I don’t like to use the word “regret”, but I feel like it is appropriate for this story. In the mall there is a Japanese restaurant in the food court that has the best orange chicken and noodles I’ve ever had. This place has ruined me from having the same dish anywhere else because I know it won’t be as good.
I’ve been going there for about 4 years now. I had a job at a JC Penney in the same mall and used to eat there on my breaks every Sunday. Then my next job was at an Ashely Furniture right across the street from the mall, so my breaks consisted of the same meal.
I became such a regular that whenever I walked by, the Chinese workers at the counter would start preparing my dish. He would even give me more chicken and not charge me for it. If it was quiet, we would exchange some small talk and pleasantries.
Then one day it all ended. I took my girlfriend to the mall SPECIFICALLY to try out that special combination that pleasured my taste buds to no end. As we approached the food court I felt a great disturbance. There he was, that Philippian was being hauled away by a pair of men dressed in black overcoats. As he struggled to get free, our eyes locked. He screamed out “Joe Reyes!” and I reached out my hand and screamed “That Asian guy!” and that was the last I saw of him.
Actually, the story really was this; I took my girlfriend to the mall and the Japanese place was bought out by another company and under new management. But the Vietnamese man wasn’t there anymore. I assumed he owned the place and when he sold it he didn’t work there anymore.
That was the end of it. Simple, yet it was sad to me. 4 years of knowing someone, exchanging light conversation, yet I never knew his name. I don’t know why, but I really regret it. Maybe because the food there now is so horrific. Seriously, how do you screw up noodles? They were just plain noodles. And the chicken, don’t get me started on that. Okay I’ll tell you. It used to be big chunks full of life and Asian pride, now they are crispy and small. Almost like they were shrunken by being so overcooked.
So that’s my story. Doesn’t really sound like too big a deal, but I felt selfish after the place closed. The guy saw me as a regular, gave me extra food, asked me about my day, yet I didn’t even think to ask his name.