I have a cold, so I’m keeping this relatively brief; hopefully it will also be relatively coherent.
I was thinking in EMart the other day. (E-Mart, for those who aren’t in Korea, is the big grocery chain here.)
Lime and I had just been in a restaurant, and the food had some to the table, well, er, unacceptably cold. I complained, and the server’s first reaction was to tell me, “No, it’s supposed to be a little cold.”
To which I responded, “Uh, no, it’s not.” With an implied, Yes, it’s Western food, and yes, I do know what the hell I’m talking about, young man.
The guy tried to make good, after trying to sideline my complaint, as he did. But there followed an amusingly silly series of gaffes at the restaurant. People “cleaned up the table” but only halfway, nobody took our order for over 20 minutes though the place wasn’t especially busy. And the killer was what Lime said about the guy’s first gambit when I pointed out my food was cold: she said, “You know, I think he probably only took the complaint seriously because you’re a Westerner. If it were me, alone, he probably wouldn’t have brought me a new plate of hot food.”
And, well, chances are that someone like Lime — a relatively young Korean woman — might not have known better. After all, the family at the table beside ours, when they got their tiny, single-serving bowl of soup, put it in the middle of the table and shared it just as one would a Korean side soup. They cut up the single-serving dishes and put them in the middle of the table for everyone to share, and even Lime found it weird. Actually, she found it more comment-worthy than I did! (I just said, “Let ’em eat it how they want, as long as they let me eat how I want, right, hon?”)
Now, I’m not complaining, mind you, I’m just describing what I saw. (I’m at the point now where this kind of thing doesn’t annoy me anymore because if it did, I’d be angry during many a meal.) But it seemed to me that it was quite absurd to try to run a Western-style restaurant when likely nobody on staff has ever experienced what being a customer in a decent Western restaurant is like.
I began to reflect on some of the other things I’ve been considering lately. For example… Continue reading