Hate/Love

Things I HATE about working at an Asian restaurant in a rural town:

1. Yes, those “chippy things” as you call them (Fried Noodles) are
free. No, you shouldn’t ask for 4 refills on the bowls of ‘em.
2. When I ask you what you want to drink, that includes the hot tea…
which is a DRINK that you DRINK. So when I come back with your waters
and you crinkle you eyebrows at me and ask “Don’t we get tea?”, well
that was included in what I meant when I asked you “What would you
like to DRINK?”
3. Your soup is cold, m’am, because you sat and talked to your friend
for 20 minutes before deciding to notice it was there. Yes I will heat
it up for you in the microwave, aka. dump it back in the pot and
refill your bowl.
4. Yes, if it has a little picture of a pepper next to it, that means
it’s spicy. And don’t ask me “how spicy”, just so you have an excuse
to send it back for something else when you decide it’s too spicy for
you. It’s medium spicy. You decide where that puts you!
5. Yes, we are serving sushi. There’s no need to ask me every time you
come in. When have we ever STOPPED serving sushi? This is a
Chinese/Japanese restaurant. Does Taco Bell suddenly run out of
Mexican food? I think not.
6. No, I do not know “the numbers”. So when you ask me for number 87,
that does not immediately translate to Kung Po chicken in my mind. Do
I look like I have the time or interest in learning which number
corresponds with all 178 items on our menu? Fuck the numbers, just
tell me what you want to eat!!!

Things I LOVE about working at an Asian restaurant in a rural town:

1. “No sir, there’s no mistaking the screams you hear coming from the
kitchen. You’ve up and pissed off the cook. And he can yell whatever
he wants about you, because you cannot understand a word of Chinese.
And therefore you cannot reasonably complain to the manager about it.
Actually, the manager is right over there. Yes, he’s the one who is
laughing uncontrollably at the cooks rant. That sneaking suspicion you
have that he is actually laughing at YOU, well you were right, though
you’ll never be quite sure of it. Perhaps you shouldn’t have sent your
appetizer back to the kitchen. Yes, you may want to abandon this meal
right now.”
2. The little red envelope I get every Chinese New Year. Yea, it’s got
cash in it.
3. “Take it, take it home!” I hear this everyday from my bosses wife.
Most Chinese folk are pretty generous by American standards. Always
GIVING me stuff. Vegetables, shoe catalogs, silverware, whatever.
Nice.
4. Along the same lines as the generosity mentioned above, there is no
20% discount at a Chinese restaurant (at least not mine). There is
only a 100% discount.
5. I get to make the craziest sounds come out of my mouth when I turn
English words into the version understandable to non-English speakers
in the kitchen. ie. House Salad turns into “HOS SALA!” And I’m not
even kidding or attempting to be “racist” in anyway. I myself come
from a family of non-English speakers. It’s just funny as hell to hear
myself saying shit like “CHEE WONTA!”… Cheese Wontons… because
when it gets busy, you do what you have to to communicate.

It’s the small things in life, right? I tend to try and focus on the
latter half of this post, as customers are ridiculous no matter where
you work.

-At Your Service

3 Comments

  • Xiao Gou

    May 16, 2010

    I loved this piece.

    I’ve spent the last 18 years of my 32-year restaurant career operating Asian-Fusion restaurants. The Chinese people (particularly the Taiwanese) are wonderful, warm-hearted, generous folks (who know how to eat!).

    The by-the-numbers folks aren’t so bad. They’re part of the older crowd who’re used to the Chinese restaurant workers memorizing the numbers because of difficulties with the English translations of familiar dishes. I can tell you, however, that I’ve never managed to memorize any but the most popular dishes by number.

    You don’t say whether you’re of Asian heritage or not. I’m caucasian, and to this day get bone-heads who walk into the place expecting an Asian manager, take one look at my pasty white skin and round eyes, and think they’re clever: “funny, you don’t *look* Chinese.” Without skipping a beat I reply “oh, but yes, sir, I am. I was disfigured in a horrible accident.” That usually shuts these jokers up.

  • At Your Service

    May 16, 2010

    I do love the people I work for, I can definitely say I’ve never worked for better people.

    I am not Asian, and I do get the occasional “Have you been to China? Do you speak Chinese?” I tell them I know the Chinese words for “General Tso’s, Broccoli, Steamed Dumplings, Fried Dumplings, Edamame, chicken, beef, shrimp, etc. But no, I don’t speak Chinese and I’ve never been to China- yet!”

    Most people are so surprised when they hear that I work for a Chinese/Japanese restaurant. They assume that the Chinese proprietors would rather “stick with their own kind” (I work/live out in the sticks, everyone is ignorant here). And I’ve even had white customers tell me “You don’t know what a relief it is to come in and see an American person working here!”

  • Ferocious kitty

    January 7, 2011

    LOL At Your Service.

    I worked for a japanese fast food joint and it was owned by a chinese couple and run by mainly mexicans. They didn’t care how many people worked in a shift but if they stopped by no matter what time everyone should be doing something. The first person to spot them would call it out and you’d suddenly find something to do.

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