There was so much more than just a view from my home office. The densely wooded scenery across the street soon became the construction site for several large apartments. And while the building commotion quickly increased, I started to hear nostalgic tunes among the overload of construction noise.
The events started punctually at 3 pm. The echo-y speakers started playing the old-fashioned jingle of The Entertainer and switched to Turkey in the Straw. To my surprise, an ice cream truck had found its way through the construction entrance and onto the dusty clay roads. A flood of workers soon congregated at the van’s side window while an exchange of cash and ice cream quickly ensued.
Every weekday, this pattern continued. The ice cream truck, with its glossy white finish and menu of multicolored treats, quickly became the afternoon hotspot. I named this truck, Classic for its nostalgic appearance, which reminded me of the trucks that drove around my neighborhood growing up. Classic controlled all the business for the entire site, but their solo reign was short-lived.
After several weeks of Classic’s afternoon visits, it was strange when one day, I heard the intercom tunes around 2:30 — earlier than usual. The ice cream truck songs were not from Classic but another vehicle. A dark green van was racing down the construction road, scattering red dirt in its wake. Its menu of frozen desserts looked hastily slapped on, like one of those sticker-covered walls at a dive bar. This vehicle blurred the lines between an 80s sprinter van and a questionable food truck. It didn’t like playing by the rules, and thus, I named it Rogue.
Once Rogue parked in the central lot, the workers looked confused as they walked out, expecting to see Classic’s polished white van. But after discovering Rogue provided similar treats to Classic, the workers sheepishly walked up to the truck and ordered. Then, 3 pm rolled around, and Classic arrived at the construction site. The two clashing intercoms blasting tunes made for an ear-splitting sound. Classic parked nearby, curiously eyeing this unknown intruder. Soon, the workers started to split into separate lines. Classic got about a quarter of their standard customers. The drivers looked over at each other, and I could sense the growing tension. There was no playing nice straight from the start.
The next day Classic came storming in early, around 2 pm, gathering orders. Rogue drove in 15 minutes later, and rather than parking at the lot where Classic was, they did a quick lap around the vicinity to let everyone know they were here. Rogue then stopped on the construction site’s opposite side, claiming new territory. Classic and Rogue now had their own turf.
The battle continued for several weeks before changing tactics. First, Classic started offering free bottled water for each customer, but Rogue soon parried this move by providing the same service. Next, Classic started arriving right at lunchtime, and Rogue followed suit. Then Classic began to sell a range of different snacks while Rogue sweetened its deals with discounted soda. The trucks were in an all-out war for business, utilizing their entire playbook.
As the summer came to a close and the cool fall weather arrived, the trucks eventually stopped visiting the site. And now, almost a full year later, the apartment complex is nearly complete. But with summer quickly approaching, I thought about Rogue and Classic. Maybe somewhere out there, they are preparing for their subsequent encounter. Or perhaps they’re battling it out right now at another building site. Whatever the circumstances, one thing is for sure — rivalry is a dish best served cold and sugary.