Post-Apocalyptic Boxing

Once upon a time, a lifetime ago it seems, I watched a night of boxing held in an empty ballroom.  We were innocents then, virgins as it were to quarantines and masks and watching sports reruns on YouTube.  Back then it was supposed that the thing to be avoided was a large crowd, so they held the fights with just the principals, their corner men, and their immediate families.  Some officials and cameramen rounded out the number. 

We briefly thought that was the new normal. I had no inkling that we were about to enter a dystopian world devoid of sport.

Then they canceled the NCAA tournament, then NBA, and NHL, and MLB and on and on.

Joyce vs. Dubois has been moved to July, as has Whyte vs. Povetkin.  All the news is about who wants who – Breazeale wants Ruiz, Usyk wants Fury, Whyte wants Miocic.  Miller just wants to fight. 

Fast forward to Easter Sunday and I went to Ying’s.  Ying’s is the neighborhood Chinese greasy-chopstick.  Every neighborhood has one, and if they don’t, they wish they did.  The food is good and inexpensive, the service unreliable but that’s okay when you can get soup, appetizers and entrees for two for $36.00. 

They have their menus printed on what look like placemats, laminated plastic affairs printed on both sides. One menu is westernized food, with your egg-foo this and moo-goo that, the other menu has authentic Chinese dishes.  

Looking online for the fish soup that Lisa likes (It’s one of the Chinese dishes), I  could I not find it.  I didn’t see any authentic dishes at all, except for a short list of “Chef Specials” on the last page. Wondering what was up, I drove down there to find out (It’s just two miles) and was surprised to see ten cars (I counted) parked in front.

Because of the virus and the governor’s edicts, they had tables lined up blocking entrance to the dining room, creating a small waiting area.  There were no chairs there, to discourage loitering I suppose. Three Uber or Grub Hub drivers were  waiting for their food, but there was no one at the cash register.  After a minute a masked and harried woman emerged from the kitchen and got rid of two of the drivers, then spoke briefly to the other, then turned to me “And you? What you want?”

“I wanted to order for carryout” I said, “do you have the Chinese menu?”

“No Chinese! American only!”

“Oh.  Can I see a menu then?” I swear she practically threw one at me. “You call!” She seemed genuinely irked that I had showed up in person to make an order.  I said something about the menu changing, and she gestured to the one in my hand.  I nodded and said “Yes, I know, and I’ll keep this one.”

Then I ordered and paid and she again raised her voice, “Twenty to thirty five minutes!” I said okay and drove back home.

It wasn’t always this way.  The original Ying herself moved back to China years ago.  But when she ran the place, there were many original dishes, I mean her own inventions, including several salads, which are unheard of in China. Then her husband took over for a time, and it became a more mainstream western menu. Then some young Chinese men bought it and they introduced the little hunks of meat on a skewer and cooked over a flame thing- chicken hearts, whole little fish, even sheep testicles. That didn’t last long.

The current owner is the somewhat grumpy lady above, the author of the two-part menu and it’s demise.

Through all these changes, one thing stayed constant. The staff never seemed happy to be there.  It’s as if a curse of gloom enveloped the building.  They may have tried, but they never pierced that darkness.  I suppose a poor location is to blame – they just never get enough business to really make it worthwhile.  Also contributing is their miscomprehension of ‘service’- or at least the way we Americans comprehend it.  They could be slow, they’d forget something that was ordered, bring the entrée before the appetizer, etc.  Plus, wearing a long face while waiting tables is not the way to win big tips and enthusiastic return customers.

I’m a return customer and the grumpy lady knows me.  She knows what I order too. She has met my wife and all my children, as I go there to eat pretty often. I have decided long ago to look past the service stumbling for the sake of the good food. Instead of complaining I try to bring a smile to their face; to be, as much as possible in this context, a friend.

I came back in a half hour and there were ten different cars parked in front. My food was ready, I could see it on a table beyond the barrier.  I could hear her and a man yelling at each other in Chinese back in the kitchen.  That brought back painful memories.  I spent ten years cooking in various restaurants, so I’ve been in those stressed-out, blaming each other shouting matches. Not fun. 

In a minute or two she appeared, saw me standing there (with a new crop of Uber drivers) and walked briskly to the front and handed me my bag.

I held out my left hand, with a $5.00 bill in it.  She either didn’t see it or just ignored it, walking past me to answer the phone that was next to the cash register. I laid the bill next to the phone and walked out. It was just a token, a gesture.  Like a card when you’re sick “Hey I saw you. I’ve been there.” I heard her say something that might have been “thanks”, or she could have been talking on the phone, I wasn’t sure.

On the drive home, I thought about Forrest Gump and his shrimp boat. How he struggled to catch any shrimp at all until his luck changed, and then suddenly he was hip-deep in shrimp.  He and Lieutenant Dan didn’t curse the shrimp.  No, they reacted to the new circumstances with eagerness and gratitude.

They became wealthy.  May my Chinese friend do the same.

There is an opportunity for the same thing to happen in boxing too. (See? It is too about boxing!) Not long ago we had 2 or three fight cards on prime-time TV every week. So much boxing that I honestly didn’t watch it all.  I would DVR them and then look at the names to decide which ones to watch.  We had a wealth of televised boxing and then: *Urk?*  No boxing. 

The spigot has been turned off.  Now we wait and hope for a Forrest Gump, to bring boxing back to TV.  

I’ll have the number seven and some crab Rangoon. 

2 thoughts on “Post-Apocalyptic Boxing

  1. Great post.. Reminded me of when we went once and there was yelling in the back, heated phone calls, and our waitress in tears as she served us….good times


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