Monday, November 29, 2010

Pidgeon English and Popeye's Chicken

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

(Rock's Note:  I got home from Korea Sunday night only to find that my Internet connection at home got screwed up while I had my computer unplugged and with me on the trip.  Consequently, I am having to blog on base during lunch at a small Internet cafe.  My Okinawan blog is being completely neglected - sorry about that!  Due to the fact that I have lunch on my mind, today's missive deals with one of my lunch routines at Kadena.)

The number of places to dine on base is very limited and almost all are American fast food franchises.  Usually I try to mix it up a little, hitting a different place every day.  That works for about a week!

One of the primary functions of the American military in Japan appears to be to provide jobs for the local nationals.   There was an election for Governor of Okinawa this past Sunday and both of the main candidates ran on platforms of limiting American military expansion on the island.  One candidate seemed to be advocating the removal of all American troops.  He lost.  The politicians took those positions because that is what a big portion of the voting public appears to desire.  But the removal of American troops would create an immediate economic crisis of gigantic proportions to the thousands of Okinawans whose livelihood revolves around the many American military bases housed on this small island.

Almost all of the employees of the fast food joints on the military bases are Okinawan, and while all of those people speak English, few do so with much proficiency - so what one orders is likely to not always be exactly what one gets.

As an example, once a week or so I go to Popeye's Chicken to place my standard order at the drive-up window.  What I want are two pieces of chicken breast (mild), one biscuit with honey, and a large unsweet iced tea with heavy ice.  I don't think that in twenty trips or so that I have ever gotten exactly what I ordered.  The chicken is sometimes spicy, the tea is often sweet - sometimes with little or no ice, and the biscuit...well, the biscuit is a major deal!  Some of the employees think that a biscuit automatically comes with each chicken breast, so if I order one biscuit I may get three.  But, when I try to outsmart them and not order a biscuit, chances are I won't get any!  Usually there will be no honey, but the absolute most that I ever receive is one packet per biscuit - must be a company, cheap-ass policy.

Needless to say, with the various items that may wind up in my lunch sack, the total due at the window is never the same.

It is useless to try to straighten things out, because questions from customers only cause more confusion.  I take what I am given and drive off quietly, thankful that I am at least getting something for lunch!

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