a chinese restaurant
a chinese restaurant
my homegirl katie tells me
‘people are stupid.’
She comes to this conclusion
after working for more than a year at Howard Wang’s China Grill.
And yes, before you ask, it’s really called that.
And yes, Mr. Wang is a dick.
I guess once someone’s spent any amount of time
working at a chinese restaurant, they grow a sense of cynicism
about the meaning of it all.
It’s been more than a year, more than long enough
for her to get sick of wiping windows, long nights
and longer days, shit ass crab wontons
a boss who doesn’t stop hitting on her,
old white people who assume she doesn’t speak English
just because she’ vietnamese, their grandsons
who try to kick game
with the two words they learned in mandarin, bratty kids
and even brattier parents.
‘Ni hao to you too ma’am’
‘No sir, we do not have spaghetti. This is a chinese restaurant.’
‘No ma’am, you don’t get rice with your fried rice’
‘Yes sir, general gao’s chicken is really authentic chinese food’
‘No, I will not go on a date with you.’
‘Yes sir, no sir’
The litany continues till she can see herself,
beautiful girl with a woman’s eyes
going out back to the boxes she packaged earlier in the day,
grabbing her bootleg louis v and walking out
She imagines saying, as a parting remark to her boss
‘Your food is shit, your customers are asssholes,
I’d rather date your eighty year old father.
Turn the light on, just because it’s low
doesn’t mean we can’t tell you’re ugly.’
But she’d never say something like that,
she’s too nice, kind hearted enough
to feel guilty about uncharitable thoughts
but wishes she could stop
stop smiling like she likes this shit, as if a dollar above the minimum
were worth the way her legs ache
and the feel of her hands, that her mother once told her
were her grandfather’s
a calligrapher back in the homeland
wishes she had the courage to say she hates working here,
hates doubting herself, hates the down economy
high gas prices and college loans
but she’s a fighter, struggled too hard and long
to bitch about it now
So, no wonder she says it,
‘People are fucking stupid.’
i tell her she’s right
i’m not stupid enough to argue with a vietnamese woman
when she has access to kitchen knives.
It’s fifteen hundred miles of distance and two years since i’ve seen her last.
i tell her i love her,
that she’s more beautiful than she’d ever know
her hair windblown, her eyes stretched in a smile
the girl who’s too busy to find love
She laughs, thinking i’m faker than this restaurant’s ‘classic chinese cooking’,
and i grin like i always do, ‘cause ain’t no one have to believe it
for it to be true.
Maybe people really are stupid.