Do You Speak Asian?

, , , , | Working | May 2, 2018

(My boyfriend is Chinese, but is fluent in both English and Mandarin. He does have a noticeable accent, which sometimes makes people assume he knows less English than he does. He finds this hilarious and tends to mess with people who do it. This is the best/worst example we’ve seen yet.)

Boyfriend: *approaches cashier with a pair of headphones* “Hi, do you have—”

Cashier: *interrupting him and speaking VERY slowly* “I. Only. Speak. English.”

Boyfriend: *smiling and switching to Mandarin* “Do you have these headphones in any other colors?”

Cashier: “No, no.” *gesturing to herself* “English.”

Boyfriend: *still in Mandarin* “Yes, I heard you the first time.”

(The cashier sees me looking at a nearby display and desperately beckons me over.)

Cashier: “Are you with him?”

(I nod. I am Caucasian and look it, but my boyfriend has taught me a good bit of Mandarin.)

Cashier: “Do you know what he wanted? He—”

Me: *in Mandarin* “Why are you asking me? Talk to him.”

(I turn and go back to my browsing. The cashier throws up her hands in exasperation and cranes her neck, spotting another employee across the store.)

Cashier: *shouting* “[Other Employee], help me, please!”

(The other employee, who is also Asian, comes up to the register.)

Cashier: *pointing to my boyfriend* “I can’t understand him.”

Boyfriend: *to the other employee, still in Mandarin* “Hi, how are you?”

Other Employee: *obviously trying not to laugh* “[Cashier], I’m not Chinese; I’m Japanese, and I don’t even speak that.”


(She flees from the counter, and the second she’s out of earshot, my boyfriend switches back to English.)

Boyfriend: “I was just wondering if you had these headphones in any other colors. Sorry, I think my accent confused her.”

(The other employee just stares for a second before bursting out laughing.)

Other Employee: “Yes, we do! I’m so sorry about her; it’s not the first time she’s done that.”

(He gave us a discount for the trouble, and promised to have a talk with the cashier.)

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