Culture x

Instead of wasting money on a plane ticket, I brought the cultural experience to me.

Staycations from Hell: Besieging a Chinese Buffet

Spring Break 2016: Visit a Foreign Country

Instead of wasting money on a plane ticket, I brought the cultural experience to me.

By Imani McGarrell, Texas State University

Photography by Madelynne Scales, Texas State University


12:46pm

I arrive at the Chinese buffet slightly later than expected. I get seated at a booth that is slightly off of the main dining room, and a quick look around tells me that I’ve beaten the lunch rush.

1:08pm

My waiter brings me a tall glass of Sprite while I’m getting my first plate.

1:33pm

So far my waiter has said exactly one word to me. I asked him if I could move over one booth because that one has a charger. I’ve never seen someone convey begrudging approval in a nod before.

2:15pm

A dad is eating a plate of sushi while his two little boys eat slices of cardboard-looking cheese pizza. They’re both wearing baseball caps, jeans and bright green Velcro sneakers.

2:37pm

Why do some middle-class white people dress their children in matching clothes?

3:00pm

The sushi bar is in the back of the dining room and while I’m over there I hear some commotion in the front. Some guy in a bucket hat and a striped shirt is popping off at the waitress in the front of the store. I rush back to my booth, because I’m old enough now to stop pretending that I don’t love drama.

3:03pm

Things have escalated quickly. Bucket Hat is still yelling at the woman and she is very calmly responding to him. I can’t make out what she’s saying but he keeps yelling that it’s bullshit.

3:07pm

Bucket Hat just pulled the suburban soccer-mom move and asked to speak to the manager. The woman snapped back at him, “I AM the manager” so quick I damn near got whiplash.

The conversation then goes as follows:

BH: At this point, I’m never eating here again!

Her: That’s fine, but you still have to pay.

BH, who is somehow angrier now: I’m not paying you anything!

Her: Okay, sir, then I’m going to have to call the police.

BH: The police?? Well I’m not paying you a damn dime now!

3:09pm

Bucket Hat then runs out of the store through a side door. The woman shouts something loudly and then 5 male employees run out after him. Me and the moms next to me both gasp loudly and clutch our imaginary pearls.

3:29pm

The moms next to me give me the tea on what the altercation was about. Apparently BH was eating outside while he smoked a cig, when the woman asked him to come back inside and pay if he was going to leave the restaurant.

3:30pm

The male employees come back inside empty handed and red-faced.

4:12pm

I finally finish my sushi and although it was good, I’m now very thirsty from the salty fish. My waiter has yet to bring me another drink or speak to me again.

4:45pm

A woman in the booth behind me just complained to the guy with her about the lack of fresh fruit available. I’m not sure if it’s the MSG or my parched throat but before I can help it I say, “Girl, you know better than that.” They leave shortly after.

5:30pm

Is there a class all new age mothers take that teaches them how to make a baby sling out of a head scarf? I’ve seen at least 5 today and it seems like a universal survival technique I should know how to do.

6:04pm

There is a family here with two teenage sons. I wonder where they’re from because the younger one has 2010 Bieber hair and he doesn’t seem embarrassed about it. Maybe they don’t have the internet.

6:12pm

My waiter has been glaring at me from a distance for about an hour now. I think he decided not to bring me anything to drink as a form of resistance. I debated explaining my situation to him but my thirst is getting real and I’d rather just leave.

6:30pm

I feel terrible. I’m back home now and I feel like survivor of some sort of weird capitalist Hunger Games where the only thing that gets murdered is my affinity for Asian cuisine.

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