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?

  4. You think maybe the world’s changed a little bit, and then someone calls you a Chinese prostitute.

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