Scene at the Hastings Park Horse Track in Vancouver
Many of you already know that Vancouver has a large Asian population. So there is a sizeable contingent of Asian people who gamble regularly at the horse racetrack.
I was in the (long) line for the concession, next to be served. There were two windows, but one line. An old Asian guy walked up to the second window and tried to butt in line. The following exchange ensued.
Woman behind me: oh, he thinks he’s gonna get away with that, eh?
Me: yeah, what the hell?
Woman behind me: excuse me, sir, you need to wait in line. See, there’s a big line. You need to go to the back of the line.
Old Asian Man: [ignores her]
Woman behind me: [to me] Do you speak Chinese? Do you speak Mandarin?
Me: [surprised] Yes!
Woman behind me: Well, talk to him then.
Me: Well, uh… [to Old Asian Man] Ni yinggai pai dui (you need to wait in line). [to woman behind me] I have no idea if he speaks Mandarin.
Employee behind the counter: go wait in line. She’s next.
Old Asian Man: [in English] okay, fine, I’ll wait. [goes to back of line] [btw, I like that he was just totally ignoring us, and by like I mean “think that was rude”].
Then I go up to the counter and get the food. On my way out:
Me: [to woman behind me in line] How on earth did you know I speak Chinese? Did you think I was Asian?
Her: no, I didn’t think you were Asian. You just look like someone who might speak Chinese.
So apparently I… look like someone who might speak Chinese? A nerdy white hipster in a black dress and sunglasses? What?
p.s. I really shouldn’t have spoken Mandarin to that man. It’s not nice (and it’s racist) to just randomly start speaking Chinese to an Asian person. I felt obligated because it was such a bizarre situation. Nobody has ever just randomly asked out of the blue if I speak Chinese. But I shouldn’t have done it.