The Chinese Laundry

Jonathan D. Safren yon_saf at
Fri Dec 29 11:46:50 EST 2000

Walking through San Francisco's Chinatown, a tourist from the Midwest was 
fascinated with all the Chinese restaurants, shops, signs and banners.  He 
turned a corner and saw a building with the sign "Moishe Plotnik's Chinese 
"Moishe Plotnik?" he wondered.  "How does that fit in Chinatown?"
So he walked into the shop and saw a fairly standard looking chinese laundry. 
 He can see that the proprietors are clearly aware of the uniqueness of the 
name as there are baseball hats, T-Shirts and coffee mugs emblazoned with the 
logo "Moishe Plotnik's Chinese Laundry."
There was also a fair selection of Chinatown souvenirs, indicating that the 
name alone has brought many tourists into the shop.
The tourist selected a coffee cup as a conversation piece to take back to his 
office.  Behind the counter was a smiling old Chinese gentleman who thanked 
him for his purchase in English, thickly accented with Chinese.
The tourist asked, "Can you tell me how this place got a name like "Moishe 
Plotnik's Chinese Laundry?"
The old man answered, "Ahh...  Everybody ask that.  Is name of owner."
Looking around, the tourist asked, "Is he here now?"
"He is right here," replied the old man.  "He is me."
"Really?  How did you ever get a name like Moishe Plotnik?"
"Is simple," said the old man.  "Many, many year ago when come to this 
country, was stand in line at Documentation Center.  Man in front is Jewish 
gentleman from Poland.
"Lady look at him and say, 'What your name?' "He say, 'Moishe Plotnik.' "Then 
she look at me and say, 'What your name?' "I say, 'Sem Ting.'"

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