I had a proper paroxysm of anger today, and it had to do with lunch. Ridiculous but true.
It all started when I ordered a fried noodle with spicy veg, but discovered spicy mixed beef instead when I uncovered the takeaway. At first, I thought I’d just call the shop, let them know they made a mistake, and resign myself to eating round the beef (I’m still not eating meat intentionally). Instead, I found myself riled up by their nonchalance (was told I should have just gone down and asked for a new takeaway instead of calling, cos they were so very busy) that I thought, right, I want a refund.
So I went down 18 floors, crossed two streets and a side alley, and strode into the shop, all the while asking not to be so darned angry, cos in my experience that’s never come to any good and would only end with me becoming unhinged at the shop. “And the LORD said, ‘Is it right for you to be angry?'” (Jonah 4:3–4) also streaked through my head. I thought, OK, all I’m going to do is ask for a refund and say I don’t have time to wait for another dish to be cooked. However, my curt request was refused flat out by the manager who’d recorded the wrong order in the first place.
So I had to wait and stew in my juices of passionate hostility. In order to work off the steam and prevent it from turning into streams of angry tears (unfortunately for my dignity, anger usually ends in such misery with me), I paced back and forth in front of the shop, literally blowing off steam through my mouth.
I was, like, what the heck? Why so angry, huh? Why was I entertaining visions of telling anyone who wanted to go into the shop that it was a colossally bad idea? Would I have died if I’d eaten meat? Was my time so precious that it couldn’t be wasted by anyone? (Goodness knows I waste plenty of it myself.) Was my need for respect so great that it mustn’t ever be disparaged by anything at all? Well, I was still angry, pure and simple, and that was the fact I had to deal with.
When the takeaway was ready, the offending manager was gone, but a server was still there. I thought, all right, I’ll tell this guy that I’m going to write about the service at Openrice.com so there’s a record of what’d happened. But before I could articulate that thought, he gave an apology mixed with just the right dose of regret, which somehow made me feel all better. Why? I decided not to say anything further, turned on my heels, and left.
Then on my way up 18 floors again, I met a colleague who let off peals of laughter when I muttered I’d just been engaged in a fracas, which helped put things in perspective a bit more. I thought, fine, I won’t leave a comment on Openrice.com then. Let’s just get this meal over and done with. Well, the noodles turned out to be too oily and I’d lost my appetite by then, since I had 一肚子火 — a stomachful of fire — and also 气饱了, that is, the anger had filled my tummy in lieu of food, so I wasn’t hungry anymore.
I think I really need to start changing my relationship with food or deal with some weird lunch-related anger issues that have been simmering away below the surface. Or maybe it’s homesickness. Whatever it is, I’m going to tread softly around me for a while. Maybe start bringing packed lunches to work. Or stop eating alone.