Well That’s a New One…

I had to go to the gas station this morning, and as Lisa mentioned already, it’s been cold lately.

At any rate, an older woman, who was probably in her 50s, got in line behind me at the cash register inside, commented on how cold it was outside, and asked me the following:

“How do you say ‘cold’ in *Asian*?”

I thought I was hearing things.

I paused, and responded with:

“Well, in *Japanese*, you say ‘samuii.'”

I didn’t feel like correcting her about it, other than emphasizing “Japanese,” and even then, it was pretty subtle. I didn’t try and beat her over her head with a fish about it.

Anyways, every one of my friends whom I mentioned this to, most of whom are non-Asian, laughed at my recollection.

First time for everything, eh?

16 Replies to “Well That’s a New One…”

  1. You’re much nicer than I am. I woulda answered her question with one of my own:

    “How do you say loser where you come from?”

  2. This made me laugh out loud. I bet your correction went right over her head, and that she spent the rest of the day feeling proud of herself for learning an Asian word.

  3. A friend of mine told me how one of his friends claimed he knew how to use chopsticks, but turns out he didn’t. Instead of splitting those disposable kind apart, he kept it intact and used it like tongs.
    But in this case, I guess he was being sort of smart, just didn’t know better.

  4. am I the only one who would have politely corrected her? I mean, she obviously wasn’t trying to be mean, she just didn’t know any better. It wasn’t until someone told me that ‘Oriental’ was considered offensive that I stopped using it.

    Sometimes it just takes a bit of patience, and the belief that not all people are racist idiots.

    Ah well… just my thoughts.

  5. Pappy: I think I was too caught off-guard by the question to really do anything else. Sure, in retrospect, I probably should’ve corrected her, but I was also in a hurry and didn’t want to lecture her on the spot. Oh well!

  6. I laughed because I just really find people’s ignorance funny in both an amusing and strange way. If there is a person out there who doesn’t know the difference between “Asian” as a group of people from a given region and the specific languages and cultures in that group, I both laugh and feel sad for them. It obviously reflects more on that person’s particular flavor of ignorance than it does on you or anyone else who speaks, er, “Asian”.

    Waitaminnit. God, I can’t believe someone actually said that. “Speaking Asian”? For chrissakes.

  7. Koga, I think you handled it well. It seems alot of older folks, no matter what ethnicity, have some strange generalizations about other ethnicities.

    I repeatedly have to correct a relative of mine (although Im not as nice as you) for saying someone speaks Mexican.

    “–Its spanish, Mexicans speak spanish” I say. Ah well.

  8. I probably would have asked her, “Which Asian language?” regardless of how stupid it may or may not make her feel. I fully believe in educating the ignorant, if only to make them aware of their own ignorance.

    BTW, isn’t it “samui” with one “i” instead of two?

  9. Very Margaret Cho moment. Reminds me of the standup routine where the radio show asks her to say, “We’re changing network associates” in her native tongue. She says,

    “We’re changing network affiliates”

    They didn’t get it.

  10. Don’t you realize that the only reason she used the word “Asian” is that she probably had her head bitten off by some politically correct asshole in the past, thereby making her afraid to say “Chinese” or “Japanese” or “Oriental” or whatever the fuck jumped into her mind? Get over yourselves, people. I don’t go apeshit when someone mistakenly assumes I’m Irish, or Jewish, or whatever, so just relax when someone doesn’t manage to peg your background.

  11. Stevie, you’re missing the point. If she was terrified of some PC-like bashing, surely she’d be aware that “Asian” is not a language. If she was afraid of something like that, she wouldn’t have said anything remotely race-related at all to someone who was Asian. If someone’s worried about having their head bitten off for not knowing the difference between someone who is Japanese or Chinese or Korean, for instance, she’s not going to go up to someone and say “lemme guess: you’re Korean, right?” The point is that she was just totally unaware that there is a difference at all, or if so, was under the impression that “Asian” is the native language of all people in Asia. She was furthermore assuming that anyone who is Asian would speak this language. It’s just a funny annecdote about an instance of ignorance, it’s not something to have a snit over.

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