@Everyone: Hi guys. The townspeople are toting their torches and the peasants are polishing their pitchforks, so let's get ready for another instalment of Mike vs. The Internet. For those of you playing the home game, we're going down vertically from the top for the most part, so feel free to scroll up and down if you get lost.
@Maomi: Let's go ahead and inject a little honesty into this conversation, shall we? A question about the receipt? Your friend, after eating a perfectly good meal, tried to get out of paying the bill. He demanded fapiao from my wife, and he was told that it's the end of the month and we were out, but if really needed the fapiao for any reason he could come back at the beginning of next month and collect. She was very kind, and even wrote a note on his receipt to that affect. Anyone who cares about fapiao is usually understanding of what a hassle they are to obtain and would be willing to come back in a day or two. My wife even offered to mail him the fapiao. However, your little friend never wanted fapiao in the first place, he was simply using it as a bargaining chip with which to blackmail and extort my wife into giving him a discount for a meal which he had already consumed. Haggling over the price of the meal after you have already eaten it is a low, pathetic, cheap, insulting and conniving thing to do, and I expressed that to your friend. (If any of our readers would like a full transcript of Mike Punishing the Pusillanimous Pricks, please send a self-addressed stamped envelope to our company headquarters. An encore performance of this, and other tirades, will also be performed in Mike's one-man show: Mike vs. The Mob, Pitchforks and Profanity.) Our prices are clearly marked on the menu, and if he was going to have a problem paying then he is more than welcome to go eat noodles. I have to pay exorbitant rents for my little 40 square meters, and I would rather fill my limited space with people who appreciate my pizza, will pay their bill without a fight, and might even leave a tip, heaven forbid. Please keep that in mind.
@Jeggfrey: I'm really glad you like the Mad Buffalo. The customer who worked on that pie with me was also from Buffalo, and it's been super popular. Keeping up with the demand has been tough. I'll get into the yelling part a little later, it's not really news anymore, everyone knows that Mike has a temper and a loud voice and a proclivity towards profanity. I understand that the space is small, but what I would ask people to keep in mind is that although the internet is currently making a really big deal out of it, it doesn't really happen that often and when it does it's either as a last resort or in an urgent situation.
Just for fun, let's play a little game called math. When you say, "both times I've been there..." you're making it sound like I'm yelling and screaming 100% of the time. However, from my point of view, we are open to the public 42 hours a week. Let's say, for the sake of this exercise, that an outburst lasts a whole minute. (They never do, but it will make the math easier.) Let's also say that I average one outburst per week. (Again, some weeks will get a whole two outbursts, whereas others don't strain my vocal chords a single time.) With those numbers, there would really only be an outburst one out of every 2,520 minutes; which comes to .0004% of the time.
Most of the time, things are actually pretty chill here. (And bragging that you've actually witnessed two whole outbursts is really just going to make other customers jealous.) Thank you for your reasonable and rational tone, and for your kind words.
Just to be safe, I'm thinking of putting a sign on my door: Warning! You are about to enter a real life situation, where real live people will express real emotions.
@Amy...pandalover: I guess what you witnessed the other night traumatized you so much that you just had to run home and create multiple new user accounts on multiple websites just to defame my character. Do you see yourself as some kind of knight in shining armor defending helpless victims from Mike the Dragon? But let's try to inject some honesty into this dialogue as well.
First of all, thank you for your kind words about my pizza. I work very passionately to make sure that we produce a consistent, quality product and I'm very glad that you appreciated it.
Now on to the less pleasant part. I guess we should start by, unlike you, being very honest and specific about exactly what words you heard that night before you unceremoniously galloped off on your moral high-horse.
The exact words you heard were, "Tangkai, make me another (Expletive Deleted) white sauce, now!" (For those of you following along at home, the deleted expletive starts with the letter, "F.")
The reason it's important to know what those exact words were, is because you are accusing me of verbal abuse.
Let's play a game, shall we? I know that this is the internet, and you can say whatever you want under as many anonymous user accounts as you see fit to create on as many websites as your little heart desires. But let's pretend, for a moment, that you were making this accusation in a court of law in which I was innocent until proven guilty. I know, it's a lot less fun than the random hyperbole splattered at will online...in my game there would actually be a burden of proof and it would rest on your ability to produce facts, not hearsay and exaggerated anecdotes.
Since the crime you are accusing me of is verbal abuse, I guess we should take a moment to figure out what that is. I found 3 definitions that should help clarify things.
1. Verbal abuse is the use of words to cause harm to the person being spoken to.
2. Verbal abuse (also known as reviling) is described as a negative defining statement told to the victim or about the victim, or by withholding any response, thereby defining the target as non-existent.
3. In the law these are usually referred to as "Fighting Words." They can include (but are not limited to) such things as: Racial insults - Religious insults - Ethnic insults - Slurs against family members (particularly against Mothers) - Sexual orientation insults - etc - etc) Just about any phrases that you might think of that could be used to intentionally goad the insulted party into a fight. However - they would have to be considered strong enough or heinous enough to actually draw that kind of honest reaction. Responding to day-to-day minor insults and "colorful language" would probably not be a defense.
So my question to you, since the burden of proof should be on the accuser, is in what way did those exact words cause harm to Tangkai? In what way was requesting him to make another (Expletive Deleted) white sauce a negative defining statement about him? And it what way could my, albeit urgent, request to make another (Expletive Deleted) white sauce be construed as a threat against his person or words intentionally used to goad him into a fight?
Yes, the volume of my voice was very loud. It has to be to carry above the noise of a full restaurant, our little music box that blasts my eclectic collection of tunes, and our ridiculously loud exhaust fan that keeps the smoke out of our lungs and our upstairs neighbours on our backs.
Yes, there was a note of anger and frustration in my voice because Tangkai knows how to make amazing white sauce that is smooth, creamy, fragrant and that sauce that he makes from scratch when the customer orders it is one of the reasons why our Snow White pizza is so incredibly popular.
Yes, you detected notes of exasperation in my voice, because Tangkai knows that if he burns the sauce he should just tell me and make a new one, but never just hope I don't notice and take the risk that the customer will receive an inferior product. He knows I would rather throw away ten bad pies than risk having an unsatisfied customer. Tangkai knows better. And, since I am a real human being in a real life situation, I certainly betrayed emotions of anger, frustration and exasperation.
But I didn't insult him. I didn't call him names. I didn't make any negative defining statements about his character. I didn't try to cause him harm with my words.
I did use my loud volume, and yes, my profanity, to convey a strong sense of urgency. As you know, my customers wait up to two hours for my pizza and when we promise to have it delivered within a certain time we do everything possible to make sure that those pies are not late, and in order for that to have happened on that particular night, he needed to drop anything else he was doing and focus on making a perfect white sauce this time around.
So here's where it gets tricky, Amy. Or should I call you pandalover? Whether or not you were personally comfortable with my outburst, it does not, by any legal definition that I have been able to find, constitute the crime that you have accused me of. However, if your claim is false, then your claim does qualify as defamation. I'll go ahead and paste a definition here so you don't have to find it for yourself:
Defamation—also called calumny, vilification, or traducement—is the communication of a false statement that harms the reputation of an individual, business, product, group, government, religion, or nation. Most jurisdictions allow legal action to deter various kinds of defamation and retaliate against groundless criticism.
Under common law, to constitute defamation, a claim must generally be false and have been made to someone other than the person defamed. Some common law jurisdictions also distinguish between spoken defamation, called slander, and defamation in other media such as printed words or images, called libel.
Again, the fact that you are personally uncomfortable with my use of profanity does not make it an act of verbal abuse. Just like to accuse someone of murder, you have to produce a body, if you are going to accuse me of verbally abusing my staff then you would have to prove that the words, "Tangkai, make me another (Expletive Deleted) white sauce, now!" caused my employee some kind of irreparable psychological damage, and it's just not true. If those words were innately harmful on their own, then every time my hockey coach screamed from the bench, "Webster, watch the (Expletive Deleted) body!" would have scarred my fragile psyche so much that I would never have become the stable and well-adjusted man that I am today.
I will add, that if you are uncomfortable with profanity, there are several things you can do to make your life easier to bear.
1. Don't watch anything produced by HBO. (You're really doing yourself a disservice here, because Game of Thrones is awesome...but I'm guessing you would find that George R.R. Martin's eloquent command of vulgar speech would leave you in tears.)
2. Don't watch anything written and directed by Quentin Tarantino. That goes without saying, but again, you're really missing out on some very brilliant dialogue.
3. I really should have to say this, but the whole genre of Hip-Hop and Rap is out for you. I personally couldn't survive without Tupac and Eminem.
4. No professional sports either, coaches and players alike tend to season their speech with some very salty expressions.
5. Don't do that internship on a pirate ship that you were considering. They don't all look like Johnny Depp, and they don't say, "Swears like a sailor." for no reason.
6. Probably shouldn't watch Hell's Kitchen. I know that if you watch it on network TV they'll bleep the good parts, but if you're going to maintain you're coveted and impenetrable position of moral superiority, then you really shouldn't support that kind of behaviour even as entertainment.
7. You're going to have to boycott all Apple products. The late, great Mr. Jobs was known to drop a few F-bombs on occasion.
8. Stay out of my restaurant. I feel like this is the point on which we are most likely to agree. Our space is really to small to accommodate sanctimonious, self-righteous sycophants on their soap boxes and moral high-horses. It's just too much baggage for that tiny space, I'm sure you understand. FYI, even when I'm happy with Tangkai's white sauce, someone like you is still going to be offended, because I will also scream at the top of my lungs, "Tangkai, that white sauce was (Expletive Deleted) delicious!" I fully admit that while at times I can be pensive and silent, there are also times when I am passionately boisterous. Things happen fast in a restaurant. I am standing in front of three ovens that belch flames to maintain an internal temperature of 500 degrees celsius and emit enough radiant heat to sear human flesh in mere seconds. One wrong move can mean a burnt pizza, another wrong moves means a 3rd degree burn. Still, I love what I do and where I am in life. It has been a huge challenge to build and keep our little 40 square meter pizza restaurant, but I will never apologise for caring about the quality of my product. When you read through all of the reviews on all of these sites on which you are defaming me you can see that my customers appreciate the fact that I am personally here, day in and day out, making the pizzas myself and doing my utmost to provide the good people of Chengdu with a pizza that rivals most pizzas that you could get back home.
So in conclusion, profanity does not equal verbal abuse, but making false statements does equal defamation. I would appreciate if you would take down your defamatory reviews of your own accord, I'm going to request Tripadvisor to take a look at it as well. Honestly, if you would just change the language of it I would be content to let the matter rest. Everyone knows that Mike has a booming baritone voice which he sometimes employs at maximum volume while sounding a string of epithets almost worthy of the great Gordon Ramsay, (not that I would ever put myself in the same category.) Just don't accuse me of a crime I didn't commit. Again, there's a huge difference between profanity and verbal abuse. Just because you are offended by a word, doesn't mean everyone else is. I know it's pithy to use the U.S. Supreme Court as an example, but they have consistently upheld the right to use profanity as covered by free speech, going back to Cohen vs. California.
Are you still with me Amy? Or did I lose you back there when I started talking about actual facts? As long as I still have your attention, I'd like to go ahead and review you. It's only fair, since the internet allows you to jump on your virtual soapbox and create multiple new accounts on multiple website to defame my character that I be allowed to make a few observations about your character as well. Wouldn't you agree?
I'm going to go ahead and give you 2 starts out of 5 as well. I'm giving you the 2 good stars because you seem to be obligated by a sense of morality. You are at least honest enough to give me credit for making a good pizza, and your heart does seem to be in the right place. But I have to take off a star for your dangerous sense of self-righteousness and your inability to see the world outside of your bubble. It's people like you who are responsible for books being banned, books being burned, prohibition, witch hunts and the Spanish Inquisition. (Yes, I just went there.) Just because you are offended by something doesn't mean everyone else is. You have the right to not watch Pulp Fiction because it has a few bad words in it, but you don't have the right to stop others from watching it. You also don't have the right to attack people who do watch it, just like you don't have the right to attack my customers for not sharing your views about whether or not profanity is socially acceptable. Please realise that there is a world outside your bubble and not everyone thinks the same way you do.
I also have to take away a star for not considering the actual consequences of your actions. Let's take your thoughts to their logical conclusion shall we? You want the good people of Internet-land to join your holy crusade and boycott Mike's Pizza Kitchen because Mike uses profanity, correct? And then Mike will go out of business, and the world will be a better place because his employees will no longer be exposed to profanities. (Because they obviously don't exist in the world outside Mike's Pizza...) But here's the thing, if you succeed in shutting me down it's going to be my employees that are hurt more than anyone else. Did you think, before embarking on this crusade, to ask Tangkai how he felt when I uttered those life-changing words, "Tangkai, make me another (Expletive Deleted) white sauce, now!"? Because I did. When you went online and made this federal case, my wife and I had a conversation with him about that incident and he didn't feel insulted in any way, but he is making a conscious effort to be more consistent with his white sauce. He knows what I expect, and he is aware that there needs to be a sense of urgency and that he needs to deliver a quality product every single time. He's an adult, he can take care of himself, and he is learning skills here that will enable him to be an entrepreneur himself in the future. He dreams of owning his own restaurant some day. We have already had one employee start his own restaurant and we would be ecstatic if that became a reality for Tangkai as well. When we hired him he was working for barely minimum wage in a convenience store. He always puts in extra time with us, and his financial situation is now such that he can finally afford to move into a better apartment and bring his girlfriend here from his home province. In the short time that he has worked for us his life has changed drastically for the better, and I am truly grateful that our little pizza place has been instrumental in this. And you want to take that away from him because you heard one sentence?
And finally, I have to take a star away for your grammar. I hope you're not an English teacher, because any student of language should be aware that there is a huge difference in meaning and syntax between yelling profanities at someone and simply punctuating a sentence with profanity. Again, the sentence in question is, "Tangkai, make me another (Expletive Deleted) white sauce, now!" If you really need me to diagram the sentence for you, I would be more than happy to. Actually, the real reason I'm nitpicking your grammar is because I'm hoping that you are a good person who is just misguided. If it's not your understanding of the English language that is lacking, then you are just plain lying. Again, there is a difference between yelling profanities at someone, and simply lacing a sentence with profanity.
@Elite Fitness: You are lying, plain and simple. Please stop. Yes, I yell. Yes, I utilise profanity. Yes, I experience real human emotions that I don't try to hide from the world. But why do you have to embellish the truth with that last falsehood? My wife has never cried in the pizza place. She is also a human being who experiences human emotions that are sometimes visible to the viewing public, but she didn't cry and the fact that you feel the need to embellish your gossip with untruth is just pathetic, small and annoying.
@Elite Fitness and rdietr: Do the two of you realise how incredibly racist you are? You are embarrassed to be a foreigner because of me? The fact that we happen to share an ethnicity or point of origin is in no way a reason to compare us to each other. My actions don't reflect on you any more than the atrocities committed by white people throughout history reflect on any other individual who, through no fault of their own, happens to be born with a lack of skin pigmentation. I'm an individual human being who works hard to make a good-tasting pizza. I'm not a poster boy for any nation or ethnicity. If you would like to buy a good-tasting pizza, feel free to come by the shop. If, however, your intent is to showcase me as an example of fantastic foreignness then please take your racist expectations elsewhere.
@Everyone: My relationship with my wife is none of your business. It just isn't. I know that you think that since you were sitting in my restaurant and had front row seats to an intra-marital dispute that you are justified in gossiping about it on the internet, but that's just not true. That's the same argument that the tabloid hustlers use to justify their invasion of celebrities' private lives and it is no more true for them than it is for you.
I will say, in the interest of having you put down your pitchforks and torches even though it's none of your business, that we are two of the happiest and most in-love people on the planet. I am the luckiest man on earth to be able to spend as much time with Aiqing as I do every day, and even though we are together 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, I find myself wishing every day had been a bit longer so we could spend even more time together. Because we are normal human beings who experience normal human emotions, and because we are visible to the viewing public for 42 hours per week, you will see us disagree with each other on occasion. We don't bottle things up, we don't play passive-aggressive mind games. We express ourselves and move on. I sincerely hope that all of you are as blessed in love as we are.
I will also add this story. While in Rome last year we ate in a small Mom and Pop restaurant, much like ours. We always try to sit as close to the kitchen as possible so we can catch glimpses of the action. At one moment during our meal, the Father/Chef and the Mother/Cashier and the Waitress/Daughter were all screaming at each other right between our table and the kitchen. I almost got hit with an errant towel. I didn't go home and complain to the internet that their family argument ruined my meal. I thought it was awesome. Real human beings, real passion, real emotion. Not some stupid corporate, white-washed facade that has been market-tested to offend the fewest number of people.
Alright, I'm done now. Almost. I'm going to tell you all the story of one of the times where I really yelled at a customer, while we're on the subject.
Maybe, in the spirit of fairness, you should ask if there was a good reason for losing my temper and threatening a customer. Did you want to ask me that? Or are you content to just repeat rumours and hearsay without any attempt to find out the truth?
Well, I'm glad you asked.
This guy, let's call him Matt, lived outside of our delivery range. He still wanted a delivery. He thought it would be a good idea to have his girlfriend call, and pretend she was the girlfriend of a very good customer of ours and ask us to deliver outside of our range. Of course, we knew that she wasn't who she was pretending to be, because our very good customers would never ask us to deliver outside of our range, especially during our busy rush. Anyway, my wife was very kind and polite on the phone, and explained that we can't deliver outside of our range, but they could order takeout and come pick it up themselves.
She called again. This time she decided to use a different lie. She told Aiqing that we had delivered there before. Of course, that's also impossible, since we are the only people who would ever authorise a delivery and neither of us has ever sent an order to the address in question. Again, Aiqing was calm, polite and patient; even though these phone calls were inhibiting her ability to manage the other deliveries and take other orders.
They called again. This time they guy who we are calling Matt called himself. He tried to tell my wife that he had just moved a little bit outside of our range, but was there anything we could do? Again, Aiqing calmly and patiently explained our position. Our restaurant was 100% full, all of our delivery bikes were spoken for, and this selfish prick was infringing on our ability to provide service to our actual customers. And when Aiqing insisted that there was nothing we could do, he responded, "Well, fuck you then."
I could see from Aiqing's face that she was flustered. I asked why and she told me what had just happened. What would you do? This idiot was completely in the wrong. He and his girlfriend had lied to us repeatedly, they had wasted our time with multiple phone calls that made it impossible for other customers to place their order, and when their dishonest efforts were unsuccessful this asshole took his anger out on my wife, who had been nothing but kind and patient even though these people were lying to her and taking time away from our customers.
Yes, I called him back. Yes, I screamed at him. I was angry and he deserved all of that anger. I summoned the full volume of my wrath and vomited a verbal volley of viciousness that made the windows shake.
You see, I believe in Justice. What he did was wrong and it is Just and Moral and Right that there should be some kind of retribution and consequence for his actions. I am aware that it made the other customers in the restaurant uncomfortable, but it was still the right thing to do. People like that need to be made aware that they can't just get away with that kind of behaviour. I'm not saying that every time I raise my voice is necessary or justified, but I am saying that there is often a story and reason behind it and in the spirit of fairness maybe you could ask to hear the story before stabbing me with your virtual pitchforks burning me at your virtual stake.
(If any of our readers would like a full transcript of Mike Punishing the Pusillanimous Pricks, please send a self-addressed stamped envelope to our company headquarters. An encore performance of this, and other tirades, will also be performed in Mike's one-man show: Mike vs. The Mob, Pitchforks and Profanity.)
I've wasted most of my day off with this BS, so I'm going to stop now. I might add to it later. I do want to say thank you to everyone for the many positive reviews and expressions of support and solidarity. I wouldn't be able do keep working 12 hours a day, 6 days a week and some extra on my day off if I didn't know that our efforts were appreciated.
I decided to keep the responses from the last time I felt the need to defend myself against an internet mob below...for posterity.
@Raul, I'm not some big corporation that operates 24/7 and makes decisions based on market share and stock options instead of taste. I'm an individual guy who used to make great pizza in Vegas and now I make great pizza here in Chengdu. Because I am an actual human being, I need a day off once a week. Deal with it.
@Clay...when have you ever ordered a Donny sandwich from me?
@Jonna aka Consultant2012 aka DILIGAF, ...you are also a fake customer (obviously the same person) posting fake negative reviews. But while you're at it, why don't you post some fake positive reviews for your BFF at Dave's Oasis?