Illustration by Kalah Allen

Dear local pho house waiter man—Remember the time our steaming veggie pho soup had fleas in it? I remember. We tried to avoid them and be polite, but with each dip of the painted ceramic soup spoon there was a fear, and a flea. We felt bad, and were totally critted out, so we timidly pulled you tableside to show you our fleas. You turned red, and tried to say something, but your English was no good, so the words didn't come. We felt bad again, and were bummed because we liked our local pho house. We wanted to believe it was just a bad bunch of Thai basil that caused the disturbance in our meal, but we couldn't muster the courage to come back for months. Tonight, however, we decided to give you a second chance. We ordered the usual veggie pho. When the soup came, I took a bite. It was warm and tasted as it should. Unfortunately, when I went in for bite number two there was something camped out on my broccoli. It wasn't a flea. No, this little buddy was far worse. He was a maggot. This is why we left without eating and without saying goodbye. This is why we will never see you again.—Anonymous