Saturday, September 09, 2006

the prank call

Before I moved to Korea for the second time in 2002, I'd been living in a studio apartment in northern Virginia since late 1998. Like many tenants, I had a habit of ordering out from the local pizza and Chinese food joints. Service from those places was occasionally snotty. One call to the local Domino's pizza went something like this:

TEEN GUY: Thank you for calling Domino's Pizza. May I take your order?

ME: Uh, yeah. I'd like a medium, thin-crust pepperoni pizza, a 2-liter bottle of Pepsi, and some cheese sticks.

TEEN GUY (chuckling): Dude. You're hungry.

Snotty customer service is pancultural, I've come to realize. You start to expect it. The problem is that, if you're too jaded about it, you leave yourself open to prank calls. Here's what happened to me one time while at the NoVA apartment: I had just ordered and eaten some Chinese food when the following call arrived:

CHINESE-SOUNDING GUY: This is Chinese restaurant.

ME: Yes?

CHINESE-SOUNDING GUY: You order not complete!

ME (silent, bewildered): ...?

GUY: You order not complete!

ME (trying to recover): What? I-- I ordered as much as I wanted to order! What are you talking about?

GUY: No! Order not complete!

ME (again reduced to stammering): ...?

And then-- maniacal laughter on the other end. It was my brother David. That had to be one of the best acting jobs he'd ever done on me. I was truly stressed, too-- I had just ordered Chinese food, so it was entirely plausible that the restaurant might call back about a problem. But, no-- David's call was simply a matter of inadvertently good timing. He really had me going.

I've been sitting in my dorm room all day today, thinking about Mr. Kim's sudden death. I went out for a bit in the late evening and discovered it was quite cool, which was welcome. It occurred to me that Mr. Kim will never again experience the cooling transition from summer to fall; his time is up. And so, as is my wont, I've been looking for bits of humor to cheer me up, and for whatever reason, this remembrance of my brother David burbled to the muddy surface of my consciousness. So I thought I'd share it with you. The comedian Carlos Mencia apparently has a motto: "If you're not laughing, you're not living." Amen to that. Cherish every moment, and grab what cheer the world offers you while you can.

I promised my buddy Mike that I'd record a birthday message for my goddaughter, who turns 10 on the 10th. Keeping my goofy brother David in mind, I think I can make a spirited recording now. Earlier today, I couldn't have.


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