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And Just Like That He Was Sai-Gone

, , , | Right | June 3, 2021

I’m working in a cute little Vietnamese sandwich place and, like all cultural food places, it does have food and ingredients that are traditionally known in other Asian cultures. A white man walks in wearing a business suit, his head held high, and there’s this haughtiness about him that I notice as soon as he walks up to my register. He takes a long look at the menu and then makes a show of observing all of our extra snacks and drinks.

Customer: “So… this is Vietnamese food.”

Me: “Yes, it is!”

Customer: “But your sandwich up there has Kimchi.”

Me: “Yes.”

Customer: “That’s Korean, you know.”

Me: “Yes, I know.”

Customer: “And your snacks here are all Japanese.”

Me: “I suppose. Cultures tend to mix, you know. Our main focus is the menu.”

He stares at me suspiciously.

Customer: “You’re not Vietnamese, are you?”

Me: “No, actually, I’m half-Samoan.”

He nods, although I’m not sure if my answer is satisfactory for him. 

Customer: “Cool, cool. I didn’t think you were. I know all of this stuff because I spent a couple of years in Vietnam on business trips.”

I just nod and smile. He picks up a small plastic case with a brownie.

Customer: “Wow, you sell brownies, too! I didn’t know brownies could be Vietnamese.”

Me: *Slightly irked* “Well, a Vietnamese lady made them, so I suppose that’s what makes them Vietnamese.”

Customer: “Hmm.” *Put the brownie down* “I suppose you have a point.”

I tried to break the awkwardness by suggesting some of our popular items off our menu, and I recommended the Pho since that was basically our star item for anybody who is familiar with Vietnamese culture and food, all of which were ignored. After another minute of him just staring at the menu above me, he turned and left without buying anything.

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