Summer in New York City means many things: hot, sticky weather, water of unknown provenance falling on your head and the ice cream truck jingle slowly driving you insane. But we're not suffering through that ear worm alone, as the folks who drive the trucks are equally plagued by the jaunty jingle. "I hear them bells when they're off, I hear them in my sleep, I hear them when I lay down," says Victor, an ice cream truck vendor who parks near Williamsburg's East River State Park. See? It could always be worse.
During the warm seasons, Victor drives around the Greenpoint and Williamsburg neighborhoods to peddle frozen treats to kids and other folks seeking a sugary respite from the heat. Videographer Jessica Leibowitz spent an afternoon with Victor as he went about his routine and tried to keep soft serve intact on a hot afternoon. In addition to melting ice cream, the native New Yorker faces competition from rival ice cream trucks and criticism from passersby who aren't afraid to tell him how they feel.
"Some don't like me because of the bells. You've got guys coming up to me telling me to turn my music off or, 'We don't want you over here,' my truck is an eyesore, I'm polluting the neighborhood with my generator," he says. "That's the stuff I hear from them every day." To put up with all that, Victor gets 25% of whatever he sells during the day, which could be $200 on a good day, or less than that Monday through Friday. After five years, he says this will be his last season with the truck.
Despite the frustrations of daily life in the truck, it's bringing a smile to children's faces that makes the reward worth the stress. "It's a great feeling. You've got crying kids, they stop crying."