Tacos, Tornados, and Two from Tupelo

September 27th, 2010    •  by Andy    •   No Comments »

Our tours have, up until recently, been as close to seamless as we could have possibly hoped for. Weather – certainly a big variable on the taco truck tour – has been almost invariably wonderful, our guests have been almost unfailingly engaged and appreciative, and our restaurant partners have gone above and beyond in providing for our groups time and time again.

We started to get the feeling that everything was almost going too well… and couldn’t help but feel as though we’d not yet been ‘tested’.

That is, until recently.

As locals may recall, around 5:00pm this past Tuesday the tornado sirens went off. Rain was blowing sideways, the sky was thoroughly ominous, and we had a taco truck tour at 6:30pm. TV and radio was dominated by non-stop coverage of funnel clouds, ‘rotation’, and lightning strikes. Then, at 5:30pm, as the tornado warning expired, we got a call from one of our guests for the tour. He and his acquaintance had flown in from Tupelo, MS, attended a convention, and were staying in a hotel by the airport that had promised shuttle service to downtown. Being, of course, in need of said shuttle service in order to meet us for the tour, the hotel was suddenly unwilling to make good on their promise.

They were stuck.

If we really pushed it, we thought we could get ready for the tour, drive out to the airport hotel, pick them up, and be back to our regular ‘meeting point’ by show time. Given how unhappy our Tupelo customer had been with his stay in town (which consisted primarily of time in an airport hotel) up to this point, we felt like we had to try.

But we hadn’t really given proper consideration to what the weather would do to traffic. Our typical ten minute jaunt to the airport took 30 nerve-wracking minutes, and the drive back (on Broad St. to avoid the parking lot otherwise known as 670) took almost as long. The high winds were blowing the van all over the road and just keeping it in a lane amounted to a monumental task of concentration. We made it to the meeting point just by 6:30pm, loaded up the rest of our tour guests, and headed out for the west side…

…whereupon we found that the first truck on our tour was closed due to lack of power.

“This is going to be a disaster”, someone murmured from the back of the tour van. That is, of course, just about the worst thing a tour operator will ever hear, but it was hard to argue with –  we had been thinking the exact same thing. Are all of the taco trucks without power?

We always keep a ‘backup’ truck in mind, in case any truck on the tour was closed for any reason, and – thankfully! – they were actually open. Then the rain then stopped. Our typical second truck, Taqueria Little Mexico, was also open, and upon eating there our group seemed to lighten up a bit. Our next stop, Los Guachos, was the hit that it always is, and conversation seemed to nudge back towards interest and enjoyment of the moment. Power was clearly back on in the previously affected area.

Three stops later, and we had delivered a full, seemingly-satisfying, as-promised tour. Even got a couple of tips!

We aged 5 years that evening, and even so we were lucky – if the trucks were all without power, we would’ve been giving refunds, apologies, and offers to take another tour on us.

But as participants in the service industry, we’ll always do what we need to do – just make things work, one way or the other, to the furthest extent to which it’s in our power to do so. No excuses!