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The Turtle at the Chinese Restaurant

20 Comments

turtle at chinese buffet

Since my father died in January, I drive the hour to his house (which is technically my house now) once or twice a month to sort through the possessions he and Mom collected over the 47 years they lived there. It’s quite a process (physically and emotionally) which will likely take me a couple of years.

A mile from their house (I can’t seem to call it my house since I haven’t lived there in 40 years) is a Chinese restaurant with a buffet.  After mom died, we started going there for Christmas dinner.  Dad didn’t want to have a “family dinner” at the house without her. Since Dad died, my husband and I have gone to the buffet occasionally since it’s so convenient. In addition to it being strange without Dad, there was something else that bothered me about the place. They have one of those 6 foot long aquariums with large fish swimming back and forth in what seems like very little space for the number and size of the fish. To make matters worse, they have a turtle swimming around there too. The turtle, about the size of my open hand, would pull itself up on a corner and stick it’s head out, maybe  waiting for a treat. I always worried that the turtle didn’t have anywhere to rest other than perching on the corner of the tank. Didn’t he get tired from having to swim all the time? I worried that he (I’m using he because, from my human perspective, it looks like a he) might climb out and get hurt. So, I decided I didn’t want to go to this buffet anymore, because it upset me to see the turtle living in these conditions. That was until recently, when we were tired from all the sorting, and the buffet was just too convenient, so we went.

On this last visit, I noticed they  had put a piece of wood in the aquarium for the turtle to perch on.

turtle perch

I thanked the manager for this addition on the way out. He said he wanted to tell me a story about the turtle. He said that five years ago, a customer had found the turtle on the floor, just inside the outer door of the foyer.  He held up his fingers to show that the turtle had been about the size of a silver dollar when they found him. They put the tiny turtle in the aquarium where he has lived, and apparently thrived, ever since. The manager smiled as he told the story, like he was fond of the turtle.

If it had been me who found the baby turtle, I probably would taken the him to a pond or creek to swim free and hang out with other turtles. But then, he could have been eaten by an alligator.  And who knows if he was even born wild. He kind of looks like one of those store bought baby turtles, which is another problem altogether.

After hearing the story, I considered this turtle, and the restaurant, from a different perspective. In a way, the restaurant management had rescued the turtle from being stepped on. They gave him a home and took care of him. And who knows? Maybe he’s happy there, especially now that he has a perch to rest on.

Author: JoAnna

An open minded, tree-hugging Christian, former counselor, and life-long lover of animals, I'm returning to my creative roots and have published my first book: Trust the Timing, A Memoir of Finding Love Again. I also paint angels.

20 thoughts on “The Turtle at the Chinese Restaurant

  1. It is never easy to go through our parents things and life. I tried that with my father 19 years ago.
    Nice to read about this turtle’s history 🙂

  2. Ah! A beautiful story that teaches us to look beyond what we see with our eyes…there is always a story underneath that explains things more clearly…yes? I have been trying very hard to think this when my judgmental self starts to speak…and then I try to come up with stories that would squash my judgment right into the ground! (AKA…telling my ego to go take a hike!)
    Love the story…love the turtle…love the lesson!
    And P.S. I have never been to a Chinese buffet…and a new friend has been raving about it and even gave me a coupon. The summer seems to have flown by and we never went…but now our trip south has been postponed due to the frightening storm Irma…so maybe after reading this I will finally go today 😉
    Sweet Blessings, Joanna 💜

    • Thank you, Lorrie. You picked right up on those lessons I remind myself of with this story. 🙂 There is a wide range of quality in Chinese buffets. Some are excellent and I hope that is the case if you go to one. I always like the sauteed green beans, regardless. I hope you stay safe and dry, my friend. Praying Irma softens and goes out to sea. Sending hugs and love along with the prayers for your safety.

  3. I STILL have boxes of Katie’s stuff in the garage!

  4. This reminds me of the restaurant we used to sometimes eat at when we couldn’t face any more emptying cupboards and sorting boxes at my mum’s house. Places we visit at times like that have a strange, extra-sharp focus in our mind’s eye, I think. I’m not surprised the turtle’s fate bothered you so much. Glad to hear he’s got a perch now.

  5. Pingback: Finite – WordPress Daily Prompt | kirstwrites

  6. It’s a good story. Your feelings are understandable, and they form your perception. Great lesson about being open to new perspectives.

  7. Oh, JoAnna! So glad you stopped to thank the manager about the piece of log to test the weary turtle upon. By doing so, it was like Paul Harvey says, you got to hear “The Rest of the Story!” So caring and changes the way you feel about the Chinese restaurant and buffet. hugs xo 💖

  8. The turtle may now rest upon the wooden log in the water and look out at people too.

  9. That would have bothered me too I’m glad the turtle was saved but it sure took them a long time to get thee act together. Maybe you could research what a captive turtle needs and make a suggestion to the manager, Just do it in a very kind manner and maybe the manager will comply.

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