At this point, I’ve helped run more Fresh Market Pop-Ups than I can count. In every space we’ve entered, without exception, there have been staff, volunteers, or customers to receive us. Those folks all love Ed, my powerhouse of a coworker who moves produce to and from our production facility day in and day out. What’s more, even when we enter a space for the second or third time, community members still unfamiliar to me come out of the woodwork to greet Ed. My point in saying all this is that Ed, despite being only four years older than me, maintained the connection between the business and its community single-handedly. It’s almost as if his skill in community building is proportional to his muscle mass (dude is huge).
The volunteers are always a little bit disappointed not to see Ed or to only see him for a short time. It makes me eager to build relationships with those same team members and put them in my corner like Ed seems to do so effortlessly. One of our pop-ups is out in a YMCA in Macomb, and there are two older women who run the pop-up there in our stead. Emma, Ed, and I have to run off to a pop-up farther out in a facility called ARC of Macomb, a facility that assists, supports, and cares for the developmentally disabled. Near the end of our time at ARC one day, Ed approaches Emma and I apprehensively, beginning with, “Alright y’all, this is gonna sound mean.” Imagine, for a moment, a dude with piercings, tattoos, a bald fade, facial hair, and huge arms worrying about hurting anyone’s feelings. Nonetheless, it was exactly that: he told us that one of the women at the Y by the name of Virginia talks his ear off relentlessly, and he needed one of us to distract her so that he could get to the last pop-up site and pick up the produce. Emma and I chuckled heartily, and we agreed to help out. When we actually arrived, we were in and out, though Ed remained stone-faced the whole time. While we were moving the food back into the truck, I turned to him and said, “Man, she hardly said two words to us,” and Ed whined, “THIS TIME!”
This man was a star linebacker in high school, and the thing that scares him the most is a little white lady elevator pitching him her peach pie.