My grandma taught me a valuable lesson in how to Duck It.
The Odd Duck
Back in 2013, there was a curious giant yellow rubber ducky making its way around in famous port cities such as Hong Kong, Sydney, Pittsburgh and Toronto. It was part of a series of art pieces in the Rubber Duck collection created by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman.
I was visiting my grandparents in Taipei, Taiwan that December, and the 82x59x59 ft. construction made of hand-sewn PVC panels was docking in Keelung, Taiwan.
Keelung Harbor was about to welcome a guest.
One chilly, misty day, my grandparents and I decided to trek from Taipei to Keelung to spend some time in the city to visit their old apartment, stop for coffee and tea, stroll and visit the new attraction that was all the rage.
We hopped the subway to Taipei Main Station and grabbed a bus to Keelung. After an hour’s journey, we were dropped off in front of a horde of locals and tourists, all snapping photos in awe of the colossus yellow rubber ducky bathing in its giant harbor of a bathtub.
We, too, snapped photos that day. Spending time together enjoying each other’s company for a few lovely hours, we headed back to Taipei.
We were hungry.
By the time we got back into Taipei, the three of us were tired from a full day. We decided to go to my grandpa’s favorite restaurant for some delicious Hunan food before heading home.
My grandpa is known at his favorite restaurant. Always recognized by the staff as a regular customer, he converses with all. He orders generously. He is bound to return again and again. He might not be the boss of the place, but he’s definitely a boss there.
That din din, we ordered the duck. Crispy, juicy, mouth-watering duck.
“How appropriate!” I remarked to my grandparents, who nodded, smiling in agreement. After all, we had literally just visited a duck and now we were eating a duck.
My grandma beamed at the irony of it, albeit a chosen one. After all, we had decided on both courses of action that day. I immediately knew she saw the serendipity of the situation. She appreciated our little under 24 hours full circle moment.
“Excuse me,” I said to our waitress when all our food had arrived, “Could you kindly take a picture for us?”
“Yeah, okay, no problem. But I’ll come right back. I’m busy right now,” she replied in a huff and walked away.
“Thank you!” I exclaimed, waiting for the moment of her return. I just had to capture this all-too-appropriate, special moment together.
After ten minutes, I glanced around and our waitress was standing by the wall. We had already started to eat the duck and I wanted to try for a picture again. It was a priceless moment that I hoped to preserve.
“I’m so sorry, but would you have a moment to help us to take a picture together?” I inquired with our waitress again.
“Sorry, I’m really busy. I’ll come back later,” retorted the waitress as she walked away dismissively, returning to her spot.
“But she’s not busy right now,” I whispered to my grandparents. I couldn’t understand why our waitress wasn’t willing to help snap a simple photo. (And I promise, I really wasn’t being annoying about it!) And she truly was just standing there. I was becoming more and more upset inside.
A moment that meant so much – the smile of realization on my grandma’s face at the chance encounter of artistic duck to gustatory duck – and I couldn’t capture it.
Our waitress never came back to take a photo.
I didn’t want to ask a third time because it was something that she clearly didn’t want to do. By that time, we had finished our food and my mind was clouded with confusion. Why hadn’t she wanted to help us? What did I do wrong? Was I somehow rude to her in some way, shape or form?
As we headed back home, I turned to my grandma in the back of the cab and confided, “I’m really sad we didn’t get a photo of us having duck together. I’m not sure why our waitress didn’t want to help us.”
My grandma replied discerningly, “Tina, it’s okay. She was probably having a bad day. We already have what is important. We have the memories from our visit to the duck. We ate the duck. We were together.”
With that simple and enlightening retort, my grandma put everything in perspective. I felt like such a lucky duck.
I wished for the waitress to have a better day. I glanced at the night lights whizzing by in streaks of blurs, sitting with my dear grandparents, having just spent an amazing day together.
I knew my grandma was right.
Water off a duck’s back.