Dear PoPville – Lunch Truck Etiquette?

Photo by PoPville flickr user Mr. T in DC

“Dear PoPville,

With the recent boom in food trucks, I wanted to poll POPville and hash out the rules of the Food Truck Line. Just today I was in a fairly long line at one of these delightful pop-up establishments when a girl two places ahead of me allowed her three friends to join her, effectively bumping the rest of the line back three spots. The woman directly in front of me did not take kindly to this, and politely asked to step ahead of the newly formed group. The group allowed her, but muttered under their breath about it for the remaining 10 minute long wait.

Now, I understand that lunch is a social thing, and not all of your coworkers can get out of the office at the same time. But is it really fair to make others wait for the sake of your party? So few people have the luxury of enjoying a full hour for their lunch, and food trucks should be enjoyed by the masses! It seems to me the rules of the Food Truck Line need to be defined, and maybe even ratified….just like the Metro Escalator Rule.

What do you think?”

90 Comment

  • Ned Flanders is doling out cuts? I, for one, wish to partake of said!

  • Insane. Everyone involved with this should be in jail right now. The women who cut in line, the woman who made a fuss about it, the person who submitted this email, everyone in line at any point that day, the food truck operators, the cops, Prince of Petworth, everybody.

  • If food trucks should be enjoyed by the masses, then they should be coming out to more places!

    Can’t offer any advice since I’ve never been to a food trcuk– I can’t take a full hour to go get lunch either.

  • Line cutters suck. And line cutters who bitch about being put in their place suck even more.

    • Are they really line cutters? The woman that let them in could easily have just ordered for four and brought them their food. I say realize that if you are outside in the sun enjoying some delicious grub there are probably bigger things to worry about. Breathe, relax and realize that the 2 extra minutes you had to wait pales in comparison to the entire afternoon you waisted getting upset by this.
      Pop a xanax and relax.

      • Hahahaha thank you. Perfect response.

      • Entirely depends how quick they were with their orders and amexes. ๐Ÿ™‚

        • If you’ve found a food truck that takes credit cards, you must share. I love my reward points almost as much as I love the mac and cheese truck.

      • Yeah, they’re really line cutters. If someone shows up after me and jumps in line in front of me, they’re line cutters. The existence of other factual scenarios that would produce similar outcomes doesn’t alter the definition of line cutting. I usually don’t get worked up when someone cuts a line in front of me . . . and I wouldn’t get worked up in this scenario at a food truck . . . but I would stand there thinking to myself that the poor line-cutting bastards’ parents didn’t raise them right. I pity savage line cutters. I’d be over it in a minute.

        Also, a little courtesy goes a long way. If someone asks me politely whether they can cut a line in front of me to join their friends, I automatically smile and say “sure.” A little courtesy isn’t too much to ask of our neighbors.

        • What if the person behind you doesn’t want the line-cutters to cut? Why don’t you think about those behind you? It’s like people driving in a four-lane road at a curb-cut: one car with the right of way in the four-lane road will wave someone from the curb-cut to turn in front of them, a car also with the right of way in the four-lane road in the same direction of the first car will be passing in the second lane, and will be hit or hit the car from the curb-cut, which technically does not have the right of way, but the first car didn’t think about all the people behind him/her.

      • Oh good! Next time you’re in line tell me so I know who to cut. Seeing as you don’t care and you’re so zen n’ all

      • I usually hate line cutters, but I used this exact reasoning in the first paragraph to justify a recent line cutting of mine to join my girlfriend in line at Chipotle. I think she may have sensed my discomfort so she offered to take my order while I sat down, so that’s what actually happened.

    • +10000000 – There’s a line for a reason. No cuts. EVER.

      Or be willing to face a beat down.

  • ledroittiger

    That happened to me at Shake Shack this afternoon, so it ain’t just food trucks.

    • MsNesbitt

      Exactly my thoughts. What’s the difference between someone joining a line at a food truck versus at a Cosi? Sure, your wait just got longer by maybe 2-3 minutes, but in the grand scheme of things.. it’s only 2-3 minutes.

  • Cutting lines is wrong. We learned this in 1st grade.

  • Holding a space for someone is totally fine. If you don’t like it, then you don’t have friends. Next time, make a sandwich at home and go eat it in the bathroom stall while you cry.

  • As a particularly well rated line cutter, I’m kind of offended. Way to stereotype, jerks.

    • Am I the only one that was completely disappointed in that picture?

      False advertising, I say!


  • it’s very simple. the line exists because people are waiting. you get there, you wait in the back of the line. that’s the rules of civility. anything else is uncivilized.

    • The movie analogy isn’t really equivalent. I could buy tix for eight of my friends in just a fraction more time it would take me to buy just one for myself.

      Buying eight lunches at the food truck would take at least eight times as long as just ordering my own.

      At any rate, cutting in line is rude. Nobody deserves to die for it, it’s just rude, that’s all. So is buying for your three friends who happen to walk up and say, “hey, can get you get me a ___________ and I’ll pay you later?”

      Taking a lunch order for the office and going down to get it is kind of a grey area…. goes with the territory of living in a civil society: it’s acceptable, but don’t abuse it.

    • i offered you a lesson. but i can’t help you if your momma didn’t raise you right. it’s up to you now to learn etiquette and respect on your own big boy.
      rationalizing in defensiveness is for kids.

    • A transaction to buy multiple tickets at a movie takes no more time than buying 1. However if you are at the lobster truck properly queued up three people butting in front of you can be the differance between getting a lobster nad not getting one.

      Cutting in line is rude.

  • Yeah but were they Car-People or Bike-People? Or…Foot-People?

  • If people won’t let anyone cut, whats to stop the original person in line from ordering for their friends? Seems to be an unavoidable problem (or make some friends at the front of the line).

    • It’s often the transactions that take the most time so I don’t mind too much if people order for others, but adding transactions really irks me.

  • This, in my opinion, embodies one of the worst things about DC: It’s bursting at the seams with rude, self-important assholes.

    • I was going to say self-absorbed, but I like your description much better. Seriously, all of the people who think this kind of behavior is OK need to go back to kindergarten where *maybe* they could be taught some manners. If the person in front of the OP wanted to maintain her place in line, she should have told her friends to go to the back of the line and she’d see tham after they got their food. Otherwise, they all should have moved to the back of the line.

  • I’m officially done hold food trucks to a different standard than brick and mortar restaurants. Why is it so hard for food trucks to serve food in a timely fashion?

    Yesterday, I waited 15 min in the Pi Truck line. I moved about three feet during that time. All of a sudden, the girl about three people in front of me saw some friends and called them over. She was going to order for about 5 people so they didn’t have to stand in line. For real!

    As I cut my losses and walked out of line, I noticed the guy crossing off the pizza I wanted (at about 12:15) from the menu as sold out. Five minutes later, I had lunch from Wasabi and it was cheaper than the Pi Truck.

    Food trucks, learn some customer service!

    • Each food truck should employ a line facilitator?

      I’m just fascinated by the psychology of a food truck line vs a restaurant line. I mean, if someone tried to pull this crap at Chipotle during lunch rush, people would threaten with plastic knives or something.

      • Why? I see people do this all the time at places like Chipotle. Either that, or they order for someone else. Who gives a shit?

        • “Who gives a shit?”

          are we reading the same thread?

        • Yeah, I thought this was normal and accepted. But then, I don’t think I’ve ever been to a place during the lunch rush.

    • Why is it so hard? Uhh… because it’s a tiny “kitchen” with far fewer staff than are generally working at a brick and mortar shop

  • That’s rich! 3 people get to cut a huge line and then b*tch because someone insists that they move back 1 space. They are lucky someone further back didn’t make them go to the back of the line.

    Sorry, ysb @2:28. This isn’t about having friends, it’s about you and your friends being inconsiderate a$$es. Just another of endless examples of people who think their time is more valuable than anyone else’s.

    • You misread Marcus, I believe.
      He’s not saying that HIS time is more valuable than everybody else’s. He’s saying that all our time should be considered equally valuable, so quit cutting in line.

      It’s just inconsiderate, no matter how you cut it.

      • But, all of our time is not equally valuable. That is why some people get paid more than others.

        • Irrelevant as it relates to Marcus’ comment and your response to it.
          Also, I disagree that the value of a person’s time is a true and direct correlation to income.

        • I agree. I actually get paid alot, and yet here I am.

        • your sweaty ballsack is reading comprehension fail all day long. hate to think somebody’s paying you for that.

    • it’s amazing how misled one person can be.

  • I know everybody is DC is new to food trucks, but the slow moving line is kind of an unavoidable part of the experience. Life is about tradeoffs.

    • thanks for your comment, your sweaty ballsack. if I could count on any response, it would be some non-sequitur hyperbole. true, lines exist in any shop (not that I denied that anywhere). however, slow moving lines are endemic to food trucks. it’s a function of little to no operating space.

      • Sorry for my apparent confusion. I guess you are right: food trucks do not exist anywhere else in the United States.

        • “I know everybody [in] DC is new to food trucks”

          would actually imply that food trucks exist elsewhere. reading comprehension fail.

  • To me there’s a different between ordering for friends and having them cut in line. Frequently one of the slower parts of the food truck process (or restaurant or movie or whatever) is the payment. If one person pays for all their friends, it’s a lot quicker than 5 people paying a row.

    I understand that there are more important things to worry about in the world, but I agree I’d be pissed if I waited in a line and a group just blatantly disregarded that.

  • My two cents is that 3 is too many people to cut in line. I understand you want to talk with your friends but the three of them certainly won’t be lonely in the back of the line and you can join them when you are done ordering. The argument the one would have ordered for the 4 any doesn’t hold water either. How are we to know that? I can not read minds. They might have just been wandering by and have no idea what line they are in and are going to take 3 minutes deciding between the 5 items on the menu. Who is to know?

    I will allow one person to join a friend. This seem reasonable. 2 is pushing it if both are able bodied adults. 3 the optics is just that of being inconsiderate rightly or wrongly.

    • my first time at the columbia heights giant, a woman held places in the checkout line for three of her friends…who brought their shopping carts and budged everyone and all checked out separately. it was really bizarre.

  • People holding places for others in line should wear a sign saying “I am Spartacus (x3).”

  • It could be worse. It could be like this:

    We’re all getting hotdogs! What you think there’s two lines, we’re all in this line and you’re the only genious that got in the other line? (to people in her line) Can you believe this guy?

    (People in the back of the line Liz is standing in then move in behind the Line-cheater)

    Liz: Don’t line up behind him, he cheated you!!

    Line-cheater: Hey shut up!

    Liz: No! (to vendor) Now I want all the hotdogs please, yeah I’m buying all the hotdogs.

    People in Line: Come on lady! That is rediculous!

    Liz: I’m giving them to the good people!! (indicating people in her own line)

  • I think this would have been less of an issue if 3 of the friends were in line and they let their fourth friend cut in late. But one person letting 3 cut is a much more disturbing ratio.

  • Simple rule – cutters are prohibited from collectively ordering more food than the person who was “place holding” for them can carry alone.

    • This discriminates against the Olsen twins and creates an unfair advantage for people with junk in the trunk.

  • Normally, I wouldn’t get worked up over the lunch-truck line cutters. But recently this happened directly in front of me in the PORC line, and then the cutter snagged the last pulled-pork sandwich! Khaaaaaaaaaaaan!!!

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