cheesecake riots

Andrew Rose (arose@macromedia.com)
Thu, 9 Apr 1998 13:41:38 -0700


From: Bree Wellwood <bwellwoo@sfu.ca>

Bree, we had similar problems at SF FNB with the Wednesday Cheesecake
deliveries, where I was actually lifted off my feet once by the press of
the crowd.

I definitely felt reluctant to "make rules" but things were out of hand.
When Odwalla was donating juice daily, I also had the same problem.

I started to rely on kindergarten training that almost everyone has, which
is how to "make a line".  I'd pull up, get out of the car, go to the crowd
and say what kind of things I had and that the line starts here.  After
people queued, I'd get the stuff.   There was some wierd energy about
respecting eachother and respecting "the line" and behaving in an organized
way that was interesting to notice.

This is a very funky dynamic because there are always line breakers and
people freaked out and people that say "fuck the line" and go up front and
take stuff, and this causes tension with the folks that are in line.  But
it is way better than the alternative, which is the strong take everything.

Those moments of tension are actually super instructive and it is much
better to "handle" a line breaker than to punish or get made at them.  They
usually catch a lot of shit for acting out this way from the people and it
should NOT come from FNB people.  After they get there stuff and things are
calmer you can approach them and usually get an earful of what's bugging
them.

Also, I had never "addressed the group" before and that took standing on a
box and yelling and a bunch of things fairly foreign to what FNB is about.

Note that things got A LOT better in time.  After a while people would
queue up when they saw my car.

There is another big problem with multiple lines (one for bread, one for
soup) where now we have ONE LINE and you get bread when you get soup.  This
is tough, it means rationing, but everybody gets some, and you can say
things like "People who haven't had firsts come to the front"  etc.

-a

 Before they can even put down boxes, hand are reaching
>in grabbing bags of goodies, clocking people with bags of apples and
>nearly pushing them over.  Now, we don't want to get harsh and create
>rules, but these violent scrums have got to stop.  People get scared,
>tempers flare, some of the older people who come don't get anything etc.
>Also, we don't want to be telling people how much they should take, we
>don't know how many mouths they are feeding, but when some people get six
>cabbages, a case of tofu cheese, a stach of fake meats and a 1 lb bag of
>apples and other people get nothing, it is kind of frustrating.  Is there
>something we can add to the food to make people considerate and
>respectful?  Has any one ever had this problem?  How did you deal, any
>suggestions?  Later hey,
>Bree
>