Minnesota Nice, Hot Dog Edition
July 24, 2018 10:32 AM   Subscribe

Jerk calls city on kid's hot dog stand to get it shut down. City helps kid pass Health Department certification and pays for his permit to sell hot dogs legally as a pop-up.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (20 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
Also that "Trust № 1" shirt is pretty great.
posted by aubilenon at 10:44 AM on July 24, 2018 [2 favorites]

HaHa, Jerk. Up yours.
posted by BlueHorse at 10:49 AM on July 24, 2018

This is awesome and totally relevant to my job and interests. One of the things we do training on is food handling safety, and we pay for the test and food handler's permit card.

And it's really not that hard. It's always a lot of fun to show how easy it is and how there's just some really basic rules like temperatures and holding times and how to prevent cross contamination, especially when the trainee is young and/or marginalized and they realize they can ace the (admittedly easy) test, and that they've totally got this.

I've only been at the job a few months and I know there's been at least a few trainees that basically went and got basic jobs because they realized it's not actually that hard, and they were able to get their confidence back basically playing "coffee house" in a low risk environment.

I actually highly recommend that even non-industry folks take the test and get a food handler's permit. It makes it easier to do cool things like volunteer at food banks or festivals, or doing stuff like Food Not Bombs or cookouts.

OTOH, I often feel a little ambiguous about training people for the food/service industry, because honestly it's often a lot of "Ok, you've got a job, now welcome to hell." and I spend a lot of time and emotional labor encouraging people to go to school and find other work.

One of my recent younger trainees asked a really astute question of "How do you handle rude and difficult customers?" and my honest answer was "Well, mainly you go home and cry and feel shitty about it. It sucks and it's the worst part of the job. But remember that behind this counter you can say no and refuse service to rude customers."
posted by loquacious at 10:53 AM on July 24, 2018 [42 favorites]

Certainly a feel good story about folks stepping up to help enable this young man to do the work that he wants to do.

What frustrates me a bit about the story though is that the permit is temporary, lasts 10 days, and costs 87 bucks for 10 days. I'm fully supportive of the rules that require he serves the food in a safe manner (go through training to ensure he knows how to do this).

But to require 87$ for every 10 day permit? That doesn't seem reasonable, and it would be great if the city could have a permit that would last longer and facilitate young folks to do this sort of thing without the charity of organizations willing to sponsor him.
posted by el io at 11:25 AM on July 24, 2018 [9 favorites]

I'd guess the problem then is how do you keep people from using children as fronts for commercial activity and thus undermining the adult food industry, who have to pay full freight for permits. Possibly a special under-18 month long reduced-cost permit might be safe enough. I'd guess the pop-up permit is aimed towards weeklong festivals, two weekends and the intervening days.
posted by tavella at 12:00 PM on July 24, 2018 [4 favorites]

The 10 day permit is probably an on-site catering permit. This often means that a health and food safety inspector will show up and look at the setup, prep, temps and stuff either at the start of the operating permit or at the start of each outdoor/on site operating day.

This is a thing that happens in most permitted temp food popup that sell or serve to the public at, say, a carnival or chili cookoff or the like. If you get to an event like this early, look for someone dour-looking scurrying around from booth to booth with a clipboard and thermometer, usually just before gates or service opens.

The city could, of course, waive this permit fee, but this would open up the city to lawsuits about preferential treatment and other bullshit, and some scummy penny pinching turd-brain would use it to get their own free permits because we can't have nice things.

Having a sponsor is probably the best, safest option for the city or county. Heck, they could even arrange for the sponsor. They just can't give away free permits, because that would cause civic chaos.
posted by loquacious at 12:02 PM on July 24, 2018 [8 favorites]

This is a nice story about the state as a facilitator of things instead of an enforcer of them.

Imagine that.
posted by entropone at 12:09 PM on July 24, 2018 [11 favorites]

"When his 10-day permit expires, Faulkner will be moving locations, KCPQ-13 reported. First, he’ll head to the police precinct, which sponsored his next permit. From there, members of the Urban League and a community church will donate cash for more permits, which should keep Faulkner’s little business open until he goes back to school."
posted by cooker girl at 12:38 PM on July 24, 2018 [23 favorites]

how do you keep people from using children as fronts for commercial activity

There's always that one asshole....
posted by BlueHorse at 1:05 PM on July 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

I'd guess the problem then is how do you keep people from using children as fronts for commercial activity and thus undermining the adult food industry

Is this actually a problem?
posted by rhizome at 1:17 PM on July 24, 2018 [2 favorites]

Is this actually a problem?

It’s 2018.
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:20 PM on July 24, 2018 [3 favorites]

Is this actually a problem?

If children got discounted food sales permits? Almost certainly would become an issue very quickly. Someone will want to exploit that arbitrage.
posted by tavella at 2:24 PM on July 24, 2018 [7 favorites]

Tangentially, the Wikipedia entry for "Minnesota Nice" has been edited to comic effect.
posted by Dr. Twist at 2:54 PM on July 24, 2018

I am willing to bet the person who complained was white. I was willing to make that bet based on knowledge of Minneapolis and his neighborhood, but having read in the second link that the complaint came after there was some publicity, I'm all but certain. Ugh, Minnesota.
posted by hoyland at 5:33 PM on July 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

I'm sure it feels like I'm spoiling what's supposed to be a feel good story, but it's like the epitome of my frustration with Minnesota--superficially nice, but never actually looks at itself.
posted by hoyland at 5:34 PM on July 24, 2018 [2 favorites]

Eh. In the case of a hot dog stand, there's genuine concerns. I don't think the complainant is necessarily a racist dick, though they certainly could be. Lemonade and bottled water are pretty safe even with inexperienced handling. Hot dogs are meat and much more susceptible, and badly handled meat can make people extremely sick. So the solution is perfect -- he has the right knowledge to be safe, and the permit to show that he does.
posted by tavella at 6:12 PM on July 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

Calling the cops on a kid without even talking to him first, that's not cool. He's grilling hot dogs, not vandalizing buildings. Perhaps the "concerned neighbor" could have told the kid he might have to get a permit. I work for a newspaper where one of my jobs is compiling police reports and wish it was our policy to publish the names and addresses of some of these callers. There are a lot of concerned neighbors calling about "suspicious people" in their white neighborhood when really it is a black gas company worker or contractor on legitimate business. I'm glad the city and police rewarded this kid instead of punishing him.
posted by greatalleycat at 8:23 PM on July 24, 2018

It'd be great if a police operator could summon some Fargo-style Minnesota niceness in response to one of those calls.

Q: So he's acting suspicious in what way, then?
A: Oh, just a... a general sort of way.
Q: Can you describe the interloper?
A: Well, he's... he's black... and carrying a clipboard.
Q: Anything suspicious about him?
A: Well, like I said... he sure does seem suspicious though.
Q: Clipboard doesn't seem so suspicious, now, does it? Clipboard might be for a survey. Maybe a pledge drive. Clipboard... now that don't mean much.
A: Okee, maybe that's so, but....
Q: So it's just the black, then.

posted by rokusan at 10:57 PM on July 24, 2018 [3 favorites]

I'm sure it feels like I'm spoiling what's supposed to be a feel good story, but it's like the epitome of my frustration with Minnesota--superficially nice, but never actually looks at itself.

You can't have Minnesota Nice without Minnesota Ice. I lived there for 6 years and learned pretty quickly that Minnesota Nice meant being polite without being kind. It meant being a good neighbor by virtue of having good fences.
posted by entropone at 5:06 AM on July 25, 2018 [3 favorites]

The reasonable response to a genuine concern, though, would be to talk to the kid and either put up the money for a permit yourself or help him gather donations, depending on your means. An adult running a hot dog stand without a permit is one thing, a kid is another. (It's also not the first summer he's been in business, suggesting that people in the neighborhood are not concerned, though I concede the genuinely concerned member of the public may have recently moved to the area. And if the genuinely concerned person was not from the neighborhood, but found out about it from the social media post (made by the police!) approaching some neighborhood organization and saying "Hey, I'm worried, can we get him training" would be a means to the same end and would make this a less ambiguous feel-good story)

(For context, if he's where I think he is, it's a majority black neighborhood (with a not insignificant Asian minority) that has started seeing increasing numbers of white people moving in and making "quality of life" complaints both about things that aren't issues and about things that no one thinks are desirable, but where people have felt the risk-reward calculus of going to the police or city is the wrong way round.)
posted by hoyland at 5:09 AM on July 25, 2018

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