Friday, December 27, 2019

The War of the Worlds

Orson Welles telling reporters "The War of the Worlds" was not meant to cause panic
Times story, "Chinese Restaurants Are Closing.That's a Good Thing, the Owners Say" (NYT, 12/24/19) has generated some degree of backlash. The substance of the piece was that the well-educated children of Chinese restaurant owners no longer wanted or needed to endure the harsh conditions of restaurant life. Talk about Cultural Revolution! However, after the piece was published, some readers found their attempts to place take-out orders were rebuffed. In one encounter a Phoenix, Arizona Chinese food aficionado reported that when he called in his usual Friday night order of egg foo young, fried rice and wanton soup, he was told that the owner of the restaurant was” in a meeting” and asked "can he get back to you?” The would-be customer waited dutifully, but his call was never returned. “Ordering in Chinese food has always been the one thing I really count on in life,” the customer reported. “I’m in sales and I often find that people don’t return my calls. I don’t need this added aggravation in an area where I’m supposed to hold the upper hand.” Anecdotal accounts of spotty and indifferent service in and out of Chinese restaurants following the publication of the article have generated a response similar to that accorded Orson Welles' famed radio broadcast,  "The War of the Worlds" in l938. Then the fears of a Martian invasion caused mass panic. Here the intimations of the loss of an amenity that some regard as a public utility (which should be subject to government regulation), has actually become a self-fulfilling prophecy, leading many who would normally go out for Chinese or place orders to take a more cautious attitude.

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