By Assunta Ng
Next week will be Northwest Asian Weekly’s 33rd anniversary.
So how did 2014 fare for the newspaper?
“Insanity” might be the proper description. Never have I experienced so much madness in a year during my 32 years as publisher of the Northwest Asian Weekly and the Seattle Chinese Post. Here’s an abbreviated run-down:
1. Seahawks madness
There was massive uproar at the Seahawks Super Bowl parade on Feb. 5. The parade started at Seattle Center and continued on to CenturyLink Field. The Chinatown/International District is right next to the stadium. It happened on a Wednesday, right before we went to press.
I had never seen so much madness in the city before. In fact, I couldn’t move my body once I was on 4th Avenue with the crowd on the sidewalk. I pushed through the stairway going to the stadium. It was estimated that more than 700,000 people were attending the parade. My staff gave up getting into the stadium. I tried to push my way into the stadium with my media credentials.
However, as soon as I got in, I wanted out quickly, as if I was in a hot frying pan. The fans’ famous noise, which can shake the area like an earthquake, just battered my eardrums and I felt as if they could burst in any second. I couldn’t take it despite my enthusiasm for the team.
Many ID restaurants reported ceaseless customers in one day. But the parade created nightmares for stores like Uwajimaya. After the event, people tried to get out and some went into stores not so much to shop, but to use the restroom and shoplift. There was not enough staff to control the people streaming in continuously, packing every inch of the store.
2. Dirty old man
“A cop posing as a prostitute in Chinatown is trying to set up my husband,” explained a Chinese immigrant in her 30s. “He doesn’t speak English.” She told me that the prostitute waved at him and he just waved back.
“He didn’t know what was going on. That’s discrimination. This is so wrong.” She brought in her 80-year-old husband to my office last summer.
She even showed me the court papers. I was eager to help. So when I saw Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole at an event, I told her about the incident. Her aides immediately checked out the facts.
Holy cow, the husband was actually a dirty old man.
“He speaks English,” said the aide. “When the [sting] cop told him that it costs $80 to have sex, he said $40.”
If he knows how to bargain for sex, and came to my office to ask for help, he’s just a sly and foolish dog who thinks he could absolve his crime by playing the race card. Shame on you old man for cheating on your wife and lying to us.
3. The great pretender
Last September, there was a document left at the Weekly’s reception desk asking me to pay so-and-so $16,570. My first reaction was, “What? This is crazy!”
After a few seconds, I realized it was a fake court document asking for compensation for not running an ad.
The signature belonged to a real estate agent who placed a classified ad in the Seattle Chinese Post and other Chinese papers. A couple approached me and said he took the deposit money and didn’t do what he promised. We asked him to refund the deposit to the couple. He didn’t. Since then, we have rejected his ads in the Chinese Post. Our papers reserve the right to refuse advertisements if it deems inappropriate. He was furious.
I filed a police report regarding the letter.
How can you tell if it’s fake? Capt. Mark Siano said, “Court letters have signatures from judges. This one doesn’t have one.”
Also, there are several (at least 14) grammatical errors in the letter. The copy was poorly typed with strange spacing. It didn’t even have the right envelope and letterhead or name of our newspaper.
A jerk is a jerk and always a jerk.
4. Check, one, two, three…Is this thing on?
Have you ever organized an event and the most important person didn’t show up? It happened to us with our Women of Color Empowered lunch on Sept.19.
The sound man didn’t show up.
We didn’t detect any sign of trouble at first because all the equipment was there.
I felt so bad for the first three speakers because they didn’t have a microphone. But the master of ceremonies, Jean Hernandez, held her reins.
“I’ll just handle it,” she said. And she did with calm, poise, and voice like thunder.
After several calls, the sound man came. He couldn’t get up in the morning since all his work is usually done at night. He was worrying that he couldn’t get up, so he moved in all his sound system the night before the event.
What do you do with man who is not a morning person?
5. Obsessive customers’ awards
Goes to my son! Since Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot Restaurant’s opening on Oct. 18, my son has dined there with friends as many as 15 times. He explains that the $5 off coupon makes for a delicious cheap meal and it’s usually his friends who want to go. But I don’t believe him!
Oh, and one of my staff shops so much at Macy’s that she has more than a full closet of Macy’s merchandise at home. Macy’s sales and coupons in the Asian Weekly often appeal to her. One time, she bought so much underwear that she resold them to me and other staff. I wish Macy’s can give her an award for being the best customer!
6. Disastrous review
When I heard someone reviewed our event’s food and not the event itself, something went terribly wrong.
The Asian Weekly organizes nine events a year, including three lunches and three dinners. We never expected anybody to come for our events’ food! I thought people come for our honorees and the purpose of the event. I was too naïve.
There was a nasty review on Yelp and it was bad enough to make the restaurant owner shed tears. The owners did offer to meet with the reviewer to see if they could improve. They never met, but the reviewer eventually deleted his review.
7. Serious illness
“I am in the hospital, going for emergency surgery,” one of my staff members said.
What? On Wednesday? Our production day? For a moment, I was lost. But then, I came to my senses fast.
Deal with it, I told myself.
Talk about dedication. For 32 years, my staff and I were trained not to get sick on Wednesdays.
But on Wednesday early morning, she had sudden immense back pain.
“You need immediate surgery to take your gall bladder out,” the doctor told her at the emergency room.
Somehow, we dealt with the crisis by calling our part-timers to come in. One brave soul came to save us.
8. Surprise trip to Hong Kong
I never expected to go to Hong Kong last June for the Delta Airlines inaugural non-stop flight from Seattle to HK.
Initially, I turned down the offer. Why? Because I was crazy thinking only about work and the Asian Weekly Foundation’s summer youth leadership program.
Luckily, Delta Vice President Mike Medeiros said later, “Are you sure you don’t want to come with us?”
The rest was history. I got to fly business class and stayed in a five-star hotel.
Yes, a year of insanity. (end)