I could feel the heinous bitch vibes before we even pulled around the corner. Women have a sixth sense about these things. It might actually be one of our many supernatural abilities, to know when someone who loathes you is near. My husband and I wanted some Tex-Mex, and surprisingly, you can find decent Tex-Mex in Okinawa, particularly at Mike’s, an establishment we have been frequenting for nearly six years now. It’s cheesy and reminds me of places from my childhood in Arizona, replete with velvet paintings of guys in sombreros and those plastic tortilla warmers that EVERYONE has in Mexi-America but are, in fact, actually made in China, a discovery I made one day that made me laugh way too hard and disturb the motley crew of Mike’s. Especially Lemonface Burritocunt, which is what I shall call this horrible woman from here on out.
One thing you have to understand about Japanese culture is that if they say they are closing at 2pm you better not get there at 1:30 because they will have already started packing up and, in the best of places, will rush an order to you and call last call just after you have received all your food. On one particular, cloud-laden, muggy, day at Mike’s, however, my husband and I sat down around 1:15 and, acknowledging that we arrived fairly late, immediately placed our order in hopes of satisfying that urge, that call of nature that only true South-Westerners, understand, to satiate the need for fried, spicy shit with loads of salsa and fattening bits and misc condiments with names like “hell sauce” and “happy habanero.” And Margaritas, obviously. Tex-Mex is funny. We were being served by a charming young lady who was more than hospitable, and of course everything was rushed out with the familiar Mexican food restaurant phrase (all though much more amusing when said with a Japanese accent) “Careful. This plate is hot.” All was enjoyable and right in the world until sometime around 1:45 when some Kafkaesque “changing of the guard” happened and on to the scene, clutching a tray like Gollum and his “Precious,” came Lemonface Burritocunt, who passive aggressively started clearing half eaten plates from our table. Her face was so pinched Elmira Gulch and her wicked alter-ego would have looked downright jovial. Her body jerked like a clockwork robot gone off kilter and she avoided eye contact like she might catch something horrible. Like smiling. Or humanity. This was not simply a miserable looking woman having a bad day. This was someone who, quite possibly, was so angry and bitter and truly, truly exuding loathing that I was honestly a little disturbed.
Pleasantly, yet gingerly, I said, “Gomen nasai (I’m sorry) Not finished yet.” And put my hand on my precious burrito. She slowly raised her head, glared at me and literally threw-dropped the plates down with a loud cow-LANK! She whipped around like a tornado of rage, grumbling and blustering, and made to exit, but before she could I figured I better get my second margarita whilst I could.
“Sumimasen. One more margarita, kudisai.” I said, trying to maintain an air of pleasantry.
As soon as I said it I knew it was a mistake. She didn’t move for a moment. In my mind I remember the clouds slipping over the sun and even perhaps a light mist. She just stood there with her back to us, bony shoulders hunched like some terrible female wraith from a Japanese horror film who you KNOW is gonna scare the shit out of you once the slow moving camera suddenly jerks toward a view of her face. She did turn slowly and glared at me and said…..”NO.”
And then she walked back inside and did not return to the table.
I cannot tell you how INCREDIBLY pissed off I was. Thoroughly, intensely pissed off. And slightly unnerved. We paid our bill and as we were walking out, in a impulsive moment I turned to the sweet young thing that was serving us to begin with and said “You were a lovely waitress, thank you.” And turning to Lemonface all I said was “You were HORRIBLE.”
Now as a former waitress/bartender/hostess/etc, I feel I have the right to criticize people when they have been total cunts to me in the service industry, and maybe you think I should have just let it go, and I did, actually, until it became clear that every time we ate there and she was forced to deal with me, she wanted to murder me. Of course I took the challenged and tried to “kill her with kindness.” I went out of my way to thank her for everything, despite her rudeness, I complimented her on her haircut, things like that. I wasn’t gonna let this asshole ruin one of my favorite comfort food joints. Eventually my “kindness” became sarcastic. I just didn’t give a shit. But then, and I am not sure when, something turned. She became mean again, like she was deliberately TRYING to provoke me. Finally it came to the point where I was avoiding her at all costs. Eating at Mike’s became uncomfortable, unpleasant and eventually downright unbearable. One day I walked in while my husband was parking the car, saw her standing there on the other side of the restaurant GLARING at me as if she were trying to burn holes into my skull and I just walked out with a not so subtle “Fuck this shit,” as my farewell.
And I hadn’t gone back until tonight.
Again the cravings had brought us, on eggshells, to the streets of Chatan. I made a deal with my husband that we would do a drive-by and if she was there we would just go someplace else. Of course, deep in the pit of my stomach I knew she was there, just laying in wait like a sniper, ready to shit in my beans or piss in my sangria. Of course I saw her, I could tell, but my husband was not convinced.
“No! That is NOT her. I swear.”
“I don’t believe you.”
“Come ON,” he verbally dragged me from the car and down the sidewalk, up the steps, and through the front door where Lemonface Burritocunt stood glaring at me, her eyes throwing dulled steak knives. I hope, friends, that you have never felt the unabashed, unbelievably irrational hatred that I felt from her in that moment but if you have, you understand. The flames instantly, in less than a second, were starting to Clue‘s “Mrs. White” themselves “at the side of my face, breathing-breathl- heaving breaths. Heaving breaths… Heathing…” Again I spun on my heel, hungry again, and this time angry and humiliated. I was so mad. Mad at my husband for not recognizing the woman who was making our Tex-Mex lives miserable, for walking me into that situation. More so I was livid at my own ability to walk away instead of hold my chin high, walk in and order like a boss, that I was actually truly afraid of this visibly unhinged woman and what she might do to my food. Was I being irrational about this? Was my creative mind taking liberties? Suddenly I was thoroughly depressed and down on myself. I should have been braver. I should have stood up to her. I should have…done something other than slink away into the night just to go home and order delivery pizza. I SHOULD have done what I would have done in the States or the UK and talk to the manager, explain the problem and sort the whole thing out. Or yell at them. Something.
But I didn’t. I am a guest in this country. I don’t have a personal relationship with the owner or the manager so I have no power. The Japanese, generally, DO. NOT. CARE. if you like them or not. Especially if they have an established business. Especially if you are an expat. ESPECIALLY if you are American. To eat at Mike’s I have to take it in the ass like a bitch in prison or I have to relinquish my favorite Tex-Mex place to the “no-go” list and carry on with my life.
It was a very sad, very frustrating realization, because I am nobody’s bitch.
A few days later we drove by that road again and I could feel the acid in my blood and that sealed the deal. It’s done. It’s over. She wins. Lemonface Burritocunt wins, but not because I am a pussy. Not because I did anything wrong, really. Because the odds were always stacked in her favor. The house always wins right? And what other explanation could there be for someone so fantastically rude, villainous and disgusting to maintain a good job like this? The house always wins.
In a way though, I win, because after I write this little rant it is over for me. I sucked the poison out. I am free of it and I have the option of hundreds of great restaurants to patronize where they like me, appreciate me, have proper service and food and leave me satiated and happy.
That’s where MY win really comes in. I get to be HAPPY. Something I think, when it comes to the end of the day, I doubt Lemonface Burritocunt never is and hasn’t been in a very long time.
I can relate so much to this rant. As you said, being an ex-service industry worker makes it so hard to tolerate bad service. Especially unprovoked rude service. Jon often gets upset with my intolerance for this type of awfulness, but in the end, I am paying these jack-offs. When you go somewhere for an experience, you should never be made to feel like you are a burden. Unless you show up ten minutes before close…’cuz that’s just dick. Well done, sister friend!
Can you ask to be seated in another server’s area? And why can’t you talk to the manager?
It is such a small place there is very rarely more than one waitress. And talking to the manager just wouldn’t get me anywhere. It is a Japanese thing. They would bow and pretend to understand and then not change a thing. And I would be the one looking like an asshole. It’s just a whole different culture. That said there are many AMAZING restaurants here that respect their food and customers deeply. This is a chain. There isn’t that care for customer service. And I am sure it doesn’t help that they are 5 minutes from a US Marine Base and I, myself, have witnessed drunk 20 year old Americans making asses of themselves in this restaurant. With the current political climate in Okinawa I just don’t want to poke the bear.
Yep! My reply is always . . . no tip and no return to the place be it restaurant or store. Cheers!
I can’t speak for Natasha but going without Mexican food ….not an option