Moses "Moishe" Katz, who has provided Middle Eastern lunch delicacies to members of the MIT community on the run for 22 years, plans to be back behind the grill in his van shortly, as quick-witted as ever if perhaps a bit less nimble.
"Tell my friends at MIT that I'll be okay and I'll be back soon," said Mr. Katz, who suffered a severe leg injury in a freak accident Saturday afternoon while manning his Such a Deal falafel and hummus truck regularly parked just south of the 77 Massachusetts Avenue entrance to MIT. He was taken to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Traffic was shut down in both directions on Massachusetts Avenue and Memorial Drive until the ambulance departed.
At the time, MIT Campus Police reported, he appeared to have a serious leg injury and "extreme deformity to the left leg at the knee." He thought for sure that he would lose the leg.
"It's not as bad as I expected," said Mr. Katz, who will undergo surgery to repair the knee later this week. "Itï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½popped back by itself."
Mr. Katz, speaking by phone from his hospital room on Monday, said he noticed the unmanned truck moving at about 5pm while he was on the sidewalk, talking with an employee.
"I tried to jump in and stop it, but I wasn't fast enough," he said. He fell to the ground while the truck kept spinning, he said, and somehow made it to the grass in front of Building 9. Campus Police found him face down behind the shrubs, his truck in the roadway facing the sidewalk. A bystander had turned off the ignition once the truck stopped spinning.
"I got lucky," said Mr. Katz, who expects to be released from the hospital next week. "I guess I'm more lucky than smart."
Mr. Katz, a native of Tel Aviv, arrived on campus with the class of 1980 and never left. The proprietor of the falafel truck as well Moishe's Chicken in front of Building 20 is known for his gruff bantering and his constant exhortations to customers to announce: "Such a deal!"
Before hanging up, Mr. Katz wanted to remind his loyal customers that both trucks would continue to provide sustenance during his absence. Such a deal.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on November 4, 1998.