I had about 70 minutes before attending Core Barre, a group fitness class I had been meaning to try for months. I packed up in the office, and decided I felt like having a quick bite of Vietnamese food for dinner. Due to my low blood sugar, I can't work out on an empty stomach. I briefly considered calling ahead to order, but realized I couldn't remember the name or menu number of my favorite dish. Seeing that it was 4:35, I decided it was likely to be quiet at the restaurant, and the service would be speedy. I drove over.
I entered Vietnam Restaurant to see that "Joe" (his American name - they're all from Thailand) wasn't working at the moment. One of the women who normally works in the kitchen had an apron on, and came out into the restaurant to greet me. I noticed that the place was empty.
"Where you wife?" she asked, looking concerned.
I was a little surprised. Joe always waits on us when Jules and I dine together, there, about once a week. I wasn't aware that the kitchen folks paid much attention.
"Oh, she didn't come in with me today. I'm on my own."
"Oh. OK," she began. We were still standing in the middle of the restaurant. I was starting to unzip my coat. "You want numba 25, wit extra sauce and die coke?" she asked.
"Um, yea! That's it! I thought of calling ahead, but I couldn't remember my order. Joe always just gets it for me."
She laughed, though I'm not perfectly sure she understood what I said. She noticed me looking at the tables.
"You want sit here?" she asked, pointing.
"Sure, that'll be great."
I was greatly amused that she knew my order by heart, even though she had never waited on me before. I sat down, and pulled out my smartphone. I opened up Facebook and related the incident. I had no sooner pushed "post" when she arrived with my food! I swear it was under 2 minutes!
"Here you go." she said.
"Wow, that was fast!"
She smiled, and went back to the counter.
I ate my dinner, rather quickly, since I wanted to get to the gym. I finished up, and pushed the plate away. It was nummy, as always!
"You all done? Want check?"
She pulled the check from her pad, and set it on the table. She looked down at my plate, and frowned. I hadn't eaten the pickled vegetables that they give with the pork and rice.
"You no eat pickows!" she exclaimed. "You no like? They good!... 'a swee 'a sowah!"
"Oh, I don't really care for pickles."
"They gooooood! 'a swee 'a sowah!" she exclaimed, again. She looked perplexed that I wouldn't devour sweet and sour pickles!
"Well, I usually give them to my Wife. She loves them." I said.
"Ooh.." She nodded. "You want I wrap up foe ha?"
I was surprised and pleased. I hadn't thought to take them home for Jules.
"That would be really nice. She'd like that!"
"OK!", she replied, beaming a smile. She scooped up my plate and hustled to the counter.
I followed a moment later, with my check and some money. As I arrived, she was scooping the pickles into a small to-go plastic cup.
"She like, huh?" she re-confirmed..
"Yes, she loves them. She'll appreciate it."
"OK! I give ha extra!"
She opened up the big pot of pickles behind the counter, and scooped more into the cup, filling it to the brim.
I left the restaurant with a big smile on my face, and a gift for Jules in my hand. The two ladies working the restaurant were standing by the register, as I took one final glance over my shoulder. Their hands were folded in front of them. They bowed slightly, and said good night. I nodded in return, and said "Good night!" with a wave.
There are four restaurants, side by side in Collegetown, "Little Thai House", "Asian Noodle House", "Vietnam Restaurant" and "Hai Hong Chinese restaurant". They're all owned by the same Thai family. On a given day, you might see the family members working in any one of them. I've probably been fed by them 2-3 times per week for the last 20 years. Their food is good, prices fair, and portions generous.
When I look at them, and I think of my own immigrant grandparents. They're making their way, working hard, raising their children (I often see Joe's son in the store). They're doing their best to live the American Dream. I've noticed some of their little mannerisms, like holding cash with both hands, and holding it out with their head bowed when they make change. I do my best to show that respect in return. When I pay my bill, I now always hold my cash with two hands, and bow my head as I hand it to them.
I guess they notice when a customer shows them a little courtesy and treats them like human beings. Even the ones peeking out from the kitchen.
Tags: pickle dinner respect
Current Mood: chipper