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    Crouching Tiger, Hidden Powers

    | Queens, NYC, NY, USA | Awesome Customers, Awesome Workers, Family & Kids, Food & Drink, Top, Wild & Unruly

    (I’m half-Chinese, but with my sunglasses on, people usually can’t tell. I’m fluent in Mandarin. One day I get a text from my friend, a grade-school teacher.)

    Friend: “You speak Chinese, right?”

    Me: “Yeah, why?”

    Friend: “Come down to [intersection] around noon and explain what the f*** is going on.”

    (At my lunch break I head down there. On one side of the street is a crowd of school kids, while on the other side an elderly Chinese man with an ice cream cart.)

    Kid #1: “I’m gonna do it.”

    Kid #2: “No way.”

    Kid #1: “Yeah way. I’m fast enough!”

    Kid #2: “You’re not Chinese.”

    Kid #1: “So?”

    Kid #2: “Only [Chinese name] can do it.”

    Kid #1: “I’m gonna do it.”

    (Kid #1 dashes across the street, yanks back the cover of the cart, and grabs a handful of ice cream. He takes off, but the vendor catches him, pinning both arms behind his back.)

    Vendor: “Ah, three bars? Your total is $9.28.”

    Kid #1: “Lemme go!”

    (The vendor removes some money from the kid’s pocket with his free hand.)

    Vendor: “Cash paid is $20.”

    Kid #1: “Yeah, yeah, I know the drill.”

    (While still holding the struggling kid, the vendor deposits the $20 in his till and takes out change.)

    Vendor: “Your change is $10.72.”

    (The vendor puts the change and ice creams in a bag and hands them to the kid, who takes off.)

    Vendor: “Have a nice day!”

    Kid #2: “Told you.”

    Kid #1: “Fine! Okay, [Chinese name], you do it!”

    (A short Chinese boy steps forward. His clothes are patched and despite the weather, he’s not wearing a coat.)

    Chinese Kid: “Let us meditate… on the way of the wind.”

    (He strikes a ridiculous pose and exhales loudly. The other kids jump back.)

    Chinese Kid: “…on the way of the snake…”

    (New pose, hissing loudly. The others back away even more.)

    Chinese Kid: “…on the way of the hawk.”

    (He flaps his arms and jumps in a circle. The kids are a good twenty feet away now.)

    Chinese Kid: “The meditation is done.”

    (He runs up to the ice cream vendor and grabs a handful of bars. The vendor strikes him with an exaggerated karate chop which the kid easily blocks.)

    Chinese kid: *flees, speaking Chinese* “Thank you, Mr. [Name]!”

    Vendor: *shakes his fist angrily, also in Chinese* “Sorry, we are out of lime today!”

    (The Chinese kid kicks towards the vendor from across the street.)

    Chinese kid: “My mother says she hopes your leg feels better!”

    Vendor: *red-faced with rage* “It does! Tell her thank you for the tea!”

    (The kids are enthralled. As they eat the ice cream, I approach the vendor.)

    Me: *in Chinese* “What just happened?”

    Vendor: “Oh… you understood. That little boy is a new immigrant, and all the other children mocked him because he is small and weak. He told them Chinese people have special powers, and they beat him up and told him to prove it. But I overheard and whispered to him to rob me. Now we have a deal.”

    Me: “How wonderful!” *pointing behind him* “Hey, can you tell what that is?”

    (As he turns around, I drop some money on the cart and grab a bar of ice cream, fleeing.)

    Vendor: “You forgot your change!”

    Me: *shakes my fist* “It’s a tip!”

    Kids: “Whoa! How did you do that?”

    (I slip off my sunglasses. The Chinese kid bows to me and I bow back.)

    Kid #2: “Told you they have special powers. Never bully a Chinese kid, man. Never!”