Suzy Wong buys shoes at local shoe boutique

I had an irritating racialized moment yesterday. Mr. HM and I were at a shoe store. Normally I don’t go in boutique/specialty shoe shops, being more of a discount/DSW type of shoe buyer, but Mr. HM wanted to look at this place. On the 70% discount rack I found a pair of sandals at a great price and, of all things, in my size (5 1/2) – that combination is a rare sight.

The salesperson who rings up my purchase is an older gentleman, white, Al Bundy-esque. He wants to know my name.

Bundy: And your name is . . ?

Me: Why do you need to know that information? I don’t want to be on a mailing list.

Bundy: Oh! Well, in case you need to return the shoes.

Me: Why does that matter? I’ll have a receipt.

Bundy: Well. . . can I just write in a fake name then?

Me, getting irritated: I don’t care.

Bundy: Okay, how about if I put in Wong, Suzy.

Me, visibly pissed off: NO.

Bundy, flustered: Uh, oh, um, okay how about if I put your name as Mary then.

Me: NO.

Bundy, backpedaling furiously: Okay,  ma’am, I’ll just put down that you paid in cash, and we SURE ARE pleased to have your business and I SURE HOPE you have a GREAT day.

(Meanwhile, Mr. HM is pacing behind me, worried I’m going to go off on this guy. To his suggestion that he enter my name as Suzy Wong, I SHOULD have responded, "Do I look like a Chinese prostitute to you?" I was thinking it but suffer from an ailment called, "IgnoreRacism-itis," learned over years of being told by my color-blind adoptive parents that racism is all in my own mind).

Author: JaeRan

Assistant professor at UW Tacoma, writer, and researcher.

9 thoughts

  1. There is a teacher in the school where I teach who routinely calls me Mrs. Swan (from Mad TV) to the students.
    Additionally, my adoptive mother still refuses to acknowledge that being Korean makes me a minority…color-blindness, or total, flat-out denial?

  2. I wish I could say I’m stunned, but sadly, I’m not.
    Not too long ago I read something online in which a TRAP jokingly referred to his/her child, an Indian adoptee, as “Mowgli.”

  3. These sorts of encounters never fail to surprise me and I guess that is a good thing. I expect better from people.
    The one racial hit I notice the most here in Northern California, where the areas I live in are sometimes majority Asian is the use of the word “oriental” to describe human beings.
    Had that about half a doze times in the last few months. Yes I let all of them know they were doing something offensive.
    One thing though, was the ironic use of the name “Bundy” on purpose?

Share your thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s