A Seattle food truck is gaining fans and going viral after posting an extremely relatable sign about mask-wearing.
Evan, who asked that he only be identified by his first name due to threats he has received related to the sign, said that he opened his food truck Swine and Steel just three months before the pandemic started. Earlier in the pandemic, he posted smaller signs about masking but still had multiple customers coming up to his truck unmasked each day. He ended up settling on a larger, more striking sign.
"Masks go over mouth & nose," reads the sign, made up of six sheets of paper taped together. "It's been a year, I could potty train a dog faster than this."
In smaller text, Evan addressed excuses that he says he frequently hears from those who don't want to wear masks.
"I forgot it, go get it," reads the lower half of the sign. "You won't hear me, be louder. I can't breathe, grow up!"
"People didn't pay attention to (smaller) signs … After a year and 400,000 dead Americans and counting, I have to worry about my wife who's immunocompromised. I have to worry about my one employee and her spouse, and I have to worry about every customer that comes after some selfish person who thinks that their needs are the only ones that matter, and I just couldn't handle it anymore," Evan told TODAY Food. "So I made a bigger sign that made how I felt crystal-clear."
Pictures of the sign, shared on Twitter by a friend of Evan's, quickly went viral: The original post garnered over 250,000 likes and was retweeted over 50,000 times. Evan said he was shocked to see the image gain that kind of attention.
"We're a two-person food truck, who up until this week had about 30 followers on Twitter," Evan said. "It's been an effort to respond to everybody, but every time I see somebody say, 'I wish I could put this up at work,' I (respond) back and say, 'Hey, do it, I'll waive copyright claims.' That's a little cheeky, but apparently that's my brand now."
The friend who shared the post, Kyle Dybdal, said that he wanted to use his already-large Twitter platform to elevate Evan's food truck and the sign's message.
"When Evan posted his picture in our small group chat of friends, I knew immediately that it would resonate with people online," Dybdal told TODAY. "As friends who want to see our friends succeed, it's not always easy to figure out how to materially support them, but I love Evan, I love his food … I love his truck, I love the sign, and I wanted to share all those things with the world."
However, not all of the responses have been so positive: Evan said that he has gotten an "expletive-filled voicemail" and received a "number of threatening phone calls and e-mails" since the sign went viral.
"It's a store policy for a truck that they (may have) never been to in a city they (might not) live in," he said. "It doesn't affect their lives, but they're so mad about it."
Evan said that he thinks the massive response comes from a collective feeling of exhaustion as the pandemic continues.
"I would say (a customer approaches the truck without a mask) two or three times a day, but I feel like it's cumulative," he said. "Each little tiny amount of nuisance just kind of adds up in your frustration … A lot of the responses I've been getting online are people saying they have (respiratory conditions) and still wear their masks, and (they're) tired of these people's nonsense."
"A lot of us are very tired of this nonsense," he continued. "Especially those of us who work in the service industry, who are not seen as a person, but just a thing that's there to serve you."
The sign has gotten so popular that Evan has even started selling masks and shirts featuring the "Masks go over mouth & nose" language; he said that there have been several dozen purchases of that merchandise.
"If everybody knows me as the sarcastic pork truck guy, I'm just going to lean into that," he said. "I can't afford to buy a new house in Hawaii or anything, but we've sold a couple dozen shirts and masks … If you're just a random food truck from Seattle, that's kind of impressive."
While he's enjoying the newfound fame, Evan hopes that people will remember the sign's message.
"We're all in this together," Evan said. "Wear your damn mask."