SideWalk Ghosts / Interview 294: “Food Truck Alley”

“I like old stuff and new stuff. People say that I was born in the wrong era, but I have to nip that. I have an appreciation for antiquated things… Older things interest me…” Explains Squeezebox Sam as he generalizes his outlook on modern society.

“…But I think that as far as society goes… as far as humanity goes, I feel like in the last one hundred… two hundred years… the human being as a creature has evolved socially and scientifically for the better. And I think I’m living in exactly the right period of time… I think I’m lucky to not have been put in 1890 or 1956 or something like that.”

Sam is a way cool gent, and with the companionship of his equally interesting fiancé, multi-media artist Nouar, I am not only entertained by their quirky style of street music, but am enlightened by their charismatic blend of personality, intelligence and spontaneous creativity.

It takes a special kind of person to open their world to unknown passer byes. And at the prompt of my sister-in-law as we enjoy an outing at food truck alley, “Go talk to them!” I am captivated to grab sidewalk with my new artistic friends.

“Watch where you step…” The Squeezebox councils, “…you’ve got to step carefully in your life. That applies to all kinds of things… from business to learning yourselves… leave a small footprint… that kind of thing… Watch where you step!

You should always watch where you put your feet, both figuratively and in what you do. That’s my advice.”

Sam’s words so align with 365’s core purpose of getting us all to think more deeply about the question of putting our feet in the shoes of others. I tell Squeezebox about this premise.

“Ah yes…!” he say, “’…Atticus Finch, To Kill A Mockingbird. ‘One thing you’ve got to learn is to get in somebody else’s skin and walk around in it for a while. You’d get along with people a whole lot better.’”

The Squeezebox is a very educated man with multiple degrees he teaches a variety of subject from art to film to English.

“I’ve been focusing on teaching English for the last couple of years, there’s better job security in that subject,” he tells me.

I’m not even going to get started on that soapbox. I’ll just keep it short. Well maybe not…

…A couple of months ago while driving home, I noticed well working traffic signals being replaced. About eight miles of them, they were in perfect working order. And, I would probably be bewildered to know exactly how much the expense of this senseless upgrade was to we the taxpayers. I’m sure it was a bunch of cash.

As I was stopped, yep, at one of the not yet replaced, well working traffic signals, I looked to the left at a deteriorating elementary school. My heart sank a little as I though about the school. Not just for the improvement (no…!no…!no…! – I catch myself as I am writing this account), the maintenance funds it needs. Even more troublesome is the serious educational cutbacks of staff and curriculum that is rapidly becoming epidemic in many a school system.

From loosing teachers, to eliminating art and other similar courses that stimulate independent thinking our countries school system is becoming rapidly flawed. This added to classes that are overpopulated with good teachers being pressed to their braking point in doing whatever they can to provide quality education. Added to this their hands are tied by an overwhelming number of political controls, organizational macro-management and lack of financial incentives.

So to see an upgrade to a working traffic system, at the taxpayer’s expense, just kills me. I know the issues of governmental economic problems are overwhelming, and I am not speaking with my head in the clouds of wholly emotional outburst.

But I cannot for the life of me understand why one of the most important contributors to bettering the future, that being education, continues to take the financial back seat in many cases. I’m telling you… I’d be quite happy with the same old stop lights, knowing that money was pointed towards teaching our kids.

Alright, I’ll calm down… and Squeezebox, I appreciate your giving me the floor for a moment of vent. Thank you for commitment to teaching our kids. Hope you can keep some of the arts alive in how you approach your English teaching.

Nouar shares a few word of advice. “Be careful on whose toes you step on today, because they may be connected to the ass you have to kiss tomorrow.”

Squeezebox bursts out a supportive chuckle, “It’s poetic!”

I think about Nouar’s call, and with a smile, realize how appropriate it is, even modifying it. “The reverse works too,” I reveal.

We exchange smiles and move on.

Nouar speaks of her concerns for the future. “We need to recycle and take care of what we have already… conservation and reusing in general.” Pointing to her cup, “’Like this cup… I think, ‘What I can use it for?’

Always try to look at things in your surroundings in how you can reuse them.

I’m an artist, so I guess I always look at things a little differently. What can I do with this or that sort of thing?’”

Sam again smiles enthusiastically at his lady. And with the same energy Nouar passes the baton back to him for his comments on what’s ahead.

“My advice for the world?” The Squeezebox reflects. “As a teacher… I hope that humanity doesn’t stagger in its upward swing… I hope it keeps moving up… they don’t lag… they don’t stall off… they don’t get caught up in the now, instead of looking at the future…

Yes… I think I’m going to hope for that…

…That people will do their part to make the world a better place for human beings in general.”

Readers, thank you for joining us this evening for our musical jaunt down food truck alley; Friday night home of fine food, entertainment, and for those who open their arms, meaningful conversation.

Conversation that with hope and humor Squeezebox and Nouar have so gracefully entrusted to us. Their words are our feast this evening.

And even with so many eating options around tonight… In speaking with Squeezebox and Nouar I consider myself nourished.

Well let’s say socially fed… I still have to find my culinary treat!

Talk tomorrow my friends!

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