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Fortune Cookie Conspiracy

March 26, 2010

Recently, I went on a very excruciating bike ride with a close friend of mine through the foothills of south San Jose, CA. My legs began cramping and on the way down, the only thoughts that consumed me were of bathing in a giant tank of Fruitopia, and eating something greasy. I was dehydrated and I needed energy that only Chinese buffet glory can offer. Luckily, in South San Jose, I found the Panda Express on Branham. As a chain, I have always felt a certain amount of compassion for Panda Express. They have overcome the sometimes stomach wrenching aspects of buffet style Chinese and have created an enterprise with delicious orange chicken as its corner stone. However, this experience was going to unravel a more draconian side of this normally well-mannered organization.

On this day of already harrowing physical endeavoring, we were welcomed by the Panda’s open and fried rice laden arms. After filling enough of our stomachs with Sobe green tea and crumbly bits of perfectly seasoned orange chicken, my friend and I opened our fortune cookies. As a strong believer in the fate of such an insignificant American pastime, I waited for my hands to catch up to my anticipation. I pulled out the fortune, simultaneously tossing a bit of cookie in my mouth as to not break with superstition. I read my fortune: “You will soon benefit from a career opportunity.” I was dumbfounded. YES! I will get a job, and live happily ever after. My imagination went wild. I thought of a great new apartment, a swimming pool, the American dream, and joyously waking to every day being better than the last. My endorphin filled imagination kept me in dreamland for a more than a few seconds.

But then my friend opened his and catapulted me back to reality. His read: “You will be successful in a business of your own.” Wait, what? I put my imagination on hold, and ran a quick statistics calculation. My superior math skills found that it is more likely to hit by lightning than to get two fortune cookies that are about the same positive outcome: successful careers. I had eaten a lot of Chinese and it was the first time I had gotten such a fortune. Needless to say, two alike each other was a little strange. Then it hit me; I had been duped.

I looked up at the Panda on the side of the building, seeing its fiery red pupils clearly for the first time. It could have been my mental state, but I am as sure now as I was then about our predicament, Panda Express was taking advantage of the bad economy for a little subliminal advertising. With so many people jobless or in careers of their lesser choosing, they enacted a plan to get people to buy more orange chicken: make more fortune cookies contain positive fortunes about one’s career. With that sort of pat on the back, who wouldn’t return again to this cult temple of Chinese American fast cuisine? It was instant costumer loyalty, but sadly it was played under the guise of fates that they could not possibly control. For me, this was serious!

So, I called Guest Services at 800.877.8988 to voice my very real concern about this fortune cookie debacle. Even after ten minutes of graphic description of the fortunes and my belief of manipulating the public, the friendly representative didn’t budge in his testimony. He reassured me that I was just lucky. Maybe so, but the feeling in my gut will continue to say otherwise.

From now on when I pass the Panda, I will walk swiftly for their mind control is severe and quick.

Ugh, my stomach is growling. Anyone up for orange chicken?…Crap.

– Chris

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