Well-Intentioned But Not Well-Fed

, , , , , , | Friendly | October 29, 2018

(I was a pre-teen when my family became friends with several families who recently moved to Louisiana from Iran to escape religious persecution. Many years later, I still remember the best lesson I ever got about the differences between our cultures.)

Adult Iranian Friend: “A couple of Americans set up a business meeting around noon with a couple of Persian friends of mine. My friends didn’t eat before they arrived, but when they got there, there was no food laid out. The Americans greeted them warmly but said, ‘We haven’t actually had lunch yet, so we were wondering if you would mind if we ate during the meeting?’ My friends graciously said, ‘No, not at all.’ The Americans then ate their food in front of my friends, completely unaware that my friends watched them hungrily the whole time. My friends learned that they should always eat before going to any meeting with Americans.”

Me: *confused* “Well, yeah? I mean, the Americans weren’t required to feed them. And they apologized, and your friends said it was okay, so they weren’t doing anything wrong.”

Adult Iranian Friend: “Yes, but in my culture, food would have been offered, and it would have been rude to come to the meeting on a full stomach.”

Me: “But your friends weren’t friends with the Americans, were they? Why would the Americans have to feed them? They’re not required to.”

(After a bit more discussion, I finally understood: Americans will schedule meetings through mealtimes and expect acquaintances to rearrange the rest of their day around those meetings and provide food for themselves. Americans may offer a drink or a snack to guests, but they rarely offer more than that to someone they don’t consider a close friend. These were things I’d grown up thinking everyone did. But instead, as I came to learn through regular interactions with my Persian friends, they will feed guests full meals at pretty much every opportunity, and this is completely normal for them. I’m American and I find cooking meals for other people both exhausting and expensive, so I don’t recommend following that Persian custom unless you have time, energy, and funds. But be aware that your Persian guests may have expectations that are different than you’re used to, and be sure to plan your meetings with them accordingly.)

You Have NOT Been A Ham

, , , , | Right | October 28, 2018

(I work in a small cafe serving coffee and basic food like sandwiches, burgers, chips, etc. We offer the option to create your own sandwich using a variety of ingredients listed on our menus. This exchange occurs with a customer one afternoon. The lady has a somewhat vague look on her face as she walks in, and she takes a moment to respond to all my questions. These are questions I have to ask so I get people’s orders right.)

Me: “Good afternoon! What can I get you?”

Customer: *pause and stares at me* “Do you do sandwiches?”

Me: “Yes! On the bottom of the menu here…” *motions to the menu listing sandwich ingredients* “…are all the things you can have in a sandwich. You can have them fresh or toasted.”

(The lady says nothing for a moment and appears to read the menu.)

Customer: “The carrot, lettuce, cucumber, and tomato, please.”

Me: “So, you’d like just a salad sandwich.”

Customer: “Yes.”

Me: “So, you don’t want any meat in that one?”

(I motion again to the meat options; we offer chicken, ham, or turkey as meat fillings.)

Customer: “Beef!”

Me: “I’m sorry, but we don’t have beef. How about ham?”

Customer: “Yes.”

Me: “Okay. So, a ham and salad sandwich. Was that fresh or toasted?”

Customer: “Toasted.”

Me: “Okay! Would you like us to put the salad in the sandwich after the bread is toasted so it doesn’t go limp?”

Customer: “What? No. On the side.”

(I’m confused now, because she said she wanted salad in the sandwich.)

Me: “Okay, wait… So, you would like a side of salad instead of the salad in the sandwich?”

Customer: “Yes.”

Me: “Okay. So, you would like just the ham in the sandwich, and a side of salad with that?”

Customer: “Yes.”

Me: “Okay. So, that was just ham in the sandwich. No cheese or anything else, right?”

Customer: “Oh, yes, cheese!”

Me: *now inwardly screaming* “Okay! So, you would like a ham and cheese toasted sandwich with a side salad?”

Customer: “Yes.”

Me: “Was that white bread or multigrain?”

Customer: “Multigrain.”

(I finally got to ring her up for what I hoped was actually what she wanted. She got her order, ate it, didn’t complain, and left. I am baffled and exhausted by trying to get the order from this lady. Was it really so hard to say, “Ham and cheese toastie with salad on the side”?)

Not Just The Watermelons That Are Hollow

, , , , , , | Related | October 25, 2018

(I am going grocery shopping with my mum when she stops to pick up a watermelon. To my bemusement, she brings the melon up to her ear and starts hitting the side of it.)

Me: *staring at her* “Um…. what are you doing?”

Mum: “[Uncle] told me this trick with watermelons! You hit it, and you can tell by how it sounds whether or not it’s fresh.”

Me: “So, how is it supposed to sound if it’s fresh?”

Mum: “That’s the thing; I forgot! It either sounds hollow if it’s fresh, or hollow if it’s not. I forgot which one is which!” *continues picking up watermelons and hitting them*

Me: “Well, what’s the point of banging on them all if you don’t know what sound you’re looking for?

Mum: *pauses*

Me: *stares*

Mum: *resumes her assault on the watermelons*

(I’ve given up trying to understand the logic in this woman’s thought processes.)

A Meal That Didn’t Put A Foot Wrong

, , , , , , | Related | October 24, 2018

(I’ve just made dinner for my parents. Having a bout of creativity, I decided to make Halloween meatloaf, and twice-baked potatoes. The meatloaf is shaped like monster feet, with the toenails being little pieces of onion, and the twice-baked potatoes are covered in melted cheddar, with bacon bits forming a jack-o-lantern face. After eating, my dad comes into the kitchen.)

Dad: “[My Name], that was delicious. Thanks.”

Me: “No problem. Glad you enjoyed it.”

Mom: *to my dad* “What did you have? Toes?”

Dad: “No, I had the ankle.”

Mom: “Right. I had the toes, and [My Name] had the arch.”

Dad: *grinning* “Now we just sound like cannibals!”

Me: “It’s a feet-st!”

Tearing Chunks Of Meat Out Of Their Argument

, , , , , | Right | October 23, 2018

(I am a vegetarian working at a popular cafe chain that serves soups, among other things. There’s a very scant picking for non-meat eaters, but most customers appreciate that I can help them. A college-aged couple comes up to my till.)

Girl: “Hi. We’re vegetarian. Can you tell us what we can eat?”

Me: “Oh! Of course. Well, you can have anything from the bakery section, or you can have—” *rattles off a list of options*

Boy: “Hm, okay. Well, we want a bowl of broccoli cheddar.”

Me: “Unfortunately, that soup is not vegetarian.”

(The couple exchanges looks and scoffs.)

Girl: “You’re telling me there’s meat in the broccoli cheddar?

Me: “Yes, it’s made with chicken stock.”

Boy: “Yeah, sure there is. Whatever. Give us a bowl of French onion, and don’t even try to tell us there’s meat in that.”

Me: “Sure thing.”

(The couple received their order, a soup made of caramelized onions stewed in beef broth. If you’re a vegetarian, make sure you actually research the menu before you quiz the vegetarian cashier.)

Page 5/107First...34567...Last