ezekiel's chariot - 張敦楷 (pjammer) wrote,
ezekiel's chariot - 張敦楷

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My Racial Incident in Oakland

So last week I was at Togos, grabbing a post-Crossfit salad in downtown Oakland.

As expected given the demographics of the region, the three teenagers behind the counter were all Black; they were cheerful, efficient and helped me with my order of a spinach salad.

The girl in the cornrows said: "You can choose a dressing with your salad, sir - which would you prefer?"

Me: "Ok, what are your choices?"

Cornrows: "Well, we have vinaigrette, thousand island, blue cheese, Asian flavor-"

Me: "Excuse me - Asian flavor?"

Now mind you - I used a neutral tone but this lady doesn't know me, and it was clear from the horrified expression on her face in response to my question that she assumed I was one of those racially-sensitive knee-jerk types who'd thunder "What, just because I'm Asian, you're going to offer me Asian flavor? What kind of racist jackasses do you have working here?!"

Of course, friends who know me understand that I have a hearty disregard for these silly conventions and take great delight in racially-charged humor. Back to the girl:

Cornrows: "NONONONO - I'm sorry sir, I'm not offering Asian flavor because YOU'RE ... uhm, it just because you're .... uhm ... look here"

And anxiously took out the bottle of what appears to be Thai peanut sauce, showing me that it was indeed labeled "Asian Flavor" by her clueless corporate overlords. I laughingly waved it off, reassuring her that I was not offended by her suggestion and happily took a packet of "Asian" flavor for my lunch salad. As I handed my money over, I asked the entire team behind the counter "So if 'Asian' flavor is just Thai Peanut, what would "Black" flavor taste like?"

The tall, light-skinned teen boy next to her brightened up and said: "Oh that's easy man. That'd be Barbecue sauce!"

And the entire place erupted in laughter.

It seems I can't even have a normal racially-charged incident in Oakland like everyone else. :(

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