An Experience: Nice or Not nice?

Lee Lee’s interior. This was taken some time ago, not the other day.

The other day I went to Lee Lee, it’s an international/oriental supermarket in Tucson, AZ. For me it’s basically like a paradise, one of my secrets of survival living away from home. Why? Well, Lee Lee sells stuff that I cannot in the US mainstream grocery stores such as Walmart, Fry’s, or other places. Lee Lee provides almost all kind of veggies and fruits as well as seafood from back home (actually, mostly from Asia). I can buy something like jackfruit, nata decoco, longan, lemon grass, galangal, long bean, tempe, instant spices, indomie, etc. (I can mention more but then it would be too long of a list. Haha) But anyway, Lee Lee is quite far from my apartment, and since I don’t have a car I would have to take a bus there and it takes around 1hour-ish. Far, right? Thus, every time I go there I always try to stock things like buying a lot of stuff and store it in my refrigerator or freezer so that I don’t have to go there often (to save time, in addition to my not so fond of shopping). I remember back then I even brought my suitcase so that it would be easier to carry the produce and rice since I was taking the bus alone 🙈💁.

Another view of Lee Lee (and my shopping cart 🙈😅✌)

But the other day, one of my Indonesian friends (let’s call him Mas K) asked if I wanted to join him to go to Lee Lee. He’s got a car so of course I said yes. It means I can shop a lot and I don’t have to worry about carrying my grocery from the store to the bus stop, and from the bus stop to my apartment. Hallelujah! So, well, we went with his wife and baby and another Indonesian friend (let’s call him Mas D). And it so happened that on that very day there was a celebration of Chinese New Year so we got to see a beautiful lion dance when we were shopping. But that’s not what I want to talk about.

Anyway, since we took our own shopping cart, so we went about getting the grocery on our own. Before I finished shopping, Mas K told me that he was in the restaurant next to Lee Lee in case I wanted to find him. So after paying for my grocery and watching the lion dance (we call it Barongsai in Bahasa Indonesia, by the way), I went to the restaurant to see him and his family. And, oh, before that, I ran to Bu F (that’s the lovely Indonesian lady here in Tucson, she’s helped us students a lot!) and she said that I’ve got to stay longer and chat with her since we haven’t met and talked for a while. That is why I went to the restaurant.

Entering the restaurant, I went straight to where my friend, Mas K and his family, was. They were about to finish the food so I sat on their table, then Mas D and I asked for the waitress to take our order. A lady came and wrote our order, and so we waited. Then Bu F came and wanted to join us, but Mas K and his family wanted to leave for a while since he had to buy something for the baby. He paid at the cashier and left.

The Lion Dance(rs).

AND THEN…Bu F asked for a waitress to order her food, but GUESS what? The lady, it’s different from the lady who took my and Mas D’s orders, was upset. She started reprimanding Bu F saying that she shouldn’t do that, that she should sign in first. She can’t just join Mas K, me, n Mas D, especially because by the time she came to our table, Mas K’s leftover was still on the table and he has left. (Maybe she thought he hasn’t paid, I don’t know). But she said all of that in a loud voice. So loud that I felt everyone stared at us, looked at our direction. I felt bad, and at the same time sorry. So I said, sorry. BUT she ignored it; she got even madder saying something like, “You can’t say sorry, my customers might have left.” She said it so loudly I thought she was yelling! So now she directed her anger not only at Bu F but also at me and Mas D. I went completely silent. I was mad. I knew I might have been wrong but that’s not how you should’ve treated us. Well, ok, since I’m wrong so maybe I don’t get to choose as how I should be treated. Still, she could’ve been nicer. But anyway, Bu F talked in Bahasa with Bu S. That’s another family that we met that day; it’s such a nice coincidence. Bu S was Chinese so apparently she knew about the Lion Dance, and she also celebrated Chinese New Year. So yeah, Bu F told Bu S that the waitress lady was complaining and whining about her joining our table without signing in or standing in line or waiting to b seated. The lady apparently heard it but she didn’t understand Bahasa so maybe she was worried that we were going to give a bad review, I don’t know. But then she came back to our table saying with a softer voice, saying something like “I don’t know what you talked about with your friend but I just don’t want other customers to complain to me, ok?” Well, earlier she said the same thing but with half-yelling! And no, honey, you don’t be good to others not to save your face/reputation. You should be nice to others because that’s how you should be!

Fine, you might think I’m the one whining, but here are the things! 1) I once ate there with another friend and we didn’t need to do any sign-in. They just asked us to sit and take our order, and that’s it (later I told her this story and asked her to confirm this). 2) Apparently, on that tragic day when the lady got upset, it was a busy hour and some people were lining up to be seated. Trust me, I didn’t think they were lining up when I came in. I honestly thought they were lining up to get some food to go. I was wrong, ok. 3) When the lady mentioned something about signing-in, I seriously thought that Mas K has signed in for me and Mas D as well. Apparently, he didn’t. Later when I told him this story and asked bout the sign-in stuff, he told me that he didn’t sign in; when he came in from Lee Lee the store, he was just asked to directly sit and order. 4) There are two doors to get to the restaurant. One is inside, connecting it to Lee Lee, so from Lee Lee we can go there without going out first or from the restaurant we can go straight to shop in Lee Lee. The other door is straight from the outside/parking lot. When I first went there, I went in from the inside door. This time I went in twice from inside and then outside. Mas K came in from Lee Lee’s side. Bu F entered from there as well.

You’ve got the picture now? I mean, I know I sound like making excuses. I should’ve stood in line. I should’ve signed in first before joining Mas K and ordering my food. BUT I’ve never needed to do it before so I didn’t know. Besides, when they took my order, they didn’t say anything. When the lady was scolding Bu F loudly, I felt like leaving right then but I had made my order and it hadn’t arrived so I couldn’t really leave. I felt so bad I actually lost my appetite (by the way, I wasn’t going to give bad review for the food. I only ordered two kinds of food for the two times I went there. Still, what’s the use of good food if you aren’t treated nicely that your appetite is finally gone?). I felt bad and guilty. Ok, I might have been wrong. Well, ok, I was wrong. BUT, if she had just told me (and Bu F) nicely to leave the table, sign in, stand in line, and wait to be seated, I would have gladly done that! Bu F would’ve understood as well. I’m sure of it. But the lady didn’t do it. She chose to yell and get mad at us. I understand, but it makes me feel like the worst person in the world. Maybe not because she yelled and people stared at us (I HATE SUCH ATTENTIONS!), but more because I was doing something I hate. I don’t like cutting a line. I don’t like people to cut my line. But that’s exactly what I did, though I had no idea about it. Still.

Well, it had happened before. In a halal meat store. I thought nobody was in line and I just went straight to the cashier, but then I realized that two people were actually in line. I was embarrassed; I apologized to each of them. They were cool with it (maybe because I shopped only a little?). Well, I felt bad, but they were so nice that I could finally forgive myself. But this time it’s different. I come to hate myself now. How did I do this twice? How come I let myself do that? And the lady yelled. People stared at me. And I wear hijab; I’m Indonesian. Oh, ok, I might have gone too far. But I don’t want people to see Muslims and Indonesians as bad because of me, because I did something stupid like that. I don’t know; I feel bad, but at the same time mad thinking of the lady’s not so nice words and treatment. Do you think I should go back and eat there again? Or, no?

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