Printer's Alley will never be the same, wrote a friend when she shared on Facebook the tweet by NewsChannel 5 anchor Chris Cannon. Of course, when Sam, known at "The Sushi Nazi" of Sam's Sushi--on Church Street around the corner from Printer's Alley--decided to close he'd announce it just like he did "No Sushi for You."
Nashvillians cracked wry smiles, raised eyebrows and went back for more--the abuse and the sushi. A loyal following deemed it worth the intimidation: you'd better know and follow Sam's rules, such as, sit down and when Sam was good and ready, he'd yell out from behind the counter at you and take your order. You'd better not try to go to the counter or place an order any other way or he'd snarl at you something ferocious. I'd heard he'd kicked many a potential customer out the door with his tongue lashings. Mothers with children? "No! Get out!" Tourists with suitcases?: "NO TOURISTS! GET OUT!" (Welcome to Nashville, BTW.)
I took my spiritual teacher there once and, angrily, he insisted in leaving and that he could not and would not go there because Sam was inflicting pain upon people and to eat there was to endorse his behavior. He challenged me in why I had taken him there and why I would recommend anyone go there and thus be inflicted with Sam's treatment.
The last time I went, I was with a friend who'd never been to Sam's. As we waited for our delicious sushi, I was able to look up ahead and watch Sam working behind the counter. I studied his energy concentrated on the task before him. I watched his slow, meticulous preparations, methodically cutting long strips of cucumber. And then I said to my friend: he just wants to make his art. His art is sushi. And his art of sushi is his zen. People get in the way of that. My friend, a wise Persian, smiled slyly and nodded in agreement.
I was struck by the profundity of what I had observed and it was another lesson in how we rush to judge others and their actions. (He was easy to judge.) And, also how we personalize. (It was easy to personalize the way he treated his customers, especially if it was you on the receiving end of the Sushi Nazi's fury.) Sam was operating out his own personal universe, just as we all are until we learn, if we ever do, to think more globally and outside of ourselves. It wasn't personal to anyone but him. If we reacted, we came from ego and made it personal. That's something else I've been repeatedly learning. When I react to something, I'm coming from my ego and making it personal to me, ignoring all the dynamics, many that I do not know, such as the pain, the bad day, the whatevers of another individual's personal universe.
Sam was a microcosmic lesson of life as shown in the zen of the art of sushi making. Sam, may you enjoy your zen in the rest of your days without the hassle of pain-in-the-butt customers. :)