The Hainanese Delights Politeness Experiment

Flash MobI honestly think that flash mobs are great, so this explains the photo of the random dancing people in front of a certain drugstore that my buddies and I have encountered a few days ago, whilst we acquisitively get pleasure from the air-conditioning of the mall. It’s really hot nowadays. Summer is no joke in this country, and there are nights when I even wake up with my entire bed seemingly damp from sweat.

Now on to the main subject – Hainanese Delights. I eat this dish twice, if not thrice, a week. Though I prefer the steamed version. It’s because it reminds me of the two-dollar chicken rice dishes that I ate day after day when I was still living in Singapore. The Singaporean-Chinese butcher at Paya Lebar would look at me and know exactly what I would order and what condiments to give me. I favored the sweet soy sauce rather than the spicy one because I liked it when it combined with the Chinese chili. Needless to say, I like chicken and rice together very much. And with the advent of Hainanese chicken rice here in the Philippines, I was ecstatic to try it out without more ado.

One day, I decided to try out this dish at a new branch – the one located inside the mall where the very drugstore on the photo at the beginning of this post can be found. This particular branch, however, was exceedingly different from the branch where I usually eat. It was jam-packed with people, very noisy, and a tad intimidating. It was near dinner time, and it was the ‘rush hour’ of the fast food joints. I was hungry, but I was willing to wait an hour for my food if it came down to it. Thus, I decided to do a little experiment on the service industry. Considering the high volume of starving and irate customers coming right then and there, I made a decision to be as polite as possible and see where a little kindness to our decent workers like waitresses could take me. Thus, the Hainanese Delights Politeness Experiment begun. O’, and by the way, in case you are wondering, this is what the  Hainanese Delights meal looks like: (Perhaps I should have added the photo earlier in the post. Nah, nevermind.)

Hainanese Delights

(Note: The image above belong to their respective owners. Will upload an original photo when I get the chance.)

I approached the counter and ordered cordially. However, I also ordered a lot of additional stuff like extra Hainan sauce, extra water, et cetera. There was no available seat just yet, and every single one of the waitresses was so busy that each of them was running all over the place. I asked the woman at the counter nicely if there was a seat available. I didn’t get a well-rounded response, but of course, I understood perfectly why that’s so. The woman was puzzled beyond belief, surveying the entire restaurant for a place for me to sit. I could feel the futility in her efforts, so I told her, again quite nicely, that I would just wait for somebody to leave. She looked immensely relieved and continued to go about her business of taking orders. That wasn’t so bad. The woman wasn’t mean to me or anything, but since she had a lot on her plate, she just grabbed the chance I gave her to ignore a paying customer. I waited patiently for a seat, which I had had no sooner than expected.

There was a family gathering beside me, and it was very obnoxious. On the far north of where I sat, a lone chubby Chinese-looking man sat, scribbling at his notebooks which lay on the table in a quite disorganised state. He looked mad, and I reckoned he was making all the loud angry calls on his phone prior to my arrival. On the far left, a couple sat, obviously starving by the looks in their faces that stared deeply into the poster of afternoon promos the restaurant was offering. On my right, there was a group of teenagers, all of them wearing brightly coloured shirts and very heavy ‘blings.’ Not so far from me, three groups of people sat, famished and gawking at the food chute where they watched closely if the food that came out next was theirs. All of these groups of people had arrived before I did, but things weren’t going as smoothly for them I am afraid, at least, service wise.

The woman at the counter knew that I was alone, and I think I was easier to neglect than anybody else. But because of the graciousness I showed earlier, I felt her need to reciprocate the pleasantries. Thus, my glass of water arrived before the waitress attended to the group of teenagers beside me. I was glad that my experiment was working, and it wasn’t my intention to delay the food of the other customers. I was just as hungry as well, and therefore, I deserved to get food as fast as possible as anybody else. I, then, asked for some more ginger sauce so I could start mixing my perfect combo of condiments. By that moment, the family gathering was growing agitated. There were just glasses of water on their table, and no food made their way for what I surmise was already an hour. The waitresses were talking to each other, clearly panicking at the surplus of customers and the lack of manpower to meet the need.

A few minutes later, to my surprise, my condiments arrived much earlier than anybody else’s food. I was beginning to enjoy it. I could have sworn that the cashier has given me a silent nod, as she instructed the waitresses to cater to my need before anyone else. I guess being a bit understanding really breaks a lot of boundaries. Most of the people inside that restaurant were very angry. I could hear swearing, whilst I ate my Hainanese chicken rice, which by the way, arrived much swifter than the other tables. The group of teenagers eyed me and my food maliciously, and it ignited fire in their behinds to complain. However, that was their demise. Instead of looking at the big picture in which those servers were working hard just to keep up on everybody’s orders, everyone complained instead. Most of them felt violated that their hard-earned money didn’t give them the dining experience they deserved. Honestly, I get it. I work hard, so I must get fine stuff and service, right? However, being courteous and kind is much more divine. It releases goodness out of people, and thus, it makes an individual truly deserving of the best things and experiences in life.

It sounds cliché, but be kind and polite to people today. Who knows what politeness may bring you?