SEATTLE (AP) – Tomás López did not prepare the tacos he sold at his family’s mobile food stand, but it was the image of the business.
He attended to his clients sitting at a table next to the vehicle in the South Lake Union neighborhood of Seattle. He always had a wad of bills to turn around and a couple of credit card readers to collect from a loyal clientele of Amazon employees, construction workers, and a long-standing journalist. He received them all with a smile.RELATED
“Hello Friend. A super roast beef burrito? How many? Only one?”.
“Hello Friend. Are you not going to yoga today? You must be hungry! ”
“Hello Friend. How many boys does he have, both of them always? It’s okay. Has time. I have five ”.
López, 44, died on April 2 after contracting COVID-19. His death was mourned by many people who knew him as he passed, for which his food stall and cheerful conversation were one of the best moments of his day.
He had arrived from the Mexican state of Hidalgo, north of Mexico City. His town, Dengando, is so small that it doesn’t even appear on the maps, according to one of his children, Isaac López, 19. As a child, López tended his father’s sheep and cows. He played soccer with a ball made of plastic bags and rubber bands. He was kicking her against an arch he had drawn on a wall.
At the age of 15, he went to Mexico City, where he joined the armed forces, where he played the drum. He did this along with about 30 soldiers at military ceremonies, according to Isaac.
He came to the United States in 1998, in his twenties. He worked two years in the tomato and other crop crops in Oregon and then in construction. He always called Antonia Zamorano, the girl he had met when she brought food to the peons of her uncle’s farm. He returned to Mexico to marry her and brought her to the United States.
Antonia began preparing food to sell from a family minivan to construction workers. The business grew and they bought a small truck, then another and a restaurant in Algona, near the small town of Pacific, where they lived.
Tacos El Tajín, the family business, was one of the first mobile food trucks that was installed in front of a half desert sector where Amazon opened its headquarters a decade ago. The company employees and workers who build its campus were a constant clientele. They were attracted by the joviality of López and the quality of the food.
López loved what he did, according to Isaac. She learned a few phrases in German, Japanese, Hindi, Urdu, and other languages to communicate with Amazon’s international workforce. In February 2017, the Tacos El Tajín truck was involved in a traffic jam on Interstate 5. Unable to get to Seattle, López opened his stall on the highway and began selling tacos, to the satisfaction of the frustrated. conductors.
“Sometimes all you need to be happy is a taco,” López joked.
Seth Myers, popular host of a late-night television program, found out about what happened and said that “nothing speeds up traffic more than a block.”
His clients’ affection for López became evident when Isaac started raising funds for the funeral and to keep the business afloat. The goal was to raise $ 10,000, but the initiative generated six times that amount. More than 1,400 people contributed money, many of whom also expressed the joy that López gave them and mentioned that he gave burgers or a drink to the homeless in exchange for a handshake.
One of the clients who contributed money said that Tacos El Tajín was “an injection of optimism in the middle of the day.”
Isaac said his father was picky and made sure his family got up at five in the morning to start cooking.
López very much enjoyed the time he spent with his children, who are 12 to 26 years old. He took them to the Space Needle, to play chess or basketball and to watch boxing matches. Isaac and López sometimes played soccer on Sunday afternoons. López had his prominent waist and rivals were often surprised at how good the ball was, according to his son.
Isaac was the one who took orders, cooked and taught employees how to prepare the dishes, and his father planned to give him a more prominent role in the business.
“Now I don’t have it here and I have to help my mother with the business,” said Isaac. “I wish he could have taught me a little more.”