Oh.  Maybe another day."


"I come to you at five o'clock."
"Oh, that's dinner time.  Maybe another day."

On Tuesday, I called while leaving my son's school, and he said he'd be by in half an hour.  I spelled the name of our street just to be sure he'd find us.
Not that hard to spell, really.
Half an hour later, my children sat, staring out the windows, definitely not doing their homework.  Half an hour after that, I called again.

"I can't find your street," he said.
I tried to explain, but there's a language barrier and a "my hearing sucks" barrier.
"Are you near downtown?" he said.
"Uh.  Kinda."
"I find you."

Thirty minutes pass.  I call again.

"I went all over downtown.  I'm near Costco now.  Are you near there?"
"No!  That's miles away.  Don't you have text or email?  I could send our address."
"No.  I give you the number of my friend.  You text it to him."

I do as he says.  We wait half an hour.  Someone calls my phone.

"Hi.  This is kinda strange.  There's a guy in an ice cream truck in front of our house.  He handed me your number and asked me to find out where you are."

You have to admire the man's chutzpah.  In any case, she drew him a map.  We finally sat down to dinner (masa fried trout and grilled artichokes), assured he'd never arrive or we'd get another call from somewhere in Nevada.

Then, nearly finished eating, my head shot up and my eyes widened.**  Everyone jumped back and my wife asked if I was feeling okay.  As an answer I charged out the door (which was, conveniently, right next to my chair).

And there he was.

"I remember you.  You go to the Community School." he said.  Charter school***, but who am I to argue with a man who drove all over Silicon Valley to sell me five dollars' worth of ice cream?
My kids each picked out two. I gave him a twenty and insisted he keep the change.  He gave us extra popsicles.

"What's your schedule like?" I asked.  "When are you around?"
"I'll remember your street," he said.  "I'll come by on Tuesdays."

The kids cheered.

So, ice cream party at my place.  Feel free to drop by any Tuesday.

*You can only swear in dessert terms when talking to the operator of a licensed ice cream truck.
**Can someone explain to me why, sometimes, someone like me (with terrible vision and hearing) can hear things before everyone else and see things other people don't notice?

***There is no footnote here.  I just put it in to see if you'd look.

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