Customer Encounters #13 – LOL! I’m so funny because I’m wasting the takeaway person’s time

The other night a group of about four teenage boys (I’d say 14-ish) came in and one of them who was a bit on the tubby side with a blue coat, a cap and ratty looking ginger-ish hair and freckles (without meaning to cause offence to gingers) and had that self-proclaimed “swagger” about him that read “look at me, I’m cool, important and worth listening to”.

Anyway this Michael McIntyre wannabe decided it would be funny to waste my time.

Boy: Hi, do you have any chicken tikka masala?

Me: Seriously?

Boy: Oh, you don’t have it? How about chicken korma?

Me: *leaves the counter*

Under these normal circumstances it is quite normal to think certain thoughts to yourself along the lines of “things I really wish I said”, but you know that as someone working behind the counter under no circumstances can you lose your cool. That would be entirely unprofessional.

So what I normally do is instead when they leave, think of as many creative comebacks I could have used. That evening they included:

Seriously? Is that the best you can do? I’ve heard better jokes from five-year olds.

Wow, you’ve got a long way to go until you become the next Frankie Boyle because that joke was s***.

No we don’t have chicken masala but I can serve you a portion of f*** off.

I clearly couldn’t think of anymore imaginative insults as I tend not to be that kind of person, I don’t stay angry for very long, it normally lasts for about a minute before I just move on with my work because I had other customers to serve. In this instance I walked away because I was already serving two other people.

The problem with these situations where you are behind the counter you want to be able talk back and defend yourself, in this case and you do feel somewhat powerless that you can’t do that. But that is the reality.

So Mr Ginger-Funnyman, you think you are all that important? Why am I such an easy target? Because work in a takeaway? Because I work in a job that is so beneath you that you think I’m worthy of belittling? Because you know that no matter how many casually racist jokes you make you know I’m not going to fight back? Well then, I wish you the best of luck with the rest of your life if that is how you treat everyone else who works behind a shop counter.


Customer Encounters #12 – But I’m from Peckham!

Around the end of last year we had a customer who came in, a new customer as it happened, she asked quite a few questions about the menu and had a specific interest in wanting something that had king prawns and did keep changing her mind every so often.

She settled for deep fried king prawn with chilli salt and pepper (something of a recommended dish if I do say so myself). We brought it out and she opened it in front of us and took issue with the number of prawns compared to the size of the box and how expensive it was (£4.20).

She made a huge fuss about it being so expensive to which I pointed out that seafood in general is going to be slightly more expensive.

“No  it’s not expensive.” She said giving me the attitude and the “nu-uh” finger gesture, “I’m from Peckham, prawn is not expensive down there, I buy it everyday, I can buy prawn anywhere there and it’s not this expensive.”

“Well I hate to break it to you love but one you’re not in Peckham and two if you’re claiming that king prawn is not that expensive there then it’s either not fresh, or from Iceland or most likely both.”

She said this with a sense of entitlement, that she deserved cheaper king prawns and was oblivious to the fact that we are also aware of the increasing cost of king prawns, which we consider something of a luxury in our house.

She repeated herself over and over again in that agitated manner people get when they’re frustrated and angry and resort to just constantly repeating themselves, as if saying that means that they win the argument.

Nevertheless this woman stormed out and most definitely will not be making the trouble of coming back from Peckham to our shop.

Gong Hei Fat Choi!

Happy Chinese New Year!

Now I could say that to welcome the year of the snake me and the family went out to Chinatown, had an epic meal of dim sum and other sweet treats and watched the dragon dancing in Trafalgar Square.

Alas I may have to bore you a little bit and admit that we spent Chinese New Year at home (mainly because on Sundays my younger siblings have to go to Chinese school and weekend tutoring).

My old housemate from university was quite perplexed when she phoned me up and asking what I was doing at that moment on Sunday and had to admit that I was actually ironing school uniforms.

But anyway, the family lunch (tuen yuen fan), was a simple meal; mussels steamed with garlic and ginger for starters and for mains deep fried king prawns with sweet and sour sauce, steamed salmon with blackbean sauce, roast duck and kai lan (it’s a type of vegetable by the way). To end the meal we had lotus root and water chestnuts soup.

Whilst our Chinese New Year was something of an understated and simple affair it doesn’t detract from it being that time of year for family.

Customer Encounters #11 – Learning to queue

To quote a line from Martin Freeman’s character in Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (yes I know it is blasphemous to see that first and not the original) “I am British, I know how to queue.” That is unless you are this man.

Last night I was in the middle of taking an order from one of our more regular customers and this man comes in, slightly scruffy, young-ish (I’d say mid to late twenties, possibly older), woolen jumper, munching on a bag of chips from the fish and chip shop next door.

Seeing that he already had food I imagined he would just want a bowl of curry sauce or soft drink. But instead of waiting for the man I was in the middle of serving to finish placing his order, this man just barges in, tosses a pound on the counter and goes “can of coke, please.”

I carried on serving the gentleman I was in the middle of serving, and chip man just kept going “can of coke” pushing the pound coin just a little bit closer by a few milimetres in a bid to get my attention because apparently he is the most important person in the room because he just wants a can of coke.

Once I finished the order and said “can of coke.” To which I put my hand up and went “yes I know”

“For goodness sake calm down, did you not know that someone invented something called a queue?”

To be fair to him at least he said please.

The day Giles Coren tweeted me

So in early January journalist and Times columnist Giles Coren tweeted me. Not just because he felt like it, but more because he tweeted something, and I responded and we had a brief Twitter conversation from then on.

He tweeted out “If someone describes a Chinese restaurant as ‘a good local Chink’, is that bad?” I replied, and a brief conversation followed.giles_coren_twitter_0114

If Giles Coren ever happens to read this then the offer of free prawn crackers (and maybe some vegetable spring rolls) still stands.