Members of Second Harvest’s Communications team, those same people who “manage” the myth of social media legend Warehouse Will, sat down with the aforementioned star to provide some insight into the man behind the pictures posed with produce. The interview is published in its original, haphazard and circuitous form.
Communications Team: You know you’re being recorded, so I don’t have to legally tell you you’re being recorded. State your name for the record, please.
Warehouse Will: John William Hospers aka “Warehouse Will”.
CT: John William Hospers… why do you go by an assumed name? Why not John?
WW: Because everybody’s named John.
CT: Makes sense.
WW: Will has a little character, right? (No offense to Johns out there!)
CT: So who is Warehouse Will?
WW: Who is Warehouse Will?
CT: Yeah, you play this role on Instagram, but what do you think… Is Warehouse Will you all the time or is it not you all the time? There’s definitely been times where Warehouse Will has been locked in a freezer or the door’s been closed on him while he’s carrying stuff.
WW: Sure. I haven’t thought too much about whether Warehouse Will is a separate entity from Will Will. I think we’re one and the same. You’re just capturing little pieces of what I do in my day to day, whether it’s in the freezer or it’s in the cooler. I’m holding pieces of produce or chicken.
CT: Do you feel like that bleeds over into your real life? At home, do you carry around fruit?
WW: I don’t. No one’s taken pictures of me at home.
CT: You don’t pose in front of the mirror and hold up an apple or something?
CT: Why are you Warehouse Will? What is Warehouse Will?
WW: Because it’s alliterative and it’s a very good… name. And because I’m always in the warehouse. It’s absolutely essential to my job.
CT: What’s your job?
WW: As Inventory Coordinator I have to do inventory control. I have to make sure that all our produce inventory is accurate for distribution. Cause that’s also what I do. I allocate our entire produce inventory. Manage it. Make sure it gets out in a timely fashion.
CT: All the produce for Second Harvest come to the Cypress Center (Second Harvest’s North San Jose warehouse)?
WW: The vast vast majority.
CT: Do you like it in the warehouse? I understand it’s a fundamental aspect of your job.
WW: Yeah, I’m happy in the warehouse, moving around, inspecting things, seeing it first-hand, rather than getting information by email or something.
CT: You mean, instead of someone calling you on a walkie-talkie saying “These broccoli don’t smell too good”?
WW: Yeah. Or some facility is doing this or that. I need to be able to touch and smell things if there are problems.
CT: So in a larger-scale operation you wouldn’t necessarily be able to see the problems, you’d have to hear about them and get photos? It could be done remotely?
WW: I think it’s a great help to be right on top of it.
CT: When did you learn to juggle?
WW: Probably sometime in high school. I just taught myself.
CT: I don’t understand juggling. What are you doing? Explain to me, you’re throwing one, catching one, and one’s in mid-air all at the same time?
CT: I don’t get… how did you even figure that out?
WW: I watched something. And I had three objects and… well…
CT: You just started juggling?
CT: I don’t believe that. That’s at least the first lie of the interview, if not the second.
WW: Is this like two-truths and a lie?
CT: I don’t know. Whatever you want it to be. What’s a typical day like for you? You come in and what do you do? You sit down and you wait for us to come calling for Instagram pictures?
Warehouse Will laughs.
WW: (laughs) I think that’s pretty much it.
CT: I’d hate to over-simplify your job.
WW: First thing I do is my inventory control phase, every day. I do my cycle counts.
CT: What’s a cycle count?
WW: A cycle count is when you’re counting portions of your inventory, every day, with the idea that you’re cycling through your entire inventory in a given period of time. So, my given period of time is one week. I cycle through my entire inventory, theoretically counting every piece of my inventory, every week.
CT: And you’re not opening every box and counting every piece of broccoli, right?
WW: No. I’m counting every case or bin.
CT: OK, so after you count your cycles, then what do you do, in the morning?
WW: Then I start working on our distribution. All our menus for the night’s pick, which is the next day’s delivery.
CT: What’s a menu?
WW: A menu will be, for example: The Family Harvest at Washington United Center. I am responsible for roughly 50-70 pounds of produce for each family. I have to figure out roughly what we have, and how do I get to 50-70 pounds, based on the menu from the Food Bank’s Programs and Services team. They put in the menus and appointments, and I see what’s coming up and I start allocating food.
CT: That’s for the next day?
WW: Yes. Right now I have two days worth of menus. I have tonight’s and tomorrow’s just about ready to go. And that rolls, so, everyday I have two days worth of orders going.
CT: Do you ever feel like today is tomorrow?
WW: All the time. It’s incredibly… when you start really thinking about it, you start twisting your mind into knots.
CT: Right, it’s like Inception in the warehouse. That’s interesting. What hour of the day do you feel the most productive? During the cycle count? In the menu production?
WW: The 8 to 10 am window is go, go, go time. There’s a deadline to get those menus done, because Operations is waiting for that. So if I don’t get that done, then I have many other problems.
CT: Do you wish you were in the warehouse more?
WW: I spend the perfect amount of time in the warehouse. I balance that out with my amazing time in the office, as well. Sitting behind a computer.
CT: When you’re not in the warehouse and not behind a computer, where could one of your fans find you?
WW: Are you asking about when I’m not working?
CT: Yeah, what’s a Warehouse Will haunt?
WW: A coffee shop. That’s a good spot.
CT: You’re a big coffee drinker?
CT: Are you an Ethiopian blend or a French Roast kind of fellow?
WW: I’m not an aficionado. I just enjoy going to a coffee shop, sitting outside, perhaps with a friend, and enjoying the coffee and the conversation.
CT: Is a friend necessary?
CT: Interesting. Do you like to read?
WW: I’m a big reader, yeah.
CT: What kind of books do you read?
CT: Mostly fiction?
WW: Pretty much all fiction. Very little non-fiction. But, all different genres of fiction.
CT: Do you have a favorite Warehouse Will moment? Were you able to go back through them… do you have a photographic memory?
CT: Can you remember some of them?
CT: Is there any that you particularly cared for or that you did not like?
WW: I’ve liked most of them. I think the one that I was the most uncomfortable with was the bok choy post.
CT: Which was the bok choy one?
WW: The silly one with the ears.
CT: I’ve never seen that one.
WW: I might’ve been a little embarrassed by that one. But it was OK at the time.
CT: For a while we were attempting to make subtle pop culture references to various movies.
CT (cont’d): Do you think those posts fell upon deaf ears (eyes)?
CT: Was it the way we marketed it?
WW: It might’ve been ahead of its time.
CT: Do you think we should bring those back?
WW: It’s possible. There’s certainly a lot of opportunity there.
CT: Taking a page from Tiger Beat and Teen Beat magazines, we’d like to know what kind of music you listen to.
WW: Sure, I’m into, what do the kids listen to these days?
Other CT: Drake. Beyonce.
WW: Yeah, definitely… (spoken in a very non-committal tone)
CT: What, do you like Chopin? I don’t understand which way you’re going.
WW: I do like classical music.
Warehouse Will likes Chopin.
CT: What about New Age? Do you like Yanni? Or Enya?
WW: No. I like indie rock. So, Shins, I have a lot of Shins in the old record player.
CT: You have a lot of shins?
WW: I have quite a bit.
CT: I only have two.
WW: I have at least three different albums… The Strokes.
CT: You like The Strokes?
WW: I do, a lot.
CT: How do you feel about the criticism that The Strokes drummer is so perfect he doesn’t sound real? That he might be a robot?
CT: When we flash your picture on the screen, do we say, “Sorry, ladies, he’s taken”?
WW: Single and ready to mingle.
CT: Interesting. If you could sit down and be face to face with your adoring fans, is there anything you’d say to them?
WW: Donate to your Food Bank.
Other CT: Do you have a favorite fruit or vegetable?
WW: I’m a big broccoli fan. Also, pears are my favorite fruit.
CT: You like pears?
WW: Oh, and raspberries. Can I have a berry, too?
CT: Interesting. You can have a berry, also.
WW: Pears are the best.
CT: Do you eat the cores?
WW: I do not. I think it’s strange. The core is almost inedible. And if you eat the seeds, you’ll get a pear tree in your belly.
CT: True. What about the idea and or act of eating the potato skin?
WW: I’m totally OK with that. I love them.
CT: You eat the potato skin?
WW: I do. Especially sweet potato skins.
CT: What about artichoke hearts?
WW: Not a fan. It’s a texture thing. I love the leaves. Not a fan of the hearts.
CT: When you have the leaves, do you dip them in butter or mayonnaise?
WW: The best thing to do is mayonnaise and Worcestershire sauce.
CT: That’s a mixture you make at home?
CT: Have you ever had Just Mayo?
WW: Yeah. It’s OK. I’m OK with that as well with artichokes. Butter, it’s fine, too.
CT: Melted butter or?
WW: Yeah, of course.
CT: Not just a stick of butter that you rub on the leaves?
CT: Do you also deal with the meat that comes through Second Harvest or only produce?
WW: We do a small portion of dry/frozen goods at Cypress. The vast majority of that goes to Brown Bag programs in Santa Clara County. So, yes. But we deal mostly in produce.
CT: Do you feel like that screws up your day when it shows up?
CT: Cause it’s part of the deal?
WW: It’s part of the whole. Part of the deal.
CT: Do you feel like, in the end credits of this interview, we should put “Warehouse Will will return in…” like in the James Bond movies? Is it weird to put Warehouse Will will? Does that sound too odd?
WW: It might be. Maybe in quotation marks?
CT: If you were James Bond, what would your first Bond sequel be called, starring Warehouse Will?
WW: A View To A Will?
CT: Oh, jeez. It doesn’t have to be a pun… Do you like gum?
WW: Big gum fan.
CT: What’s your favorite cuisine? Asian, sushi, Mexican food?
WW: I like all kinds of food.
CT: You like your mom’s cooking?
WW: Of course, who would say no to that question?
CT: Oh, I know a couple of people whose moms are terrible cooks.
Other CT: If your fans wanted to send you gifts, what are things you like to get?
WW: Make checks payable to SHFB? Bring canned food donations.
Other CT: What’s your favorite animal?
WW: Dogs. Domesticated animals, dogs.
CT: What’s your favorite zoo-type animal… or fish?
WW: It wouldn’t be a fish.
CT: What about the octopus? They’re cool.
WW: If it’s marine mammals, it’s the sea otter! Those are fun, I like those. Birds of prey are pretty cool. Hawks.
CT: What would you say to the observation that I feel often goes unnoticed, that the colloquialism “killing two birds with one stone” is an oddly violent thing to say?
WW: When you think about a lot of those adages, they’re very weird.
CT: That one’s pretty violent. I was typing it out the other day in an email and it read so terribly. I thought, why am I typing about killing two birds? Forget about just one. Why am I stoning two birds?
WW: And why the efficiency? You’re going to run out of stones?
CT: Also, odd. Maybe this is a caveman saying. From back when there was so much energy spent trying to get sustenance, you’d love to be able to kill two birds at once with the little amount of stored strength you have left.
WW: Only had the energy to lift one stone.
CT: It’s probably written on a cave wall… You got any good stock tips?
WW: Not right now.
CT: Who’s gonna win the 2017 World Series?
CT: Great. Thanks, Warehouse Will. This really clears up any questions anyone might have about you.
WW: It was my pleasure.