The photo above is of Pandan Chicken from the Kawali Grill; big juicy pieces of chicken breast fried with some coconut, served with some yellow rice. I decided not to order it because of the “sweet chili sauce” which we all know is that sticky sweet thai chicken sauce from a bottle that we all used to dip our lumpia in back in the 90s.
So the waitress put it down in front of me; I didn’t realize it wasn’t my order until I saw that stupid sauce. So I called her from across the room, she came over and I told her, this isn’t the lemongrass chicken that I ordered. She apologized and said, no, it’s not. That’s a Pandan Chicken.
There was a pause, and I said, ok, could you please take this back, I would like the lemongrass chicken.
Immediately, she said, oh, I’m sorry sir, I don’t think we have the lemongrass chicken.
That’s a lie, right? If she knew offhand that there was no lemongrass chicken, she would have told me when she took my order, or maybe she could have come out of the kitchen and warned me that my order wasn’t available.
But no, she put this Pandan Fried Chicken in front of me. Did they think I wouldn’t notice? Somebody made a mistake, and it wasn’t me.
She apologized and offered to comp my coffee.
Fine, I said. I’ll eat this. I was hungry. It was delicious, of course. The chicken was very juicy. I would consider ordering it again, without the grocery-store sauce.
Later when I went up to pay, I saw that she had written “lemongrass chicken” on the ticket.
What happened? Was it a lie? Maybe it was all true, but somebody somewhere decided just to put another chicken dish in front of me, and either hope that I would either be cool or too stupid to notice. If they had left it to me, I would have ordered bistek instead. How do you serve somebody fried chicken unintentionally?
Anyway, I’m not sure if it was a lie. What I am sure of, though, is that I drove home thinking of all the various times Filipinos–mostly family members–have lied to me because they think I wouldn’t raise a stink or that I wouldn’t know any better. Yah yah, just tell him whatever, he’ll never know the difference.
So what I’m saying is that I drove home fucking furious.
I do not have the coping mechanism to just let go of anger like some people do. Some people call it “resentment” and “grudge-holding” but I call it “learning,” and “not-repeating-avoidable-mistakes.” And believe me, I have a lot of anger that’s related to this kind of shut-up-and-eat-it situation. I am pretty sure that the next time I smell a lie like that, I am going to make someone lose a lot of face in public.
Looking back now, I wish I had left the restaurant when I didn’t get what I ordered. I wouldn’t have caused a scene, I would have smiled and left. They didn’t have what I ordered. But instead I was cool and I played ball… and now as a consequence I’m angry, and those other people are just going on with their lives.