Ode to Toothpick Sample Girl

Stuck killing time in a mall food court, I have become obsessed with the Chinese restaurant toothpick sample girl. As her plate empties, she dejectedly goes back to the counter for more chicken samples.

She hates her job, hates her life. At least that’s what I imagine. But she must refill that plate of poultry and continue dispensing. Her colleagues are counting on her.

With careful observation, I quickly learn her handout strategy: 1 piece of chicken for kids and the obviously homeless; 2 pieces for real potential customers.

Some people return for a second sample – a major faux pas in the food court world, but she politely offers another piece of bourbon chicken anyway.

toothpick sample girl

A defeated smile comes across her face as she hands out samples to people she knows have no intention of actually purchasing an entree.

Many unappreciative passersby can’t be bothered to pretend like they’re considering buying the chicken. Instead, they hurriedly grab a sample and keep right on walking.

Despite the chicken nabbers’ complete inability to feign interest, she perseveres. It’s been 30 minutes now, and the chicken continues flying off her plate, though there’s no evidence the samples have persuaded even a single person to make a purchase.

Toothpick Sample Girl carries on. Though the whole scene is fairly depressing, I can’t look away.

Mercifully, her shift ends, and Toothpick Sample Girl can leave the food court floor and try to regain her pride and sanity. But don’t fear, shopping mall handout-seekers. Toothpick Sample Guy has arrived to take his place…

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