Sunday, May 21, 2017

Don't Be Cute

Panda Express at lunchtime had a nightmare of a line at the drive-thru and considering the parking lot was full, I was guessing the line inside was as well. I had a coupon for a free entree and wasn't in a hurry. As I made my way across the lot, I was on an intercept course with two white men who appeared to be college students. I beat them to the door but, since I'm usually a nice guy, held the door open to let them go in before I did.

As I looked up to make eye contact, the tallest looked me up and down. There is nothing that I can point to but a feeling that I had just been weighed and measured went down my spine as soon as my eyes locked onto his.

"Gracias," he said.

"Gracias," his companioned followed.

Oh hell no. I can play that game too. It seemed too long to spit it out but I said, "Bitte."

By then the two guys had their back to me but I saw them look at each other with a confused look, as if to ask, "What did he say?"

Now, I have said many things in plenty of languages, trying to be cute--but only to people I know. I have never done that to a complete stranger. Assuming a person's ethnicity or language on the basis of their appearance can blow up in your face.