by P. J. McNeal, The Chicago Times
CHICAGO – Peanuts! Peanuts! Hot Dog! Hot Dog! . . . Gone are the days when vendors at Wrigley Field will be allowed to hustle their goods with the familiar shouting of menu items to hungry fans.
Cubs officials have spread the social distancing rules of COVID thickly over what used to be part of a now fading National Past-Time. Boisterous vendors will be absent from the aisles and fans…will be seated in “pods” of space.
Vendors will now carry food and beverages to fans from the concourse. The good news is all transactions will be cashless, not free, but paid without paper currency; a once familiar medium of exchange for people born in the time Wrigley still had painted troughs. The Wrigley math wizards calculate that one food runner will serve 300 fans.
Many veteran vendors are not returning this year fearing loss of revenue and of course COVID. As a result, Levy Restaurants is hiring a new generation of vendors that mostly will not recognize paper money. Vendors not returning will be allowed to bid again as the season continues.
Most vendors rely on tips, but the cashless system will hinder some patrons from giving generous tips, not to mention the obvious thrill of receiving folded paper bills over the course of the game. The more money in vendors’ pockets the more colorful they sell their goods which adds to the experience a fan pays dearly for these days. Now it will be as quiet as the digital exchange of money rather than the rustle of bills being rubbed together.