punkwalrus (punkwalrus) wrote,

Caught in the loop

There's a Korean deli in our building. It opened up a few months ago, and it was just the thing we needed. Admittedly, it has more "Korean market" food than traditional Western food, but that's okay. Weird Hungarian candy has to be sold to someone, right? Hmm... plum flavored gummy berries that are harder to chew than a tire (but actually, they taste pretty good). They have a grill, and the service is exemplary. Like stereotypical Asian service you see in films, "We serve you so good! Make happy, yes?" Weird to see it in real life, although I have seen it in films of Japan. I find myself bowing back. It is important to know how intensely polite these employees are to understand today's story.

Recently, they hired a new girl. She also barely speaks English, but is of some different ethnicity. What's funny is the only language the people and this new girl have in common is English, and they all barely speak it. I mean, they know the usual "Eddo!" and "Tenkoo camagen!" plus some basic phrases in accents so thick, it's have to determine it's English at all. But they manage. Well, almost.

See, this girl obviously has a very simple handle on things. Like farm folk, she knows routine, and so today, when I acted out of routine, she sort of got caught in some logic loop I have seen more in programming interactive robots than humans. I was the only one in there this morning, and I decided to get a delicious bacon, egg, and cheese croissant (aka "the heart stopper"). I also got some cranberry juice and a large cookie, and one of the usual girls rang me up right away. I had to wait for my sandwich to finish cooking, so I waited by the grill while they made small talk "Aw, oo look nice tootay!" "We have a... Milky WAY! You ask, we find supplier, YAY! Ah?" (apparently the Hungarian candy is causing complaints with the less adventurous folk in our building). The "grill master" showed the new girl how to cut the sandwich, and she wrapped it up in wax paper, and took it back to the register, where I wasn't. The girls went, "Oh no!" in embarrassed shock, and tried to get her to hand me the sandwich. But she didn't understand, and seemed to be trying to say, "I fixed it, you ring it up, right?" And they tried to say, "No, he is standing over there! He paid already!" So they gently pushed her, and she gently resisted, and neither side was able to get across what they wanted in a war of politeness. Finally, it was three Koreans to this one non-Korean, and they took the sandwich from her, and handed it to me in a rather over stated way, as if to say to her, "See? You hand it TO the only customer in the store."

The girl looked surprised when she realized, as if to say, "What are you doing THERE?"

"Ahahahaha!" laughed one of the girls in a diplomatic way. "She is new! Hahahaha! Oh new..."

I know they are all humans like me, doing their best in this world, and I admire their attention to service, but that was so funny... it was like watching robots bump into one another. And I hope they never change. It's impossible to be unhappy in there.
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