It was Friday and I finished up working late. I had no plans, but I wanted to find something to do, anything. But the sun was getting ready to set so I didn’t have time to find my bicycle and go for a ride. Checking online to see if there was a Food Truck somewhere, I discovered that Gandolfo’s New York Deli Dallas truck was pulling in to some apartment complex just north of Downtown Dallas. I had never eaten from that truck so I decided to make it a go.
Instead of going home and changing, I simply hopped the DART train next to my work and went downtown, using my phone GPS to find my way around. I wanted some fresh cash so I hunted around for an ATM – and discovered from the Internet search comments there was only one ATM from my bank in downtown Dallas that wasn’t inside a giant skyscraper. It was a tough walk through the canyons between the glass towers. The bank branch was a drive-through, and I patiently waited on foot behind some guy in a convertible and in front of a couple in a BMW to get my cash.
Then I hoofed it north out of downtown and found the apartments. The Food Truck was inside the complex – but I walked past the security guard, asking him, “Hey are those sandwiches from the truck any good?” – he said yes and let me through.
I had already looked at their menu online and decided to get a Knuckle Sandwich. There’s something odd about walking up to a stranger and telling him, “I want a Knuckle Sandwich.”
While I was waiting, some woman drove up and asked, “Hey, what’s up with this?” I explained it was a food truck, and this one was a Deli on wheels, that their sandwiches looked really good. “Oh, yeah, I’ll give it a try,” she said and turned into the parking garage.
When my order was ready the guy threw some plastic eating utensils into my bag and said, “You need a fork with this one.”
Now my problem was finding a place to sit down and eat the damn thing. The apartment complex had some little nooks with benches or tables, but I don’t live there, felt a little uncomfortable, and wanted to find someplace else. Once I hit the streets, walking back toward the train platforms, I remembered that downtown Dallas is not a very pedestrian friendly place. It is a city of heavy traffic, massive buildings, and underground malls – the surface is not inviting to mere humans. As I walked I could see a few hapless confused tourists out on the sidewalks looking for something to do. Once the sun sets and the security goes up – it’s pretty damn barren down there.
I did remember the fountains around the bottom of I. M. Pei’s giant glass prism of Fountain Place. There is a cool programmable fountain set in an artificial grove of bald cypress trees that I’ve always liked.That spot, the massive building cantilevered out overhead, water running in burbling, professionally designed paths, and the complex patterned programming of the fountain jets foaming up out of the holes in the granite, lit at night by careful variable fiber optics – has always represented the best of the big city to me. A planned, programmed respite from the hustle and bustle.
It was a good sweaty walk from where I was, but I decided to hoof it anyway.
Once I reached my goal I discovered a velvet rope up across the entrance with a sign that said, “Closed, Private Wedding.” There wasn’t anybody inside yet and I was sorely tempted to hop in anyway, but thought better of it. I know it technically isn’t a “public space” but all I wanted was to sit down for a minute and eat my sandwich in peace. I hope their marriage ends in tears.
So I walked around the building and found a bench along the sidewalk, sat down and ate my sandwich. It was pretty darn good – and the guy was right, I needed the fork to get it all.
There wasn’t much left to do, so I rode the train back out to my car. Nighttime falls quickly and public transportation in the dark fills up with a varied and motley lot. It would be good people watching, except that you are watching people that, along with you, have been trapped and sealed up in a hurtling giant cramped metal tube propelled by overhead cables of high-voltage current. After a while, you look around at the homeless crackheads, the sullen alcoholics, the innervated drunks, the clots of gang bangers trying to keep their pants up, lost souls on the way to a party, any party, anywhere, bottom rung workers trying to keep their dignity and eyes open on the way home after a long, long day… you look around and think, hey, I’m here too.
Such is life in the big city.