Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Pink's Hot Dog Stand

How long would you be willing to stand in line for a hot dog?

Much to my own amazement ... I waited a whopping 1 hour and 45 minutes!

Saturday night, after I picked up my race packet, I headed over to Pink's Hot Dog Stand in Hollywood. It was almost 9 pm and I was worried they would be closing. Wow, was I wrong. When I arrived the line was down the block, wrapped around the corner, through the the parking lot (a measly 10 double parked places) and into the back alley. Oh, and closing time ... 3 am!!

Line up at Pink's Hot Dog Stand - Saturday Night

So what in the world would possess me to stand in line sooo looong for a Hot Dog?!?

It turns out -- the journey is more important than the destination.

Pink's is a local landmark and people travel from all over for their hot dogs. I quickly realized that standing on the side of the road I was meeting the most fascinating people. No hot dog was going to top the experience of hangin' out and chatting with these folks. I spent much of my wait with a couple who had just come from UCLA medical center. They were visiting a friend who was recovering from a recent lung transplant. We were beside each other for at least half an hour before I read the text on her pink cap. It said, "quiet, hair growing". Her bald head was evidence of her two year battle with Ovarian cancer. As I looked for the "healthy" hot dog option - she was embracing the moment for all it was worth and checking out the most decadent chilli cheese fries and a hot dog with pastrami on it! Part way through our wait she tired and went out back to sit. I think she had almost given up hope on us when her husband and I finally rounded the corner at 11 pm with her order.

The hot dog stand is celebrating 69 years. Over the years, very little expansion or modernization has been done . When you *finally* make it to the order window - it is the cook himself that takes your order. No pen and paper, no computer - just "what would you like" and then as you stand and watch ... your meal is made. The engineer in me wants to re-design the process, stream line things, optimize -- but there is something insanely comforting in the this old fashioned hot dog stand. As you wait and wait and wait in line .... you cease focusing on the destination - you pause and embrace the present moment and the company of your fellow travelers.

Order window. The cook takes your order and makes it while you wait!

11:30 pm - Mission Accomplished.

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