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A Chinese Food Story

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General Tso's

Yesterday, I woke up to find the $92 earned the night before had gone missing from my desk. In its place was $9. Since my bedroom door is locked at night and my roommates are two charming young women without a criminal history, deductions produced the hypothesis it was probably my fault the money was gone. Retracing events, memory conjured the food order the night before: Chinese delivery.  In preparation for gastronomic bliss, I set out two piles of money: one with $9, for the delivery man; and one with $83, for a deposit the next day. Going further into the mystery, conclusions suggested something extraordinarily stupid.  The delivery man got the best tip of his life.

Of course, realization hit me leaving for work, before the Chinese restaurant was open, without any hope of resolution till after my shift was over.  The story went over well at the bar and subsequent relief came in both sympathy and taunts from my peers.  As soon as the rush was over, my boss cut me, leaving me enough time to head to General Tsing’s.  The subway ride uptown was spent contemplating elaborate farces to win over the manager:

“I was paying too much attention to my sickly puppy to notice the money.”
“I was praying too hard for all of the sinners in the world.”
“I am blind.”

But in the end truth won out. This was a restaurant frequented since my college days.  They knew me on sight. My jolly old roommate used to inquire about how pregnant the woman was each time we saw her.  I’m sure we were one of the first to see the new baby girl’s pictures.  In short, she loved us. She greeted me and I started my rambling explanation.

“I’m sorry, but I think I gave your delivery guy too much money last night, cause, here’s what happened:  I put two piles of money on my desk, one for him and one for – ”
“Wait one second.”
She headed to the back, yelling something in Cantonese.
“You wait here, he on a delivery right now. I ask him when he come back.”
“Thank you so much.”

At this point, the first hurdle was was behind me.  The next ten minutes were an acute examination of budget and personal assistant apps on my phone.  Then he walked in. The moment was near.  She spoke to him and he came out bearing $70 asking if it was mine.

I am not known for being overly affectionate, but I nearly kissed him. I could have kissed her, but she is married and her very large, not-in-a-fat-way husband worked in the kitchen and I didn’t want to add that to the list of flubs for the day. She told me, very sweetly, that she had wondered where all this extra money came from last night and how made such a killing. He was very nice too, so I threw him an extra five for his trouble.

All in all, a miraculous ending to a seemingly innocuous cash transaction thrown out of whack by an extraordinarily stupid move on my part. But lesson learned. This evening,the money went straight to the ATM. And I made peanut butter and jelly.

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Written by Seth James

November 20, 2010 at 2:54 am