May 10, Saturday

On Wednesday, my friend Hedy called, back in Hong Kong for the break…  She was considering a visit to Utah…

On Thursday, one of those Chinese-looking girls smiled at me as they went to their bus stop.  Not much of a smile, though.  After the closer look, I started thinking they were more Japanese-looking, and that they weren’t as cute as I had assumed they were.

On Thursday night there was a nice long string of deliveries.  At the last house, the eleventh, I got out of the car and heard a hissing sound, as if somebody’s sprinklers were on.  Then I noticed it was coming from my car… …my front left tire.

I used the lady’s phone to call my house, and my mother came and fetched me.  She took me to work so I could exchange money (I made 70 for the night) and then back to the car.  My car was equipped with a spare tire, but I had no tools.  She had a jack set in her truck.  We changed the tire and she followed me home.  The drive was noticeably smoother than before…

…The next morning I drove that tire to work and then stopped at the tire store on the way back, the one my parents had taken me to last December or whenever.  At that visit, my mom was able to get an estimate of $350 for the whole job from this Hispanic guy (citing a recent deal they had of aligning the tires for free), but this time it was a different guy (Kris) who “wasn’t sure where I got” that amount.  He told me the 40,000-mile tires (their cheapest) would be $412.  He said it would take two hours.  I got my Korean book and sat down…  Precisely two hours later, he brought in my keys, and I went and paid $416 (with tax).  He told me “there was a crack” in my hubcap that they glued.  He explained that my tire had “separated”, and that undoubtedly had been the cause of my wobbly steering.  He showed me the diagnostic print-out which depicted a substantial misalignment with the previous tires.  He told me tire rotation was free there, to be done every 5,000 miles.  I thanked him and went out to my car.  The whole hubcap of that front left tire was broken in half and re-affixed, surely the result of a careless removal.  Some of the paint was scratched off the edges of some of the other hubcaps.  I made up my mind to be sure to remove my own hubcaps myself before ever getting new tires again.  He was right about the tire imbalance; the steering on the way home was like a dream, perfectly smooth and hyper-responsive.

Well, if my tires ever start to fray again, I’ll know I don’t have long before deflation…  I documented at least 800 miles, but I estimate I drove about 1,000 miles between the time the first metal fibres appeared on the tire’s surface and the time the leak sprang — about two weeks of driving.  The roads around here have been in poor condition, too.

Friday night was hectic.  The girls at work inexplicably refused to help in the kitchen, insisting on giving instantaneous service to the walk-in customers instead.  I told them to just let those people wait (which they usually do anyway).  They didn’t listen.  I tried to assemble the orders myself, but I lacked experience.  As a result, nearly all of the orders were finished late and delivered even later.  Besides that, I had to re-visit some locations because neighbouring orders weren’t ready on time, bumping up my mileage.  Lastly, there were several out-of-the-way addresses that screwed up the other deliveries.  I really don’t like those far houses…  Canton Village had a much better system of having a limited delivery area, inside of which the further-away addresses were charged extra.  We used to charge far orders extra here, but now we charge everybody alike at Hunan Garden, holding the close orders hostage to the far ones.  Anyway, when in a rush, I’ve stopped caring if the far addresses are delivered on time — I take them last.  Maybe they’ll get the hint.  (I especially don’t like it when I know those houses are within a mile or two of other restaurants — including Canton Village — and instead they choose Hunan, four miles away.  Well, good for us if we can get their business; except then we need to think about hiring another delivery driver so service doesn’t languish.)

We’re missing a certain business sense at that restaurant.  We don’t seem to realize that excessive demand requires a counterbalance, either by expanding somehow (hiring more workers in this case), by raising prices, or by slowing down our service or simply turning away customers; so when it gets busy, we try to accommodate everybody and life becomes miserable for everybody.  Maybe the profit is slightly larger for the boss, but in the end it will destroy morale.  Also, there are several less-than-perfectly-sanitary practices in our kitchen which we seem to just get away with because we’re a Chinese restaurant.  I think they don’t even know any better.  Third, the manager has recently started adding a dollar surcharge to all deliveries, as I mentioned… but we still display this big sign, now dishonest, out on the roof, “Free Delivery”.  Even when there was a dollar charge for far deliveries, none of it went to me.  The universal charge now doesn’t go to me either.  If the restaurant just wants to pocket this extra money, and if I’m still satisfied to even work there (I am, because I still make enough), then we instead need to pay for amended menus that increase the prices of the dishes directly, not just tack on this hidden delivery charge.  Or else just tell people about it up front; but then, better explain to customers that it doesn’t go towards the driver at all so they won’t slacken their tips.

On the other hand, the laxity is refreshing.  You can get days off whenever.  The manager doesn’t seem to mind letting the employees eat there, and it’s not all militaristic like at Canton Village, where you can’t even sit down (unless doing some work that requires sitting).  You don’t get scolded for being two minutes late.  And at Canton Village, that guy really squeezed the work out of you — you got your fair pay as a driver, which was a good amount, but you got nothing for all the work you were expected to do inside the restaraunt.  Even if the pay was good, it wasn’t that good, justifying doing the work of two employees.  But the killer there was the strictness and hardness of the boss, not the workload.  He wanted subordinates, not colleagues.

Anyway, I think we could tighten up things without sacrificing the enjoyable work atmosphere, but maybe they’ll always be two ends of the same stick.

Alex called me last night…

I’m really kind of weirded out by girls actually liking me, girls that I might not necessarily dislike, but that I haven’t been aiming for…  I don’t know what to do.  I don’t want to chase them away, but I don’t want to accept them either…

Well, it’s never helpful to a guy’s sense of commitment to be rejected by the ones he actually commits to.  He might not rebound from that.  Girls, maybe they also don’t recover, but they seem more emotionally resilient to me.

Anyway… I don’t… really want… anybody… right now… which is a strange and disturbing feeling…  For a long time, I’ve “needed” people, I’ve been dependent.  Now, I’m actually happy being alone…  Friends, companions… I don’t really want them anymore.  I don’t trust them in any way.  They drain you.  They need so much.  They all will leave you, in the end.  As many as I’ve met who have insisted that at least THEY were different from the others… have all ended up the same.  Such ignorance.

I know this distrust came from my Korean friend…  But, is it final?  I wonder if Rekha Selvaratnam and I would’ve worked out…

Yes, I think we would have.  I was willing to give her a chance.  I tried to be plain and sincere with her.  Maybe another one will work out too, some day.

…Or maybe I would have left Rekha, in the end…

Ah, I feel bad…  I hope I can ever love somebody again, as brilliantly as before… but…

…What?

But, it’s evil.  That’s the love that kills.

…But evil or not, it’s true love, isn’t it?  To give everything to one you love?

But our hearts belong to God… if only because he’s the only one who deserves them, the only one who won’t betray us.  If any dying person were as worthy, then we would worship them also… but no matter how well anybody’s earthly love goes, it’s only circumstance that has kept them from betraying each other.  In the right setting, they would all, all turn against each other.  I’m sure of this.

Then… I’ll never admit it, but still there’s the possibility that… maybe… I would even have left my Korean friend, if she hadn’t done it first.

Well, I won’t marry any but one who’s had the disloyalty burned out of them.  True love is a consuming fire.  Let’s see if any girl can endure it.



…Ah… why have I been so tortured, to say such things?  But it’s opened my eyes…

…But… even with eyes open, what do I see except darkness?  God is light, not darkness…

…Marriage is not for love.  Humanity is for love; marriage is for reproduction.

Then, whether friend or lover, if they all will betray you under the right influence, and none is faithful… then what can we do except exert ourselves to eradicate those influences of infidelity?  The more perfect we are to them, the less circumstance will tempt them to betrayal of us.  This is a probation; if we are already convicted and prone to crime, then let us still avoid the crime as long as possible.  Maybe in the end, our pretended loyalty will set us free.

God’s work, isn’t it to reach out to us inferiors?  If he doesn’t trust what we are, then doesn’t he trust what we can become?

Can we become faithful, after enough forgiveness of our betrayal?

…Then… should I not forgive… her…?  …Again and again, every time I’m tempted to blame her, until I’m dead…?

And take all people on an equal ground… forgiving them before ever meeting them?

That’s hope…  That’s light… with eyes still open…

-Steve

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