Thursday, May 11, 2006

How I Get Free Food

I've become an user. Lately I have deliberately befriended a guy who works as a manager in a Chinese restaurant near where I live. The first time I ate there by myself, he started talking to me and was not too annoying. The way he talks is still real and doesn't sound Americanized like immigrants who have been here a while. He's got hair in this buzz-cut style that only convicts in China get, and I feel nostalgic of my past whenever I see it. His face lights up everytime I come in the door, and that makes me somehow feel acknowledged in a city of strangers. After I went there a few times, the discounts started...the tab would be $12.30 and he would only take 10 dollars from me, and so on.

My mom always said never take anything for free without paying for it somehow, and I wasn't sure I could go out with him without feeling like selling myself. The solution was: I could help him with anything language-related. Last weekend I was helping him check out how to rent parking spaces from another store nearby. Today I went with him to the Kew Gardens courthouse to pay a fine. I was so flustered and confused by the lack of directions there that I almost ended up in the line for marriage licenses, I hope he didn't realize my mistake.

After we got back, he offered me free dishes as payment as usual. I chose this pig kidney stir-fry and a bean curd salad. Both are greasy and filling on a chilly day in May.

I already have free medical advice from Dr. Zhou, now I can get free dinner too, what's next, free clothes? I'll see how low I can sink.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

The immigration protests have come and gone; the senate is deciding on this issue in less than two weeks. I'm surprised by how detached I feel...Is it because I've been here a while and feel more assimilated? Or have I absorbed some of the self-absorbedness of typical New Yorkers?

I'm more concerned with some stuff I'm doing for Mao Mao at work. There are these receipts I have to file as business expenses, some of them are from restaurants, and I was surprised at how high they were, given that they're just meals. Then it dawned on me, he must have asked the restaurant owners (some of whom he knew) to fake the higher amounts so he'd get more money back. I've heard about people who have fake companies here doing this. It's not right, but for now I'll have to play along.