The above two pictures I took while at Farragut Square in Washington DC today. To the naked eye, there is nothing remarkable going on in these pictures. It’s just people ordering food from trucks. We see this all the time in cities across the world. What’s so special about this?
The reality is there is nothing special per se, but there is something miraculous: These food trucks appeared to feed the hungry people of Farragut Square, not by diktat but by spontaneous order. No one in Washington City Hall or Congress said “There will be people at Farragut Square around lunch time. They will need something to eat. Dispatch exactly 8 food trucks to the area!” No, as if guided by some invisible hand, the owners of the food trucks knew where to set up in order to maximize their exposure (and furthermore serve!) the hungry people of DC. And after the lunch rush, they closed up and went to go serve some other group in another part of the city.
But that is just part of the miracle happening here. Look at the people. What do you see? To the quick observer, it looks chaotic: a bunch of people running around, eating and ordering. But, if I recorded a video, you’d see it’s very orderly. People form lines to order their food, and then move to the grassy area or back of the sidewalk to wait for their food. There are no signs, no police, no instructions of any kind enforcing this. It is merely the law of the food trucks. Even I, a newcomer to this culture, could not turn away from this law. Just as a spontaneous order developed to bring the food trucks to Farragut Square, so did an order emerge with the patrons. No design necessary.
It is truly amazing to think this came about without any conscience thought, any planner, and yet here it is.