From ‘Ovation-goodbye for Joanne Peh’, 1 June 2011, article in insing.com translated from LHWB
Joanne Peh posted on Twitter her “experience” two days ago at a restaurant in Tanglin Mall. Peh had gone to the restaurant “Nando’s” with her Caucasian boyfriend Bobby Tonelli after filming a programme, “Ladies Nite” nearby.
However, before the couple could enjoy alone time with a quiet evening repast, they encountered poor service from the restaurant. Peh had asked for a glass of hot water from a waiter, but was told that the restaurant does not serve hot water.
Accordingly to Peh, the manager of the restaurant informed her that a glass of hot water costs $3.90. This is despite a bottle of mineral water costing only $1.80 on the menu. In comparison, a cup of tea is $3.90 on the menu.
Angered by this, the couple decided not to dine at the restaurant and stood to leave. What happened next was completely unexpected.
All the staff members of the restaurant began clapping to the couple’s departure! The furious Peh immediately tweeted about the incident and even specified the name of the manager on duty as “Shah”.
As ridiculous as $3.90 sounds for hot water (was it heated up over a charcoal grill?), compared to 50 cents for the same beverage at Ya Kun, what I don’t get is how someone is willing to forsake a perfectly good chicken meal just because Nando’s charges expensive hot water on the side, which you can jolly well refuse to order and get on with dinner, the main attraction of Nando’s by the way, not their hot water. Unless of course, you have a baby on tow, or having hot water is an obsessive compulsive trait of paranoid celebrities who fear that anything less than tongue-scalding comes direct from the tap and is an attempt by crazy stalker fans behind the kitchen to poison them.
Such a sarcastic, synchronised reaction from the staff could only be triggered by a staff member with a personal vendetta against Joanne and her date, or Miss Peh was making an impetuous request worthy of humiliation. An explanation by Nando’s is in order perhaps, though any patron unaware of the ruckus over hot water would take the applause as just a playful announcement of Joanne and her beau’s presence and departure. Maybe they were experimenting with a new way of saying ‘Thank you, come again’, or it was special guest ‘Joanne has left the building’ treatment that Nando’s provides all their celebrity customers, since applause is to an actor’s ears like a mother’s voice to a helpless child . At least they didn’t taunt her with lines like ‘Your character should have died in Little Nyonya!’ or ‘SPG!’.
Still, such fury over Nando’s price of hot water and attitude before being served anything comes across as a little petty even by Joanne’s standards. It’s not like someone vomited in her Peri Peri sauce, nor did Nando’s intend to deceive her by withholding the price of hot water and subsequent refills till she receives the bill. Perhaps if she had remained calm and sated her hunger without the trivial accompaniment of hot water, this unnecessary fracas could have been avoided altogether. Someone could have just offered a free coleslaw (maybe mashed potato since coleslaw is, well, cold) just to appease her, instead of orchestrating the bizarre gesture of mock applause behind the scenes. Just remember to ask dear Bobby to bring a thermos along next time, then. Meanwhile, will an economist please stand up and clarify once and for all, how much should a cup of hot water cost, if not free of charge?
Postscript: Turns out that the Nandos’ staff were really taunting Joanne, and have duly ap0logised by sending free bottles of Peri Peri sauce. Surprised that no free water was given with it, though. Nando’s were reluctant to explain why they clapped though. Anybody asked to define sarcasm or irony would be at a loss for words too.