as a first generation immigrant, i’ve seen my family through some trying times. for every kind person i meet that restores my faith in humanity, there’s always another that leaves me fuming and wondering how our species survived this far.
i called my mom the other night to catch up and hear about her day. she works 6 days a week which includes working one day at a bay area chinese restaurant. over some coupon dispute that wasn’t even her fault (just following the owner’s instructions), some customer left in a huff, continued to call the restaurant and harass her with racist threats. oh, specifics? he threatened, “you better get ready to run because i’m going to call immigration. i’m going to call the cops on you.”
never mind that the harassment stemmed from a $2 difference that was out of my mom’s control.
never mind that my mom was just doing her job as instructed. if anything, she was doing more than obligated because when this was escalated to the boss, he simply told her to tell the customer that he wasn’t there and to not provide his name or contact information to the customer demanding information. she was basically forced to take the brunt of the customer’s verbal abuse. such cowardice and awful business management.
the phone calls got so frequent and ridiculous that they were disrupting business. the line was tied up (no incoming to-go calls could connect) and my mother couldn’t serve other customers while dealing with the bullshit. eventually the owner conceded to my mother asking for the customer’s contact information so that they could call him back. you see, the owner doesn’t speak english so he had his son call the customer later.
my mom doesn’t know what exactly they discussed but she did receive a call from the disgruntled customer afterwards ‘apologizing.’ he simply said that he was sorry for his tone and reassured her that he wasn’t going to call immigration or the cops. OH WHY THANK YOU, YOU CONDESCENDING PIECE OF SHIT. never mind that we’ve never been illegal immigrants and have valid passports. he should’ve been worried my mother didn’t call the cops on his racist ass for repeated harassment.
my parents are working class and i’m fucking proud of it. during high school and some of college, i used to be slightly ashamed and embarrassed that they worked customer service type jobs. i’d compare them to my friends’ parents with business jobs or colleagues in the art world and feel self conscious. especially when i first moved to LA where wealth is worshipped and rich kids run amuck. however, now i realize and appreciate how much my parents have accomplished. in china, my dad was an english teacher and my mom worked as chemist. they sacrificed their jobs, lifestyles, and family (everyone else besides my immediate family is in china) to move to a completely foreign country in pursuit of a better future. i’m forever grateful for that bravery and it inspires me to fight harder.
anyway, what i’m getting at is– i know it’s pointless trying to talk sense to people that are capable of gross mistreatment towards others but it’s difficult to see my mother put up with this on a daily basis. she works hard enough and she just wants to retire. dealing with mistreatment regularly can really break your spirit and i admire my mother’s strength to persevere through injustices like this without developing a victim mentality or becoming an ugly natured human being in return.
what are we supposed to do though? accept that some people are just going to be crazy and awful beyond reasoning so we just let the insults fly? we don’t seek these confrontations, we’re placed in them. back in high school, i remember just crossing the sidewalk when someone in a passing car shouted, “hey gook! go home!” wtf, that’s not even the right ethnic slur and this was in northern california for fuck’s sake– we’re not even in the south.
i believe in standing up against mistreatment but there’s too much crazy in the world to fight against. we can’t fight every battle but letting the abuse occur without calling it out seems wrong. no matter which reaction you choose, you’re left exhausted.
so this is what i ask of you– strive to be a kind human being. be as considerate as you can to others because you don’t know the pains and obstacles they’ve encountered in the past or even presently. i know nobody is perfect, but please ask yourself if your actions could cause suffering before opening your mouth or doing something questionable. this doesn’t just go for racial prejudice but for any interaction. be nice to the person making your drink even if they mess up– you never know what kind of day they had. their friend could’ve just passed away. practice tolerance and kindness.
all in all though, you’ll always have friends and family that remind you everything will be ok in the end. on that note, here’s a photo of me giving my mom a kiss and telling her, “yo mom, haterz gawn hate.”