The Kung Pao ExceptionPosted: July 29, 2011
You might have noticed that I am big on people treating each other right. Life is too short to fool with someone who is impolite. Usually, if I find a business person unpleasant to deal with I do not patronize their establishment.
I am such a liar sometimes.
I love Chinese food. Chinese food is one of my major food groups. I may actually be Chinese. I don’t think my parents know that. I think that they are proud I am their son and I feel certain they will accept me as their only Asian child.
My parents raised me to stand up for myself and my principles. Mom and Dad, when you read this, I hope you know that I mostly do what you taught me. There’s this exception though. The Kung Pao exception.
Where there is good Chinese food, there is room for compromise on my principles. Where the Kung Pao Chicken is exceptional, I am willing to deal with indignity and rudeness that I could never tolerate in any other arena. I can not explain this. I can’t even think of a similar exception in any part of my life.
New Chinese Take Out, New Indignities.
Not long ago, a new Chinese restaurant opened near my house. The food is so good that if I went in there to pick up dinner and the owners beat me with heavy chains (which I think we can all agree is very rude) I would call in another order as soon as I healed enough to drive myself back over there and get it. I don’t care how they treat me, I just want my fix.
As best I can tell, the place is run by four people – two men and two women. I have never seen any other people behind the counter. In my mind, I have made them the sole owners of this establishment and have paired them off into couples. It does not matter which couple is working when I go in, the man is always cooking, the woman is taking orders and running the register.
Walking into this place is like walking in to hell. It is always unspeakably hot. Nothing but the front counter separates customers from the kitchen where huge flames erupt from the giant woks. I know there is a cooling system in the place because I can see a thermostat on the wall. I also know that they do not use the cooling system because it is so hot in there that I start sweating when I call my order in from home. When I arrive to get my food, I open the door and get blasted by the heat pouring out. Even on a 95 degree day, I feel cooler when I walk back out to my car. It is hot in there.
The people are ridiculously rude. They are so over the top in the brusque way they interact with their customers that the rudeness almost becomes luxurious. Customers are greeted with a contemptuous stare and dismissed with a handful of change and a fast bye-bye. Smiles and waves are never returned.
Once, I was too eager to bask in the rudeness and partake in the deliciousness. I went to the counter. The woman looked in the notebook she takes orders in, had a conversation with the man in the kitchen then turned to me and said SIT! Nothing more. SIT! I sat and thought I would never have put up with that anywhere else, then I waited patiently until she slammed my order on the counter and dismissed me.
I could go on and on about how harsh the people who run this place are. Please know that I am saying that after factoring in that they are very new to the US and that things I do would be considered rude in their home nation. This is rudeness that transcends culture. They are even bad on those things that are universal across borders.
I got dinner there last night. I can’t, or won’t stop. The food is fantastic.
I asked for the homemade hot mustard because it said right there on the torn piece of cardboard stuck on the wall to ask for it. The woman made me sorry I asked. It was so worth it.
The food, the mustard and the delicious rudeness. I reveled in them all.
I’ll be back. They know it.