As I write this I am dreaming of making promotional videos to improve the public relations this restaurant has destroyed recently. Cut to me eating sushi and saying “oishi” which means delicious in Japanese. Or I might even do the video all in Korean saying “if you want to have a pleasant experience while you eat delicious food come here!”
Translation: “맛있는 음식을 먹을때 좋은 경험 있으면 조겠으면 여기오세요!” — probably a poor tanslation
Today after watching a performance with my family at Culver City’s Turning Point School, my sister, niece, and I made a stop at Yokohama Sushi. I was excited because I have seen this place countless times while moving around Culver City, but never had the opportunity to enjoy their food. It was my sister’s decision to eat here so I was looking forward to the experience.
Upon entering Yokohama we were greeted by our waitress who I assume said ‘welcome’ in Japanese. It was definitely Japanese. But since I am not as well versed in the Japanese language as I am in Korean I don’t know what she said. Anyhow, I greeted her with ‘Ohayo Gozaimas’ which as I am certain of means ‘good morning’ in Japanese. Our exchange continued:
Waitress: I am not Japanese. I am Korean.
Waitress: (to my sister) He is multilingual.
I then continued a conversation with the waitress in Korean. Come to find out we had several things in common including that her younger brother graduated from the university where I currently teach. She was very surprised by how much I knew about Korea and even more surprised that I can speak Korean pretty darn well.
She served our food. We ate. Service was adequate.
The bill arrived.
My sister and niece went into the bathroom. While I waited I decided to be a good uncle and brother so I paid for the meal. I, however, did not add a tip to the credit card slip. My reasons for doing so are just that, my reasons! The next sequence of events changed my day from smooth to unstable.
Darn that waitress for ruffling my feathers!
The waitress loudly says in front of the entire restaurant: “you don’t want to leave a tip?”
My sister upon hearing this was shocked because we being good customers always leave tips! I told my sister she could add a tip if she deemed it necessary, but I told her that I was not going to do it. The waitress continued about me not leaving a tip. She even went so far as to tell the other staff members that I wasn’t going to leave a tip. And she tried to guilt me into leaving a tip by mentioning that although I have lived in Korea over eight years where they don’t tip, (mind you) I was born an American so I should know that I must tip. But that’s the thing. I don’t have to. Her attempts to guilt me didn’t change my lack of a desire to leave a tip. It was more so that my sister was disappointed that I didn’t leave a tip that I felt bad.
Long story short —
I felt worse because my sister mini-lectured me about leaving tips in America. I had been to several restaurants while back in the States and I did not leave tips. I did not once hear anyone complain.
Feeling worse I pondered how I had changed over the years I had been living in Korea. I really took this experience to heart and imagined that I was to blame for what transpired. Mentally exhausted after the ordeal I went to sleep in the middle of the day, which I haven’t done since I returned to Los Angeles because my days have all been pleasant and refreshing. This incident however certainly pissed me off.
I awoke out of my midday to early evening slumber to the news of another young black male being shot in another American city. This news further compromised the feeble state I was in following today’s ordeal. I immediately began to imagine that waitress calling the cops because I was being a cheapskate. My imagination continued to fill with images of a cop showing up only to side with the nice Korean restauranteer. Then in summarial judgement right in the restaurant I imagined the cop shooting me to appease the waitress. Just another thug murder in ‘Merica.
At some point after awaking I got the idea to search the customer reviews on Yelp! about Yokohama Sushi. I was relieved to learn that other customers, many were dissatisfied with their experience there. More than one review even included people sharing their own horrible experiences with being ordered to tip! Unbelievable.
Personally, I am just relieved that I am not alone. So relieved.
And to think I was even considering putting in an application there to work. I thought they could use That Brotha in Asia. Perhaps I could give them a refresher course on public relations and customer service. Or at least I could teach them about tipping in the US. The waitress told me she’d lived here for thirteen years.