Panda Express is a well-oiled machine, designed to make sure you always get what you didn’t want.

Once every week or two, I pick up dinner at Panda Express on the way home. I usually get the rice bowl with mandarin chicken, and an order of rangoon. The rangoon is served with a small side of sweet and sour sauce poured into a plastic cup.

I’ve never been a fan of sweet and sour sauce, so I used to say I don’t want the sauce. But it usually ended in failure. The problem is someone behind the counter would walk by my order as I was waiting for the cashier, see an order of rangoon without the cup of sauce, and think, “oh, someone forgot to pour a cup”. Sometimes I’d be able to catch that person in time, sometimes not. Sometimes it would happen multiple times by the time I get to the cashier. Usually I left with a cup of sweet and sour sauce. Eventually, I gave up on the matter of asking altogether.

Today, the person making my order forgot to pour a cup of sauce. Success! It was a slow night, and there was nobody in line ahead of me, so it was quick to the cashier. I paid and left the restaurant, basking in my victory. Granted this was because of inattention by the woman making my order, so it was a hollow victory, but I’ll take them any way I can get them.

I got home and opened my bag. Staring at me was a cup of sweet and sour sauce. She must have poured it while I was reaching for my wallet. Crafty ninja.