With women from the Middle East, due to cultural reasons and perhaps my own misconceptions, I try to give them a wide berth. So when I was at a KFC and this woman and her young daughter, who were obviously tourists, were ordering after me, as I sat down and waited for my number to get called, I shoved the seat next to me a bit farther. I wanted to give them space when they sit down.
Before the woman sat down however, she dragged the seat even further from me. I didn’t know how to take that. “Was there something about me?”
“Don’t be silly!” I thought.
They finally called my number and I went to the counter. As I was picking up some extra napkins, my food from the counter disappeared just as I turned back to it. Then I looked back, and the woman’s kid grabbed my food, brought it to her mother; and they were rifling through my burger, chicken, and fries.
I didn’t say anything and waited for them to realize their mistake. I also thought that maybe I made the mistake and didn’t hear my number correctly.
But when they finally realized their error, they went back to the counter and tried giving me back my meal with the woman saying, “No touch! No touch!” my original tower burger hastily wrapped in an amateur fashion.
I have OCD when it comes to germs so I wasn’t about to eat it. I could just imagine that hyperactive kid’s fingers all over my food or their spittle all over my fries and custard.
“No touch! No touch!” she kept saying. I ain’t touching that either, lady.
So I just forced a smile and asked the lady behind the counter for a replacement. Both she and I kinda just rolled our collective eyes at the incident.
Not once did I hear sorry from the woman nor her kid.
After waiting 7 minutes for my replacement meal, I went to the dining area. I sat there shoving chicken down my mouth as I glared at this woman and her kid. My OCD started kicking in when I realized they didn’t replace my tray nor my Coke. Also, my chicken was suspiciously cold. What else did they have their spit and their fingers all over? Visions of National Geographic footage of microscopic creatures I saw when I was a child kept repeating on a loop in my head as I ate. “What else did that kid touch before going into the restaurant? Do either of them have a cold. Do I hear sniffling? Is it cold in this restaurant?”
“Wait, why am I obsessing over this?! Is it because they’re Middle-Eastern? Am I being racist?! Surely, not. But why the focus on diseases?! Hey wait a minute, I’m sure I’d be a little bit grossed out regardless of who the person inadvertently had their dirty hands all over my food. But why say ‘dirty?!’ What is going on really?! And why is this chicken so cold?”
Worst KFC experience ever. I think I’m going to have indigestion.
Now, there’s really no big revelation from the whole experience. No truths about Middle-Eastern women nor tourists. These facts are just incidental… details, mere details to color the incident. What bothers me however is the fact that no matter how emphatic we sometimes try to be towards other people, it’s annoying when they don’t bother reciprocating the same thoughtfulness. It’s not owed, but it sure would’ve been nice. I’m sitting there, trying to think about other people, and later they just grab people’s meals willy-nilly. And in the end, I end up eating a suspicious meal, obsessing about germs and PC culture, staring and probably menacing a couple of tourists.