Sunday, January 4, 2015

Working Our "Nihao" Hand

Having worked in the service industry for years, I find it very important to treat others in this industry with as much respect and kindness as I am capable of giving. No complaining or sending food back ever, always saying thank you, stacking dishes at the table, tipping well ( must love abstractions). I don't snap my fingers, or yell, or wave my hands. These actions fall well under the category of, "bitch, bitch, bitch." This is important to my heart. If I were in a restaurant yelling or complaining, or sending something back to the kitchen because it wasn't cooked right, and the server somehow found out that I had once been a server myself, karma would personally strangle me in my sleep. When you are or have been in-industry, you kiss toes and leave your life savings before you go.

In China, much like Europe, there is no tipping. You pay the bill and the facility pays the server. In fact, tipping is sometimes considered an insult. OK, this is foreign to me, but I can deal. At least I can still pre-stack dishes and smile, using prolific, "xie xie!" Right? Wrong! All of my attempts to be western-world polite were smacked in the face as I discovered that in order to get any food you have to put your hand in the air, wave it around manically while shouting, "Nihao!" If you want to be a badass in the Canton area, you can throw an, "mgoy!" (Cantonese for please/thank you), out there, or call the server "pretty girl"/"handsome guy." Not matter what though, you must get that "nihao" hand up in the air and really mean it!

Even though I know that this is how things are done here in China, it still breaks my ex-server heart to shout at people for food. Starvation or shouting? My stomach makes a thousand and one aberrant noises that mean nothing to the beautiful people rushing back and forth with steaming bowls of dumplings...starve...or shout? shit!

Hunger drives us to do wild things we never thought we were capable of.


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