Land Of The Rising Expectations

| Working | March 15, 2014

(I’ve been working in the Japanese restaurant business for a year, but I have started at a new restaurant. I’m still getting used to their ways. Once the manager finds out I’m also Japanese, she finds every opportunity to verbally abuse me since it’s culturally unacceptable to talk back, no matter how ridiculous. A couple sits down at my table. The wife is Korean and the husband is Caucasian. They open the menu and when they put it down, I approach them.)

Me: “Hi. May I take your order?”

Husband: “I have a question. I looked at your menu and I don’t see kimchi on here.”

(I am puzzled, because kimchi is Korean spicy pickled vegetables, but there are some Japanese dishes that use kimchi so I’m not 100 percent sure.)

Me: “I don’t think we have kimchi here.”

(The husband looks at his wife, who has a clearly disappointed expression.)

Me: “I can double check for you. I’ll be right back.”

(I go into the kitchen and ask the chefs.)

Me: “We don’t serve kimchi here, right?”

Chefs: “No. There is a Japanese restaurant down the street run by a Korean couple that has it, but we don’t.”

Me: “Right, thanks.” *goes back to table*

Me: “I’m very sorry, we don’t have kimchi here. Would you be interested in tsukemono instead? They’re Japanese non-spicy pickled vegetables.”

Husband: “No, that’s okay. Thank you.”

(The couple then just get up and leave the restaurant. I’m rather confused because if they only wanted kimchi, I don’t know why they bothered to come to a Japanese restaurant, but I set up the table to be used by other customers.)

Manager: “What happened?! Why did they leave? What did you do?!”

(I explain.)

Manager: “Are you sure? Did you offend them? What did you say?”

Me: “No. I just said we don’t serve kimchi and I asked if they perhaps wanted tsukemono instead.”

Manager: “They came here for only kimchi? That’s ridiculous. We’re a Japanese restaurant.”

Me: “I understand. I asked the chefs just to make sure and they confirmed that we don’t have it. But they weren’t interested in anything else.”

Manager: “You need to think more about the customer! This restaurant values service and the owners are always emphasizing that we need to give better service! You’re not doing your part for the customers! How long do you think you’ve been working here?”

(I had only been there for a month, but there was nothing I could do but bow and apologize profusely. Later on I became really good friends with the owners and discovered that when they were talking about customer service, they mean it as a personal criticism to the manager because she’s so terrible at it!)

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