AND THE COMMENTS ARE MORE THAN HALF THE FUN.
Once upon a time, so long ago that I don’t remember the exact year except that it was between 1988 and 1993, my best friend Terri and I went to our favorite Chinese restaurant in
It was not our favorite Chinese restaurant because of the quality of the food (Good Lord no) but because it was open until 4 o’clock in the morning and it was cheap. I worked until 11pm at a hotel and I think Terri might have worked a late shift at Fred Meyer but for whatever reason we were out late that night, telling stories and venting about our crappy jobs and crappy lives (although neither of us had it all that bad, really).
All Chinese restaurants in
This is all part of the social contract between Chinese restaurants and their customers in my home town. We expect this. What we don’t expect is what happened at this particular meal.
I ordered a combination meal, one of the six or so combination meals on the menu. The combination comes with whatever entrée you select accompanied by pork fried rice and an egg roll. I vaguely remember ordering Combination B (or whatever its designation) which was Kung-Pao chicken. Terri looked the menu over and pointed to the combination section and said she would like the breaded almond chicken.
Minutes later our order arrived and was thudded down onto our table by the waitress/hostess/owner who spun quickly and returned to her opium den or illegal gambling parlor or whatever she runs in the back room of the restaurant. My plate of food was as ordered: chicken, rice, and the perfect looking but utterly inedible egg roll. Terri’s plate was piled high with breaded almond chicken but no rice and no egg roll.
Terri is very articulate and is not afraid to speak up when an incorrect order is delivered. She waited to get the attention of the evil Korean woman and, upon doing so, flagged her over to our table.
“I ordered the breaded almond chicken but I did not get my rice and egg roll.”
“You order a la carte.”
“Well, I pointed to the combination but I guess there was a misunderstanding. I’d like the breaded almond chicken combina-“
The evil Korean woman stopped her with an evil glare, bent over so as to get inches from Terri’s face (so much so that Terri shrank back a little) and nearly screamed, “THAT’S NOT WHAT YOU ORDER!” She then spun around and returned to her opium gambling operation in back.
Most folks would describe Terri as unflappable but that night I witnessed her being flapped by a Korean woman. Shaking off the flapping, Terri’s posture returned to normal – although a very angry normal. Very quietly and very calmly she locked eyes with me and said “you are NOT leaving that woman a tip.”
For dog’s sake, I worked at a hotel where many of my coworkers relied heavily on tips so I usually tip very well for good service and no less than 15% for reasonably bad service. Plus I am not one to make a scene. Looking Terri in the eye, however, I knew that I was not leaving the woman a tip even if it meant she followed us into the parking lot screaming and chasing us with a cleaver, which at one o’clock in the morning was a distinct possibility. I thought of the cleaver wielding evil Korean woman and I knew that any amount of cleaver damage inflicted upon me would pale in comparison to what Terri would do to me if I put a single rusty dime on the table.
We ate our meal and we skeedaddled out of there. Okay, I skeedaddled and Terri walked slowly and purposefully out. If anything Terri wanted it abundantly clear there was no tip on the table, daring anyone to comment on it or even look at us wrong. I didn’t know what was going to happen if there was a scene but I imagined a full-on hair-pulling cleaver fight which would end in my best friend going to jail, the evil Korean woman going to the hospital, and me being burned by a hurled bowl of hot and sour soup.
I hate hot and sour soup.
There was no scene and we never ate at that restaurant again. I did learn a valuable lesson though: Order carefully at restaurants – using the appropriate number or letter if they have them on the menu. Also: flap Terri once and it’s on her, flap her twice and you might very well kiss your gyoza goodbye.
This was only one of my restaurant adventures with Terri. Next time: The fickle finger of fate at the pancake house.
* This reminds me of a shorter but equally funny story which involves Korean hostesses and Chinese restaurants in Anchorage. I went with my parents to the Asia Gardens restaurant. What is it with those folks and gardens anyway? After being seated, the waitress/hostess/owner/opium den proprietor asked my dad what beverage he preferred by saying "And you sir?" My dad, in his charming way, told her that she didn't have to call him "sir." Without missing a beat, the hostess said "Oh, radda I call you ass-ho? Ha-ha!" We were all flapped on that one. Silence hung in the air until my mom and I, followed quickly by dad, burst into uproarious laughter. I think I nearly passed out. Now that restaurant earned many return visits.