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Meals on Wheels for Everyone

By John Bunyan · June 30th, 2010 · Living Out Loud
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My neighbor dug up most of his basement floor to redo the plumbing under his house. Several guys in the neighborhood pitched in to help.

I wasn’t among them, because they all have some kind of job in a relevant industry or trade that makes them an asset to such a task, while I don’t. They also have far greater quantities of youth and strength than I.

My role was to just stand around and watch as if I was ready to pitch in if they should need an old, out-of-shape guy to, I don’t know, hold a flashlight or something.

So there we all were, deep in a cavern of noise and cement dust, when the sound of “The Chicken Dance” being played on mechanical bells struck our ears. It was the Gold Star Chilimobile coming down the street.

All the boys dropped their tools and ran outside to stop the truck and get an afternoon treat. My neighbor hung back, looking forlorn.

“Don’t worry,” I said. “They’ll be back after they finish off their three-ways.”

“It’s not that,” he muttered, head down. “I don’t have any money.”

“Come on,” I urged, pulling him toward the street, “I’m buying today.”

When we got outside, some of the boys were standing by the truck, digging in their pockets for coins that might be hiding among the cell phones, iPods and yoyos, hoping to find enough money for at least a cheese coney.

Bob was on his phone, pleading with his wife: “I used the last $5 you gave me on cigarettes. Can I please have an advance on my allowance? Please, please, please, please, pretty pleeeeaaassseee?”

“No,” I heard his wife shout back.

“It’ll spoil your dinner.”

I assured the guys that I had enough cash to get everyone something, as long as they promised not to tell their wives. Any chili stains on their jeans would be their own fault.

The Chilimobile is a real thing; I read that Gold Star brought it out a couple of years ago to be a marketing gimmick at festivals or events. Now they’ll have the truck out as an actual part of their business to serve lunch at downtown locations or at sports parks or strip malls. They might even serve the late-night crowd leaving bars a quick fully loaded coney to settle their stomachs and absorb some alcohol.

It’s real, but it won’t actually be rolling down my street, and I don’t know why not. The Gold Star Chili Chilimobile reportedly was planned as a way to offer food in places with minimal dining options.

I’m sorry, but I work downtown and there are far more food options there, in easy walking distance, than there are in my neighborhood at home. Why aren’t they driving down my street?

When I was very young, our neighborhood in Los Angeles still had milk deliveries. The Helms Bakery trucks still delivered bread and doughnuts and other baked goods up until I was a teenager. All the services that had fleets of delivery trucks have disappeared except for the ice cream truck, which, like everything else in life, is not as good as when I was a kid.

My sister and I used to buy the Popsicle Double Buddy: conjoined frozen pops, which we’d knock against the edge of the curb to split and then share. Once done with the treat, we could file the stick on the sidewalk to fashion a knife out of it.

No one does that anymore. The kids would probably be sent to counseling over the weapon-making alone, but my point is this: Delivery trucks used to be everywhere.

Why should Meals on Wheels exist just for the shut-ins? Why not have the Chilimobile come down my street, followed by the Christian Moerlein beermobile? I know my neighbor’s basement would never get finished, but it would still be a valuable service.

Think of all the possibilities: Starbucks coffee and muffins in the morning, Steak and Shake (or Five Guys or City BBQ) for lunch and a big brick oven on wheels delivering pizza for dinner. I know you’re right now imagining your own favorite things coming down your street and stopping outside your door.

Yes, I know you can get pizza or Chinese food or some other things delivered to your door conveniently, no more than 45 minutes after they were freshly made and boxed up and put in the car with some stoner who has 10 other stops before you. I’m talking about the thrill of being in your home, doing something constructive, not quite yet aware that you’re craving a five-way, when suddenly you hear the signal that it’s right outside, being cooked up as it rolls. All you have to do is abandon your chores, grab your change jar and race outside.

Sure, this would put a few gas-guzzling trucks on the road, but think of the millions of cars not cruising to Burger King and idling in long drive-thru lines. This system would ensure convenience and energy savings at the same time.

Democrats can support this because it’s environmentally sound and serves the common people. Republicans can support it because it’s free enterprise. Teabaggers can support it because it brings Real America back to us.

I’m going to look into buying my own truck and … wait … I think I hear the chicken dance bells again.


CONTACT JOHN BUNYAN: letters@citybeat.com


 
 
 
 

 

 
 
 
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