That’s Their Excuse And They’re Chop-Sticking To It

, , , , , | Working | June 20, 2017

(I am 15. A few of my friends and I, along with my and one of my friend’s fathers, have decided to go out for dinner. This is the type of place where you don’t order individual dishes, but a set of 14 dishes are gradually added to the table. We are the only table there, as we decided to go out before rush hour started. We are seated at our table and begin to talk as we wait for plates and utensils to be handed out. Note that my father and I are the only white people at the table, but have lived in Wuzhen for eight years. My father is fluent in Mandarin, and I am semi-fluent, as my school is taught in English.)

Waitress: *in English* “Good evening, all. We hope you enjoy your food.” *in Mandarin* “[Waiter #1], this table needs plates, bowls, and chopsticks, now!”

(Waiter #1 comes over with a stack of plates and chopsticks and sets them down in front of each of us. As he turns to leave a second waiter comes by and peers over our table before doing a double take and marching over to Waiter #1 and whispering something inaudible. Waiter #2 then walks over to the cutlery tray and picks up two forks before coming back over to our table, shooing the first waiter away. I can hear him say something along the lines of “Get it right.”)

Waiter #2: *picking up my chopsticks and replacing it with the fork, doing the same with my father, and speaking in English* “Sorry for the mix-up, sir. [Waiter #1] is still in training.”

(My father stops him, taking the chopsticks back.)

Dad: “No thank you, sir. I am happy using chopsticks; so is my daughter.” *he gestures to me* “May we have them back?”

Waiter #2: “Are you sure, sir? It’s okay not to use chopsticks.”

Dad: *nods* “I know how to use chopsticks, sir. May I have them back?”

(The waiter then frowns before scurrying off, with our forks and chopsticks, coming back after a minute with the waitress.)

Waitress: *to my father* “What is the problem, sir?”

Dad: “I would just like to have my and my daughter’s chopsticks back. That waiter left when I said I didn’t want a fork.”

Waitress: *pauses and then to [Waiter #2] in Mandarin* “What’s wrong? Give him the chopsticks.”

Waiter #2: *snarkily in Mandarin* “Are you stupid? No! He’ll try to use them, dirty them, and ask for a fork. It happens every time. Just give him a fork to start with.”

Waitress: “What makes you so sure he can’t use them?”

Waiter #2: “Look at him! Of course he can’t. All the Westerners that come here leave their chopsticks, but dirty them trying! If he changes his mind and asks for a fork, you can wash the chopsticks, not me.”

Dad: *in fluent Mandarin* “Excuse me, sir. What makes you think my daughter and I can’t use them?”

(Cue the waitress and waiter looking in surprise at my father. The waiter glares at him incredulously before slowly placing the chopsticks back down on his plate, marching angrily around to my table and shoving them down onto mine as well, and storming off. The waitress is still standing there in shock, embarrassed.)

Waitress: *in Mandarin* “Apologies, sir.”

Dad: “It’s no problem.”

(She rushes off back towards the kitchen and my friends and I begin to eat the food that has been set out for us. We can still spot Waiter #2 glaring at us from the corner of the room, waiting for one of us to give in and ask for a fork. It’s beginning to get slightly unnerving, so I choose to ignore him. My friend is struggling with her chopsticks, as she has just transferred from America but appears Korean as her father is. Her father eventually calls the waiter over to ask for a fork.)

Waiter #2: *sneering proudly like he’s just won a bet* “Gladly, sir.”

(He grabs a fork and walks around the table to where I am sitting, thrusting the fork in front of me and snatching the chopsticks from my bowl.)

Waiter #2: “Here you go, madam.”

Me: *in Mandarin* “Oh, those aren’t for me. Those are for [Friend].” *I gesture to my friend who is shyly raising her hand on the other side of the table* “I don’t need them but—”

(The waiter walks away before I can finish my sentence. He takes the fork back and gives it to my friend, frowning.)

Me: “Excuse me, sir?”

Waiter #2: *exasperated* “Yes, madam?”

Me: “May I have another pair of chopsticks? You’re holding mine from the top.”

(The waiter looks down and sure enough is still holding my used chopsticks in his hand. He glares at me a moment before exclaiming in Mandarin “You’re a tourist. Just use a fork like everyone else!” and then marching off towards the kitchen. He never returned with my chopsticks, so I ended up using my friend’s instead. I don’t know how long he had been working there, as I hadn’t been there before, but surely he must have seen a white person use chopsticks before. Needless to say, we haven’t been back since.)

A Model Racist

, , , , | Right | June 19, 2017

(My mother, my sister, and I are at a store to upgrade my phone. A lady in her 30s and what I assume is her mother walk in and ask to see a model for the new IPhone 6. Worker #1, who is a black man in is 20s, is told by Worker #2 that since they already have a model out, he can’t bring out a second one. Worker #1 tells the woman that he cannot show her the model at this time, and she and her mother go and browse the store. Five minutes later, a black man in his 60s comes up and asks also to see a model of the IPhone 6. Since the other model has been put back, Worker #1 shows it to him. After the man leaves, the lady and her mother storm back up to the counter.)

Customer: “I knew you were a racist!”

Worker #1: “Excuse me, ma’am?”

Customer: “I saw you give that BLACK man the model and not me! Does your manager know its staff is comprised of racists?! I DEMAND to see the manager and have you fired!”

(Worker #1 seems quite shaken up about this, and turns towards the manager, who is helping me and my family upgrade my phone.)

Worker #1: “[Manager] can you come here for a moment?”

Manager: “Excuse me, ladies.”

(The manager walks over and we can hear her trying to explain the situation to the customer, but the customer continues to argue and starts to raise her voice. My sister and I are trying our best to ignore her, but my mother decides to butt in when the lady starts to verbally attack the young man.)

Mother: “Oh, for the love of god! Would you just calm down?! This is obviously not his fault and you are disturbing the peace!”

Customer: “Stay out of this; this isn’t any of your business!”

Mother: “I think you made it EVERYONE’S business when you started screaming like a lunatic!”

(The woman and her mother leave in a huff, grumbling to each other. My mother turns to Worker #1.)

My Mother: “Don’t worry, dear, you did nothing wrong. You seem like an excellent young man, and she was a crazy b****.”

(Worker #1 chuckles and says thank you, and the manager comes back to help us. A tiny, old woman that was standing at the back of the store comes up to the counters and speaks to my mother.)

Old Woman: “Thank you for doing that; she was driving me insane!”

When A Punch Line Gets You Punched

, , , , | Friendly | June 16, 2017

(We are on holiday and are checking into our hotel.)

Receptionist: “How are you enjoying New York so far?”

Friend: “It’s great! I didn’t expect there to be so many [Racial Slur]s about!”

(The receptionist, who is black, glares at him.)

Friend: “Did I say it right? I heard that’s what white people did in America now.”

(That seemed to dissolve the tension slightly, and I’m hoping she just assumed my friend was making an off-colour joke with all the racial tensions being felt in the country. Personally though, knowing my friend, he was just being racist.)

We Expect Better From Hairdressers

, , , , , | Working | June 14, 2017

(I am a gay trans man, but due to being camp and my face structure, people still sometimes read me as female. I’m currently having my hair cut.)

Hairdresser #1: “I was surprised when that customer’s wife came to meet him! With those tight trousers, I was sure he was gay!”

Hairdresser #2: “I know! It’s so hard to tell who’s gay and who’s normal these days!”

Different Accents Of Racism

, , , , , | Working | June 14, 2017

(I am a head cashier. I have been called to the checkouts to assist a young couple of Indian descent. After serving them:)

Manager: “It’s a good thing you could handle that. I couldn’t understand a word they were saying.”

Me: “They sounded Glaswegian to me.”

Manager: “How would you know? You’re from Sheffield.”

Me: “Why didn’t you? Haven’t you lived in Glasgow all your life?”

Manager: “True. I wonder why I couldn’t understand them.”

Me: “Racism?”

(She wasn’t best pleased with me.)

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