Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Epic Fail: I Tried to Connect With Someone Just Because They Were Asian

Act #267:  Assume nothing.

So there I was at the AT&T store, buying my mom a new iPhone for her birthday.  What was I thinking walking into "technology central" unarmed and unaccompanied by my geek husband?  You should know that I get extremely jittery and nervous around gadgets and things that plug in, but it was my lunch break and my mom was due for an upgrade....and her birthday was in a week.  So I put my big kid pants on, did all my homework, and marched right into the lion's den.

And that's when Daniel came to my rescue in the form of the youngest AT&T customer service rep.  He was smiling.  He was young.  He was Asian, people!  Allow me to remind you that I live in Kentucky, where we make up 1.3% of the population.  Needless to say, I was thrilled.  Me buying my Asian mama a new phone and being helped by an Asian tech geek.  Strange as it may be, I immediately felt at ease. Daniel was delightful - a junior finance major at a local university, who grew up in London, KY - a town smaller than the one I lived in, most likely with an Asian population of 0.1%.  My iPhone buying experience was a breeze.  In selecting data plans, Daniel asked what types of things my mom might use the iPhone for.  And here's where it starts to get embarrassing for me.  Epic Fail #1:  I said, "Well, I have an Asian mom and she has to call her people in the motherland, so she might be using some sort of app to make that happen.  You know what I'm talking about."   Daniel casually began to tell me about some international texting/calling apps and then we moved on to finalize the data plan.  Before I knew it, we were engaging in small talk about the best Korean food in town (Daniel is Korean), which is about when I started to digress to Epic Fail #2:  "Well, I'm Thai and my mother lives with us, so I don't have to go to Thai restaurants anymore.  Does your mom teach you to cook Korean?"  Surely you know where this is going.  Come on, go ahead and cringe with me.  That's right, Daniel finally gracefully told me that he was adopted, that he didn't have an "Asian mama", that his mom was from Kentucky and had no clue how to cook Korean food.  And I just literally hung my head in shame at that point.  Lesson learned.  What on earth would possess me to think that by running into someone else in the 1.3%, I would automatically connect with them in every way, and have the exact same story?  How dare I commit the most egregious white person social faux pas of all time:  lumping us all into one big homogeneous category. 

Thank you Daniel from London Kentucky, for reminding me that there may be only 1.3% of us here, but by golly, we represent experiences and perspectives and stories that are as rich and diverse as the other 98.7%.   Oh, and thank you also for the hospitality and service that you extended to me in helping me pick out a phone for my Asian mama.  Your white mama should be so very proud.

No comments:

Post a Comment