Some Observations from Chili's Bar and Grill, Blaine, MN
January 4, 2008
I hope that I can remember all the observations from dinner out tonight with my Indian friend and co-worker, here now for a third of his six month work visa.
“Why do they put so much ice in the drinks here?” “Because ice is cheaper than coke.” At the end of dinner, when the server brings the third glass: “But I wonder how much it cost for them to wash three glasses instead of one, to give me five straws (the first two had two to differentiate my diet), and to throw out most of the ice, and to waste the 10% at the bottom that you don’t end up drinking because a fresh one arrived?” Oh, and add in the time taken to deliver the fresh cup. If they would have just given me a small amount of ice to begin with, I might have been happy with one glass, or two at the most.
“You know, we do not have women serving in restaurants in India. It is only men.” “Do you think that is because there are far fewer women in the work force in general?” “Yes, probably. And they are not so nice as this either. Often times they do not even come to your table, you have to go retrieve them. And the tip is not because they did a good job, it is to make sure they pay more attention the next time you come in.”
We had eaten at an Indian restaurant a few weeks earlier, the best in the Twin Cities. My wife remarked later that she found the waiter particularly surly. My friend said that the man was one of the best Indian waiters he had encountered!
Teleport someone into the (non-snowy) suburbs of Mpls/St. Paul, Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, or Kansas City, and she’ll have no idea where she is – unless she happens to be a particularly good arborist, perhaps. Not quite as true in California, where they have a more distinctive architecture. Almost true of Boston, though I think I would have known New England. But perhaps not. How boring. But calm and safe anyway.
“[Field] Hockey is our national sport, but no one watches it.” “Then what do you mean by national sport?” “Do you not have one?” “Well, they say that baseball is ‘America’s pastime’ (or was), but that was due to its popularity.” “Well, do you have a national song, a national bird, and so on? We also have a national sport.” “Oh, I see. But no one pays attention to it?” “No, so some are agitating to replace hockey with cricket.”
My favorite state slogans: Missouri, “The Show Me State,” and “Oklahoma is OK.”
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