Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Mi Xian Ladies

I get up every morning around 6.30am and review my Chinese text and my Chinese vocab for the day. Afterwards I take a cold shower and get dressed and head to the noodle restaurant around the corner from my dorm. They open around 7.30am and I am usually their first costumer. I can't function without breakfast in my stomach and nothing else is open around that time. However, I really have started to like their noodle soup in the mourning. In Chinese it is called 'Mi Xian' (米线= rice threads). It's a big bowl with these rice noodles, tofu skin, chicken and broth. I usually determine how good my day will be based on the meat I get. (White meat= great day, only odd and unidentifiable parts of the chicken= not so good).
The reason why I like the place so much is because its in a garage like room and its being run by these eight hard working women that are there everyday from before 7.30am until 8 or 9 pm. They all wear these great hats with different chinglish sentences on them and the same apron.
I really love going, because I can sit in peace and quiet, slurp my noodles as loud as I want, and review a bit more before class at 8.30am.

This morning something so simple but amazing happened and it made me incredibly happy. Here is what happened:

Usually the process of ordering is very simple. I just walk up, the woman sitting at the cashier just says 'Yao Chi Shenme' (要吃什么?= what do you want to eat) and I reply 'da wan ji rou mi xian' (大碗鸡肉米线 = big bowl chicken meat rice noodles). Then the cashier screams at the top of her lungs "da wan ji rou mixian" so that the kitchen knows what to prepare. (Her voice cracks EVERY TIME at least 5 times.)
I have tried every day to get a smile out of her by giving her a friendly smile, but I had little luck before spring festival. They simply told me to sit down and wait for my noodles. (nothing rude, but simply just indifferent)
Over spring festival I didn't go for over a week, because they were closed. But when I returned last Monday I walked up as usual. The cashiers head was buried in a drawer and she was counting cash. When I stepped up to wait for her question, she looked up, recognized me and gave me a smile. That's really it. That was everything that happened. But I was so happy because I knew that all my time invested in being friendly to them and showing them that I really appreciate their job worked!
Today I went as usual and she again gave me a big smile, I wished her a good morning and she yelled out my order without me even having to say it.

I felt incredibly accomplished.

With everything frustrating that happens during my day, with having to hear sexist or inappropriate comments, having no hot water, a leaking toilet and much more, these simple moments simple make all that vanish. Its an incredibly good feeling.

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