In action

It had been a long day – long, but productive. My students behaved well, had a productive talk about editing the school binder reminder, I played union rep and had a good conversation with admin, I got grading done, AND I got to eat lunch like a normal person today. I even left school early (although I have still nagging feeling that I’m forgetting something…). Well, early as in before 5:30pm.

I went to the mall to pick up a matching blazer for a new skirt: I have an interview tomorrow for a summer fellowship. I had been hankering for Korean dolsot and seafood pancake so I swung by the local Korean fast-food place. Usually I get take out and bring it home to eat, but for once, I had planned on eating in. As you bring the hot stone pot home, and dolsot is not the same without it. It’s great stuff, that slightly burnt rice with sesame oil and mixed veggies and beef.

When I was pulling into my parking spot, I noticed a fashionable woman entering the Korean food restaurant. I admired her outfit, and her thinness. I usually admire fashionable people’s outfits, and thin people’s thinness. She was dressed slightly nicer than professional, but not nice enough for a night out clubbing. I walked in a bit after her and noticed a tall, attractive man dressed in a grey suit in front of the fashionable woman at the register.

Ah. I thought. They must be on a date. Probably not a first date, since the establishment is fairly homey. But probably not the 100th date, since they were dressed so nicely.

Once my foot crossed the threshold, I finally noticed a fat, late-middle aged woman of the dreaded inverted triangle shape. She was talking to the thin, fashionable woman. As I got in line, the tall, attractive man took his change and took his seat away from the two women.

Ah. They aren’t on a date. That’s too bad, they look like they would make a good couple.

Inverted triangle woman took forever decided what she wanted. Then she took forever paying, making a big fuss, speaking louder and louder. From my Chinese upbringing, inverted triangle woman was being pretty rude in general. From my American education, inverted triangle woman was being unbearably rude to the Korean woman who was serving her. Inverted triangle woman spoke accusingly of being over-charged (when it was only tax), asked endless questions about which dish had more meat, and whether if they served more meat if you chose chicken over beef. She repeated that she wanted ‘the hot bowl’ over and over until I felt like the Indian grocery store owner next door heard her.

Fashionable woman had stepped out to answer a phone call. Inverted triangle woman paid and it was my turn. But this time, I knew I didn’t want to stay in to eat. I changed to a regular bibimbap with a seafood pancake, to go, please. I sat by the exit to wait for my order.

Tall, attractive man had been making eyes at fashionable woman since she walked back in from her phone call. A few minutes later, he got up and offered the two women some of his pizza and kimchi pancake. He said it was too much for him (he ordered pizza, the pancake, a dolsot, and something else that I couldn’t see clearly; all before he set eyes on fashionable woman). Inverted triangle woman’s voiced pitched at least an octave higher, and two notches louder than previously. She giggled profusely and thanked the man for sharing his food. The man lingered, long after they two woman had taken their share before sitting down again. It seemed like he was hoping he would be invited to sit next to them. But they didn’t extend the invite. Fashionable woman kept her mouth shut throughout this exchange except for a small, barely audible ‘thank you.’

The man sat back down, dejected and rejected. A few minutes later, Inverted Triangle started up a conversation with him, three tables away. They spoke loudly over the head of Fashionable, who sank a bit lower with every full stop. Inverted Triangle harried the Korean woman with a bowl of water to rinse her kimchi in, because she can’t eat spicy things, but she still wants it. Harried Korean woman ran back and forth between the kitchen and their table, and Inverted Triangle continued to demand more things each time: soy sauce, and then when she came back with it some more water, and then when she came back with it, some more kimchi. At last, the owner, a Korean man (I assume they are husband and wife) came out and told Inverted Triangle that all she needed was self-service at the counter next to the register.

Good job, Korean Dude. Good job.

The Korean woman came back out a few minutes later with my order and I whipped out of there as quick as I could. My appetite had almost disappeared. First, I was annoyed with Inverted Triangle for being rude and loud. Then I was disgusted with her selfish demands out of the meek Korean woman. Lastly, I wanted to vomit at her attitude towards the man – so polite, so thankful for him for sharing his food, so complimentary and such pleasant small talk with him! Such shining eyes for his tallness! His attractiveness! His interested in her daughter, the Fashionable Woman!

Yet, not a word of thanks to the Korean wife and husband who really served them.

Preferential treatment for men in action. Condescending treatment of immigrants in action. Ugly American, female version, in action.

Also in action: meekness of spirit, a servant’s heart, a wife relying and trusting her husband to protect her, and a husband standing up for his wife when she needed him.

Sill, when I went home, I ate the seafood pancake, but the bibimbap wasn’t up to snuff anymore. I boxed and put most of it in the fridge. Even though I was super hungry before. Even though I had been looking forward to my dinner. I just lost my appetite.

Or maybe there was just the sense of vomiting in me still from Inverted Triangle.

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