Moishe Plotnik’s Chinese Laundry


Walking through San Francisco’s Chinatown, a tourist was fascinated with all the Chinese restaurants, shops, signs and banners. One particular building, however, caught his eye with the sign ‘Moishe Plotnik’s Chinese Laundry’.

The tourist wondered how that name fit into Chinatown. So he walked into the shop and saw a typical Chinese laundry and saw that the proprietors were clearly aware of the uniqueness of the name as there were also souvenirs such as baseball hats, T- Shirts and coffee mugs emblazoned with the logo ‘Moishe Plotnik’s Chinese Laundry’ available.

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.

“Can you tell me how this place got a name like ‘Moishe Plotnik’s Chinese Laundry’?” the tourist asked.

The kind shop owner answered, “Ahh… Everybody ask that. Is name of owner.”

“Oh… is he here now?”

“He is right here,” replied the kind gentleman. “He is me.”

“Really? How did you receive a name like Moishe Plotnik?” the tourist asked.

“Is simple,” said the owner answered. “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, ‘Sam Ting’.”

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