There's a sushi restaurant just a few minutes from where I work. This is awesome for multiple reasons.
1. Crunchy spicy tuna rolls and Miso soup
2. Not in a sushi mood? Well, they serve generously portioned Thai food.
4. Fairly affordable
5. Happy tummy
It's not awesome for these reasons:
My second or third time dining here (and I say second because I barely remember the first), I was on a lunch break with my friend Hannah. We were sat in a booth near the front window (which I presumed was a naturally strategic move to show off customers) and ordered water with lemon. Our waitress, who I'll call Droopy, delivered just water. No lemon. Hey, no big deal. Droopy was generally distant and mechanical. I figured she was one of the owners and if I were her, I'd probably be distant and mechanical too, especially if someone was writing a blog about me and the best name they could come up with was Droopy because of the way my face sagged because I had never learned to smile.
I started to frequent the restaurant perhaps every two weeks or so... sometimes with Hannah and sometimes with my friend Amanda from work. Each time, the service got progressively colder. I found myself at times placing my order to Droopy's back because she had apparently heard enough and decided to walk away before I could finish. Then she would return and it would happen again. And then again. I couldn't understand why she couldn't just stand there like any normal person and wait until I had asked all of my questions. Sometimes, she wouldn't respond at all to us. Our "thank yous" were never returned. If my water glass was empty, well, it just stayed that way. When I asked if I could get a crunchy spicy tuna roll instead of a regular spicy tuna roll she got very indignant and barked at me in her broken English that it would cost more. One time I asked if I could make a substitution in a lunch combination roll and you would have thought I asked her if she was pregnant. "You can't change menu!" She cried angrily. I should have just asked her if she was pregnant to begin with.
It was really starting to gnaw at me why Droopy was unfailingly rude to us, more so to me than to Hannah or Amanda. It couldn't have been because I was Korean because so was Hannah; nor because I was on bad behavior because I didn't dare dig myself into a deeper hole than where I already was. I decided to exercise my right to boycott the place, if only for a little while, because my fake pleasantries were making me so irritable that I think I was beginning to mirror Droopy's face and that was clearly unacceptable. However, my boycott only lasted a week as the next nearest sushi restaurant proved to be sub-par and I realized I was the kind of person that was willing to suffer through the chilliest of service to satisfy a good sushi craving.
I decided to make my subtle comeback by ordering carry out instead of dining in. I placed my order over the phone (at least I couldn't physically see them walking away from me) and went to pick it up. I went into the restaurant prepared, my emotions steeled over. I was ready to fight el bitch to el bitch. Droopy locked eyes with me but didn't say anything. "I have a carryout order," I said flatly. She disappeared to the kitchen, which I took as her acknowledgement, and then returned and sat in the nearest booth. I stood there until the sushi chef, whom I presumed was her husband, came out and placed a box on the counter. Droopy at that time had a few tables and lingered here and there until she printed out my bill and gestured to me that my food was ready. Usually when a receipt prints out, it naturally rolls up into a mini homemade telescope so when this happens the waitress/waiter has a few options:
1. create a crease in the middle to prevent the receipt from curling
2. hold down the receipt for the patron until patron is finished signing
3. place it neatly in a tab holder that does all the work for you
Which one of these options do you think Droopy picked? You're right. None of them. She allowed the receipt to curl up and stood there looking the other way. At this point, my insides are blistering as I'm realizing the immensity of ass-kicking that needed to occur. It took everything in me not to mercilessly rearrange Droopy's face into a fixed permanent smile right then and there. Well, two could play this game. "Where do I sign." I said, knowing full well. She pointed at the curled receipt and looked away again. I was putting her in a headlock in my fantasy and holding her under water in the restaurant aquarium. I started to tell myself that I needed to swallow my pride, angst, bitterness, incomprehension, death stares, and strangling scenarios and
become the bigger person, all in those tense few seconds. I picked up the pen, took a deep breath, smoothed out the receipt, and somehow managed to leave my signature on that piece of paper with a decent carryout tip. As I headed toward the door, I said loudly but meaninglessly: "Thank you." I don't remember if there was any response to my gesture but the entire experience was a crucial wakeup call. Droopy and friends were severely awful people and there was nothing I could do to change that...except maybe that one headlock move--no Kimi--ahem. There was nothing I could do.
Until along came Maria...