Chinese Buffet Smack Down

I am generally a shy person. I hate conflict. I don't like to complain. Making a scene makes me sweat.... until I'm wronged.

Tonight we went to dinner at a Chinese buffet. I didn't feel like cooking (traumatic day at work - post to follow), the kids love Chinese food, and I always think I do too. That is until I have inhaled my first plate of gooey, sweet, salty leather and my stomach starts to bloat. That's when I remember - oh, yea, I don't.

When we first arrive, the waitress asks how old the children are. I tell her two and six and we go about the business of stuffing our faces.

When we get the check it is listed as:
2 adults $21
2 kids $12

Now, I'm pretty sure we have never had to pay for the youngest before so I question the waitress. She tells me both kids are $5.50. Not convinced I get a menu and read this:

Dinner Buffet $9.50
Sunday Dinner Buffet $9.25 (ooo, a whole .25 savings!)

(and in a bold font separate from the above the price listings:)
Children under 10 1/2 price
Children three and under FREE!

When I point this out to the waitress she says that the bit about the kids only refers to Sundays. I say that can't be the case because Little Lady's meal was discounted; if the children's prices only apply on Sundays then logically all four of us should have been charged $9.50. No, no, only on Sundays. She circles the Sunday listing and walks away.

When another waitress comes by to clear the table I ask her to clarify our bill. Children free only on Sunday. Once again I share my logic that if the six-year was charged 1/2 price then the FREE! had to apply also. She says "I'll be back," and walks away. Never to return.

Four tables away from us is another couple with a toddler - probably a year younger than Tator. Emboldened by a now inflamed sense of justice, I ask the father if they were charged for their baby. No.

Alright then...

I march up to the register and tell the waitress/cashier that she cannot charge me for my baby when that couple was not charged for theirs. Flipping down through the pile of tickets she shows me where the "baby" was charged. Everyone the same, she says, gesturing to the room.

Noooo, that isn't their ticket. Theirs is on top, right there: 2 adults $21. I am NOT paying for the baby. You cannot charge me for my child and not charge another child!

Now, I have never had the desire to learn Chinese, but man! I wish I knew some right then. Out of this young woman's mouth comes this slew of what I can only assume to be Mandarin curses. She takes $3 off the bill. I would have given anything at that moment to be the hero in one of those movies where s/he breaks into Korean or Zulu to the complete surprise and humiliation of the anti-hero. Instead, I stand there acting all tough and menacing and wait while the cashier turns her back to count some money. When she faces my direction again I tell her she needs to take $5.50 off the bill, not just $3. And out comes another volley of verbal assault as she jaggedly changes the bill to "2 adults, 1 kid = $28." (I was not about to argue about the .50.)

I should mention that my husband is also very uncomfortable with conflict and even more so with making a scene. Using the age-old excuse of distracting a restless child, he had disappeared out of the restaurant at that first twitch of indignation on my face. He knows it well - and knows not to mess with it.

When I walked out of the restaurant feeling righteous and vindicated, he was far down the strip mall pretending he did not share my craziness or even my bed. But when I'm right, I'm right, damn it! And as I always say (in my unquestionable wisdom), "It's not $5, it's the principle!" In the name of The Principle, I have gotten us multiple hotel rooms refunded, meals discounted, and fees reversed.

I may now have a belly full of MSG and an ear full of Chinese wrath, but I also have $5 in my wallet and justice in my pocket. (High five!)

P.S. I am sorry (a little) that I caused that girl distress. She was probably just doing what her bosses had told her. BUT I believe the restaurant was trying to save money by being sneaky with their prices. AND she didn't have to be rude. I wasn't - I was just being emphatically logical, and if I hate anything, it's illogical, rude sneaks. So there.

P.P.S. I do know that $5.50 is not actually half of $9.50 but that didn't really seem to be the point at the time...

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Laura said...

Very impressive reaction. Not sure I would be up to it, but I would find the exact right cutting words on the car ride home.

I don't think accurate math is necessary in a fight for justice.

Holly Noelle said...

I need to grow a backbone. Good job sticking up for justice!