Thursday, September 29, 2011

Then & Now - Food take out


It just feels like yesterday when I went to a takeout eating joint for the first time in US and the person on the other side and I were absolutely bemused by the questions flowing from both sides.

Server: What would you like to have Sir?
Me: Hmmm, what do you have in Vegetarian?

Server: We have number 6, 8 and 10 in vegetarian and if you want I can make number 9 vegetarian too.
Me: Hmmm, let me think for a second (for about 20 seconds I tried to figure out what does she mean by numbers. Then I found the numbers next to each menu item hanging on the wall behind the server). I looked behind and there was a huge line so I let the person behind me take my place. Excuse me, go ahead, I think I might need to think (server looking at me and smiling. I don't know if she was smiling because she is supposed to on job with customers or she was smiling on my ignorance and being "Non American").

...I let 2 more people move ahead in the queue...

Server: So, decided?
Me: Yes, I think so. I will go with number 6. What's the dressing with number 6?

Server: It would be Italian Vinaigrette.
Me: (Thinking what the hell it is) Could you replace that with mayonnaise and mustard and light cheese?

Server: Sure. Would you like any extra toppings?
Me: Hmm, what's spicy?

Server: We have Jalapeno and Giardiniera
Me: (I know what Jalapeno is but what was this new thing that I couldn't even speak clearly). Which one is the 2nd one?

Server: Smiling at me and pointing her finger to the last bucket filled with some sort of mixture that looked hot.
Me: I'll have that (still can't say the name)

Server: Will it be a combo?
Me: What's a combo?

Server: You get a packet of chips and small drink.
Me: I'll be fine with just the sandwich.

Cashier: It would be four fifty.
Me: I handed over the card

Cashier: Credit or Debit?
Me: Credit.

Cashier: Thanks and Have a nice day.
Me: I sat down and started to eat my sandwich when I found that despite the fact that I asked her to add light cheese, the sandwich had lot of it.

Over the years, I learned that with Americans you have to be very clear and use the words they usually understand. Like instead of saying "light cheese", you should rather say "easy cheese or easy on cheese", instead of saying "water without ice" you should say "water no ice".

Present Day...

I walk in the restaurant/take out place, the server sees me and I walk straight to the cashier. I make the payment and I am done in just a couple of minutes. Over these 4 years, they have known me so well that I don’t have to even tell them what I need for my meal. They know that this guy is a vegetarian and orders the same thing whenever he comes. Even if I am back in queue, at times I can just walk to the cashier and pay for my meal.

I fear what will happen if these numbers someday get changed with others. I would walk in and the server will make number 6 and I will pay at the cashier but when I will sit down and unpack my meal, number 6 would turn out to be Tuna sandwich and I will be screwed J But can’t blame anyone, can I?

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