Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Drop Off

Good day, dear strangers.

Sometimes bad service doesn't stop me from frequenting a business. Like, when I'm too lazy to change cell phone providers. Or when, like, the food is really really good. I'm sure that I'm not alone in this.

I've been thinking about this topic for a few years--ever since my Uncle Will guided my sister and me to a place we now refer to as "Shigella's."

My mom and her siblings grew up in southern California, basically right on the border of Mexico in a farming town called Brawley. Brawley is in the middle of the hottest desert known to man. People who grew up there should automatically be awarded the Nobel Peace Price and an honorary doctorate from the school of their choice.

Because of its close proximity to the land of tortillas, a venture to Brawley is inevitably accompanied by a trip to Mexico.

On a side note, my sister Krisanda convinced me when I was a child that I was half Mexican. I believed this, and told others, until I was 15 years old.

Yes. 15.

This lie defied all logic as I was (and am) a pale, Irish-looking boy with absolutely no indicators whatsoever that I could have any Mexican blood in me at all.

This was the same sister who also told me about The First Eye. And that we had an older sister named Christina who was killed in a car accident and haunted the basement. Because of this sister, I now doubt the vast majority of everything I learned as a child.

Thanks, Krisanda.

A few years ago, my oldest sister Krishelle, my uncle Will, and I went to a town we all love called San Felipe, just a couple of hours south of the border. When we got there, Will pulled up to a restaurant, climbed out of the car, and ordered us three plates of something sticky and wet.

It tasted like food that had already been digested by someone else. And then left out in the refrigerator uncovered.

Krishelle and I both commented on how terrible it was. And that's when Will said something that I'll spend the rest of my life trying to understand.

Hmmm . . . Well, this is the place that gave me Shigella a couple of years ago.

We stared at him. In shock.


We already knew what it was because we remembered the epic tale of projectile vomiting into a mirror, pants-crapping continuously for 72 hours, and a near-death rush to the emergency room.

How do you get Shigella? By consuming food that has human feces in it.

Krishelle spoke first.

WHY would you go back to a place that has literally served you human crap to eat?!!

Will shrugged his shoulders and did that thing where you don't actually say the words "I don't know" but just make the voice inflection really quickly to indicate that that's what you would say if you cared enough to enunciate. Then he took another large bite of the Mexican Swamp that covered his plate.

I have since tried to imagine what kind of review he would give someone else who asked whether he would recommend Shigella's.

Oh that place? It's ok. The food is terrible and they once served me poop when I ordered the tacos . . . But I'd go back.

The thing that brought the Shigella's memory up for me recently is our much less disgusting battle with a small restaurant in Palau: Drop Off.

Here's the problem, guys: the food is super good. And yet, one has to go to battle to get any of it. Typically when my friends and I go to Drop Off together, there is about a 45 to 60 minute difference between the first person and the last person getting what they ordered, assuming they get what they ordered in the first place.

Last week three of us ordered what was essentially just a pile of raw fish. After over an hour went by without seeing anyone who was "working" that night, we finally went searching for our food. At the kitchen door we found someone and asked how much longer it would be.

They stared at us like they had never seen us before and asked us what we had ordered.

Guys, it's raw fish. When someone orders raw fish, you just walk to the kitchen, scoop some of it onto a plate, and walk it back out to the table.

But there is some serious confusion regarding the raw fish at Drop Off. Every single time I order it, I have the following conversation with the same man, who stares at me like I'm the world's biggest idiot throughout the conversation:

Can I have the Red Snapper, please?

Red Snapper?

Yes, Red Snapper.

Red Snapper is Sebus fish.


So what do you want? Tuna?

I'll have the Red Snapper.

That's Sebus.

Ok. I'll have the Sebus then.

Sebus is Red Snapper.

Fine. That's what I want. The Sebus/Red Snapper.

[5 seconds of staring blankly]

So what do you want?

Seriously?! Fine! I'll have the damn tuna!

I'm truly not kidding that this conversation occurs every. single. time. Initially I thought that the problem may have just been a result of my lack of familiarity with types of fish. Like, maybe Red Snapper was actually a type of sail-boat or something. And Sebus is the word for sail-boat. But you guys, I studied this.  I even have a poster in my office that shows pictures of the different kinds of "fishes" to eat in Palau.

I'm confused about a lot of things. Like, why people purchase cats as pets, for example. But I'm not confused about this. Red Snapper is a fish. And it is on the menu at Drop Off.

The only reason I can think of that this man would make me have this conversation with him so many times is because of hate. I don't know who or what he hates or why he hates it. But hate is the only thing that could possibly cause somebody to be this frustrating.

It's too bad I have to go back so many times.

~It Just Gets Stranger


  1. HA! "The land of Tortillas"? Also...I am somewhat concerned about your uncle's mental health if he continues to dine somewhere that fed him shit...

  2. I have the same experience when I go to McDonalds here in France:
    Je voudrais le deluxe potatoes (the menu is in English)
    Les Frites?
    Non, les pommes de terre deluxe
    oh le deluxe potatoes!!! (After much pointing, saying deluxe in english french and english again...)
    This even happened once and the girl asked me in English... I said it in English first...

    As for the Irish Comment:

    1. deluxe potatoes, are like potatoe wedges... for those who don't know... since America isn't cool enough to have them...

    2. That picture is terrifying. And close to home . . .

  3. Ha ha ha ha that was so disgusting! I still get the dry heaves when I think about it!

    1. I think we had promised to never eat again after that.

  4. The first thing that came to mind when you were describing Drop Off was, "no soup for you!" What's funny about that is I've only seen that one episode of Seinfeld which leads me to think I should watch more Seinfeld...that way I'll have more things to relate to real life situations. I LOVE your posts!

  5. This was so strange... hey, Krishelle is a cutie..! I would risk dysentery for a dinner date with her..! :0)

    1. Big Mark, I think those are the words she's been waiting to hear all her life. Krishelle? You free?

  6. This post is awesome! And really strikes home for me as my younger brother is white as a ghost and was adopted by our Mexican step-dad when he was 9. After leaving the courthouse from signing the adoption papers my little brother got the biggest smile on his face and pronounced he was going to have so much more fun at Christmas this year. I know this may sound strange but all will be revealed. We spend Christmas every year with my step father's family about 250 Mexicans and 5 white folks! When we asked my brother why Christmas would be better his serious response was "because I am Mexican now!" It took us years to explain the difference!

    1. Awesome story. I've got a sort of similar one about one of my sisters believing she was Mexican, too, that I'll share at some point.

  7. I don't think I could ever, in one million years, get sick of reading your stories. Please never stop writing them! And please write a book! I'll buy 1,000 copies!

  8. All these years I have yearned to travel the world with you, Krishelle, and Uncle Will. Now I reconsider...

  9. I am officially 1/8 Mexican, which is something I was super proud of as a kid because it made me different from every other white kid whose ancestors were from "England" or "Scotland" or "Germany". I told everybody every chance I got.

    Last month I was waiting for my takeout in a little taco joint and struck up a conversation with the Latino lady waiting next to me. One of the workers asked if we were related. That was the first and only time a stranger has ever correctly assumed I was the least bit Mexican.

    (Probably because I'm also 1/4 German and that kind of overpowers the whole Mexican thing ;) although I do get a lot of people asking if I'm Italian. I'm not.)

  10. Brawley isn't that bad . . . But then I had no choice in the matter of growing up there. But I would love my Nobel Peace Prize and doctorate from Cal Poly, thanks! :)

  11. Just discovered your blog today! I like it. What I do not like is the thought of eating human shit (or shit in general actually). Ewwww...I hope your Uncle got you some awesome Christmas presents every year or something to make up for this. :)

    1. Welcome! And his hysterical Shigella story, which he has shared with me on multiple occasions, has been payment enough for what he did.

  12. Next time my kids complain about what I've made for dinner I think I'll give them raw fish and if that brings more complaints I might serve up s&*t on a plate. Pass the laxatives.

  13. I'll never understand why people go nuts over raw fish. I'll never understand it. (Note: I'm what some might call a "gaggy" person, and textures really get to me. Bananas elicit in me a very real dry heave.) People (note: my youngest brother) gets all uppity when talking about sushi (including but not limited to the raw fish variety) and says that my palate is unrefined. This coming from a guy who loves bottled cheese and sauerkraut (quite possibly even together).

    So I have to ask: have you ever had their Red Snapper, then?

  14. I got Hepatitis A from a little "family restaurant" in Arizona that hired illegals... illegals who didn't wash their hands... Shigella sounds rough, but HepA is brutal. Imagine some of those same symptoms for a MONTH. Totally ruined 1/6th of my 11th year. My brother and I camped out in the bathroom with sleeping bags my mother later burned. It haunts me even to this day! The Red Cross won't accept my blood and insist I see a doctor for my auto immune disease.

    In other less disgusting conversation, your blog is awesome!!

  15. It is also worth noting that if you order Sebus, he will initiate the exact same conversation, but in reverse.

    1. Yes. Good point, Brian. It doesn't matter which word you start with, this man will make sure you want to jump off the dock by the end of the conversation.

  16. I got typhoid in Mexico a few years ago. After my 5th round of painful antibiotic injections in the rear, the dr tells me, "The good news is, now you can eat anywhere and not worry."
    Yes. Yes, I could. However, I prefer my food without fecal matter in it. That's just a personal choice.

    1. Oops. Hit publish too soon.
      Very. Very. Funny blog. Very.

  17. Ummm Eli, we did have a sister named Christina. Also, I think you're ready for this......you were born as a triplet. The other two babies were Mexican and you were only partially Mexican, so the other two ( your brothers) were sent to live in Mexico so they could learn about their culture. Phew, I didn't know how much longer I could hold that in.

    You are welcome!!!

    Krisanda ;)

  18. You should try asking for the Tuna first, maybe then you would get the fish you want.

  19. The guy suggesting you try asking for tuna might have some merit... Once, when I was somewhere around 2 or 3, I asked my mom for fruit (because every time I asked for candy I was offered fruit). After Momma offered me every type of fruit she had available to which I repeated I wanted the other kid of fruit, se got quite exasperated and said, quite loudly, "what other kind of fruit do you want?!?!" I said "I want the a-n-a-n-y kind." She figured I meant candy and figured if I could get that close to spelling it at that young age, I could have a little.
    So..maybe if you started with asking for tuna and came up with a ridiculously clever way to spell Red Snapper, he'll give you what you want! :)

  20. My older sister had my younger sister completely convinced she was Mexican even tho she has blond hair and blue eyes. She believed her for about a year...

  21. Ha, reminds me of an Indian restaurant we used to love- I started noticing the waiter would clean off the plates with his hands as he was walking towards our table. My husband shrugged and decided the food was so good that he would just disinfect his plate with diet coke first before the food came. I would sneak back to the bathroom and wash my plate with soap. We kept eating there for a year because the food was so good and the price was good, but then I couldn't take it anymore. If he did that on the way to the table, what was happening in the kitchen??

    -re the Irish thing, I'm half Mexican and look Irish, blue eyes, red hair and all. My sister looks Mexican, but one of her kids has blond hair and blue eyes.

  22. Being from Palau, after reading this story, it is now my mission to find out how common it is to eat sebus raw within Palau. Obviously the most common sashimi in Palau is, you guessed it, TUNA!

    Sulang for the laugh this morning!