My husband is traveling most of this week, so I’m on my own for dinner. Most of my favorite options, like my beloved cheese shop and the yummy korean barbecue place, are closed Monday. It’s a way for small businesses to get a modified weekend so I don’t mind figuring out other options.

I decided to stop by one of the local Chinese takeout places, which was easy to get on my way home. They are one of the more consistently good producers of my go-to choices, chicken with broccoli. I also like their generous portions of wonton soup. I decided to get a quart of each.

I arrived right after I got off work, which put me in at about 4:30. The place was absolutely dead. The front door was propped open and almost all the lights were turned off. The weather had been relatively pleasant for August, so it kind of made sense. A middle-aged woman sat behind the counter, facing away from me. A middle aged man dressed in a simple stretched out white tee shit was in the back.

I placed my order and sat at one of the empty tables while the woman began prepping my order. Looking around the empty restaurant, I see two fading thank you signs from a local school or daycare. Apparently, the restaurant had some involvement in the school’s Chinese new year celebration. But it must have been a while ago, as the marker writing was nearly gone. An overgrown office plant’s tendrils wove around them, held to the wall with thumbtacks and staples.

All the while, I kept smelling cigarette smoke. With the door propped open, I figured it must be coming from outside. The strip mall’s shops were close together, so it wasn’t unlikely that I would catch a wafting smoker from outside. But the smell soon became stronger, and as the woman finished my order and called me up to the counter to check out, there it was: a lit cigarette burning in an ashtray.

I was too shocked to even say anything, but this was a huge health code issue. Beyond that, Delaware has a state-wide smoking ban for all restaurants. She didn’t seem to even care, but instead slowly closed and put away the naturalization study guide she was working on before I came in. I left without another word, not sure what to make of it or even if I could report this to someone. In spite of always having a good meal from them, this kind of negligence just can’t be ignored. I definitely won’t be going back.