Without failing, the American immigration officer would ask the purpose of our trip. My personal experience was that if I tell them I am going for a meeting, they would then ask more; usually followed by what I did for a living, where I was staying during the trip, when I was leaving, etc.. I usually have no idea of those details except what I do for a living because my other half, Moon, always does a fantastic job planning the trip.
My ignorance through those questions and answers usually results in a few not-so-impressed immigration officers… However, I actually thank them for asking all those questions, as they are doing their job to protect their country and folks like Moon and me from bad guys.
Eventually, I figured out we usually would see my great friends, Alvin, Lisa and their kids (the Fantastic 4), so now I just tell the immigration officers that I am there to visit my goddaughter and my real job is being a godfather. This way the immigration officers usually wave me pass without any further questions!
I love enjoying my annual quota of beef steak and hash browns in the USA. My favorite place is actually Sapp Bros, a small mid-west chain. To me, it is down to earth real local comfort food. (It is almost a paradox to believe McDonald’s represents American food…)
Apart from seeing my extended-family away from home, this time we were supposed to meet up with another 8 people from Singapore to visit a local Omaha steak house. Gorat’s is known as the steak house which Mr. Warren Buffett frequents. I remember the first time we ate there, we were the last table around and we met a lady from the Gorat family and she shared the long history of the Gorat family restaurant business with us.
This time we met up with Jen and John earlier at their lovely home and chatted over some finger food. We met Jen when we were shopping in Omaha a few years ago, stayed in touch and now we are friends in cyberspace and in real life.
Moon and I turned up at our reservation time (9pm) and found out that the restaurant was full house – 95%+ of the diners were Asian! It was clear that most of the workers there were having a very interesting time due to cultural and language issues. After a little struggle, we were seated and in no time, a waitress walked over and earnestly informed us, “Tonight there is no choice – it is a medium T-bone steak, root-beer float and at the end you have a T-shirt just like the others in the group.”
We explained that we weren’t with any group and that we had travelled in from Singapore. Then she stared at us for a few seconds and introduced herself as Wendy. With a big sweet smile, Wendy told us she takes pride in her work and promptly gave us the proper menu and said: ‘Take your time to go through the menu and I will tell you my story later’. We conversed casually in between her work.
It turned out that the restaurant was absolutely fully booked ALL day every day over that weekend. A Sunday 9pm block was booked for a group of 150 Chinese visitors. However, that group showed up at 7pm – all 300 of them instead!! Obviously, that caused a lot of logistic challenges for a restaurant that was designed for about 250 guests maximum capacity. No wonder Wendy and her coworkers were stressed!
Wendy told us she lives in West Virginia now but she used to work in that restaurant for many years. She moved out of Omaha earlier in 2017. She was the one who had been serving Mr. Warren Buffett every Monday at lunch until she left. When she was leaving, Mr. Buffett asked if she would go back that weekend to meet his dietary needs, and she obliged. Wendy drove almost 10 hours one way to Omaha just for that! (and for us + a few others too, lol)
When Wendy was informed by my young Uncle Stephen and pretty Aunty Jean that they had received a slightly overcooked T-bone steak, she insisted to go out of her way to replace it and got it right. Stephen and Jean ended up having a delicious over-sized T-bone porterhouse steak in a short while. That was first class customer service!
We all got great food that night. We had great conversations within our group and with Wendy. As we left, she said, “When you book your table next year, make sure you ask for me too.” In other words, Wendy promised to meet us one year in advance! She also agreed for yours truly to blog about his experience.
I love visiting mid-west America not only because I went to school there (& love White Castle sliders too). In the mid-West, I witness a few of my favorite things.
Wendy represents a good class of hard working people who take pride in putting in their grit to successfully make a honest living. To me, that is the American dream. I am grateful that she reminded me of what counts: The inner score card.
Thanks Wendy. See you in 2018.