COLUMBIA — A stroll down Ninth Street often brings familiar sights and sounds to the senses. Thanks to the warm weather there is a new sense to encounter: the smell of freshly grilled hot dogs sold by James "Trey" Aldridge III.
“The first thing that happens to a person is they smell me," Aldridge said. "They don’t see me, a lot of times they smell me first."
A native of Kansas City, Aldridge is a fourth year MU philosophy student. He was hired in May by the Gold Nugget Popcorn Company as a hot dog vendor. With Columbia’s unemployment rate on the rise, Aldridge was happy to find a summer job.
He particularly enjoys talking to customers and finding ways to relate to them.
“I don’t really get anybody who’s being rude," he said. "You know they’re just having a good time, wanting to get some food, and I’m more than happy to serve ’em."
And he does. Aldridge sells hot dogs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and also has a night shift on Thursdays and Fridays that can run from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m.
When asked how he handles the summer heat while working, Aldridge replied, “with a smile on my face.” As a former football player in high school, he says he is used to hot days in the sun, and he tries to stay hydrated.
“My parents are back home in Kansas City," Aldridge said. "I kind of fend for myself really. They help me out here and there, but mostly I’m helping myself out, paying my bills."
Bills and rent payments are the main reason Aldridge was looking for summer employment. He said he hopes to be able to continue the job.
“It’s a fun job.”