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Gweilo-No-No

, , , , , | Right | July 21, 2021

I work at a grocery store that also has fish in their pet department, which I am in charge of maintaining this evening. An Asian man walks up.

Me: “Hello, sir. Do you need help?”

Male Customer: “No.”

Me: “If you need assistance, feel free to let me know.”

I continue to clean tanks and do paperwork nearby, in view. An Asian woman joins him looking at fish and I ask again if they need help. I’m told no and I repeat my message to let me know if they need assistance.

A few minutes pass. I’m keeping busy with tanks and the two are just staring at me making me very uncomfortable. I keep cleaning. After five more minutes of staring, the woman snaps.

Female Customer: “Aren’t you going to get us fish?”

Me: “I apologize! Absolutely!”

Female Customer: “We have been waiting ten minutes! This is ridiculous!”

Me: “I’m sorry. I did say to let me know if you needed help. I apologize for that wait.”

She tells me the fish she wants — a specific goldfish out of tanks of hundreds of goldfish that look near identical and two male bettas that she tries to get me to bag together — and demands a giant bag that holds a gallon for a single twenty-five-cent goldfish.

The entire time, she and the man are talking smack about me in Mandarin, which I studied for five years in school. I know enough to keep up a conversation and know they are talking in racial slurs and talking about how I must be in an abusive sexual relationship with a woman because of my shaved hair; I’m female with heavy scarring on my scalp from a car crash.

I hand them their fish.

Me: *In Mandarin* “Here you go, have a good day. I had an accident and am happily engaged. Don’t talk about what you don’t know.”

Watching their faces pale was delightful and their complaint to my boss was ignored.

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