A frank discussion at Fenway
Q. Hot dogs are what you usually sell. Why?
A. Everyone picks based on seniority and when they get to the park. The eight beer slots go first. There is less running around with beer than other foods, because of checking IDs, and at Fenway you can only sell in the lower boxes, so you don’t have to walk so many steps. On a hot day, it’s a good gig. After beer, the hot dogs go next, but right now it’s 90 degrees out, and if it’s a day game, you might rather take water or something cold, a slush or lemonade.
Q. What about peanuts?
A. Peanuts are funny. The longer you work you start seeing how different products sell. The weather becomes a really important factor, also the night of the week, and even the team that comes in. On Sunday or Saturday night games, people had the day off, so they might not be inclined to have dinner at the park. Peanuts or cotton candy or Cracker Jack sell better. Hot dog sales are much better when the Yankees are here than when Tampa Bay comes to town.
Q. Where are sales best?
A. Around home plate. That’s where the most expensive seats are. And certain parts of the park have different weather. It gets much hotter around home plate toward left field. The wind doesn’t blow that way, so it might be 10 degrees hotter there than in right field or the bleachers. [On a hot day] you might be able to take hot dogs or peanuts there, but at home plate you take water to sell.
Q. You wanted the vending job so you could watch the games. Do you get to see the action?
A. You can peek at the game, but generally you are so busy selling you don’t really have time to watch. But you know when something big is happening because everyone is standing up, so you turn around. I generally know if the Sox are up or down, or when someone hits a home run, but I couldn’t tell you the box score when I’m working.
Q. The job looks very demanding to me.
A. Some guys show up, work 20 games, and stop showing up. It’s physically tough, and it’s intimidating. You are in front of 30,000 fans, and there is something about that that people struggle with. If you are not loud enough, or don’t have enough moxie, you can feel intimidated by people. And it’s hard to move around. You have to be resourceful.
Q. Is it hard to hear people yelling for hot dogs?
A. If someone yells “hot dog’’ from a section over, I can hear it. I have bad vision, but 30 rows up, if someone puts up their hand, I can see. But at the same time, people who know me who are at the park will tell me they were yelling my name and I didn’t hear them. If you want my attention, you have to yell “hot dog.’’
Q. How heavy is that metal hot dog box?
A. Forty-plus pounds, and I carry it above my head. When things aren’t selling, it’s definitely a grind and wears you down. Ice cream and candy are lighter, but those you generally have to move around a lot more because sales aren’t as high.
Q. The athletes train - do you?
A. I spend the whole winter and even during the summer going to the gym. My back gets a lot of wear and tear. I don’t play basketball during the summer, and even in winter I don’t ski, for fear of getting hurt.
Q. How important is speed in assembling a hot dog?
A. Some guys take 10 seconds to make one; I might do one in four seconds. If you can take two seconds off a sale, and you are making hundreds of sales, you have 10 extra minutes at the end to sell an additional 30 hot dogs. We make a percentage of every hot dog, so the more you sell, the better you do.
Q. You guys have numbers on the back of your shirts. What number do you usually wear?
A. I’m generally number 9. I was a big Ted Williams fan growing up.