The Other Side of Lost in Translation


Chinese Food Delivery Man

Since I used to cover pop music for Japanese media,
I had visited many record companies in Midtown.
Sony, BMG, EMI, Universal, you name it.
And each time I talked to the receptionists,
they thought that I was from some Chinese restaurant
to deliver the food.
Even they did not say it,
I could tell by the way they looked at me.

So I asked some other Japanese collegues
and they said they had similar experiences.

Whenever those receptionists see Asian guys
in casual attire like jeans and T-shirt,
they think they must be from Chinese restaurants
or messengers.

The vast majority of record companies' employees were White
and I found Blacks only in a Black music department.
Asians?, they were the extreamly rare spieces there.

At one time, I had to wait at the receptionist area
for about one hour, and Asians I saw there were
three guys from Chinese restaurants.
Therefore I cannot say it was completely a prejudice.

And eventually, I had become to realize that
the majority of people everywhere,
they think I AM a Chinese food delivery person.

In New York city, there are many many
Chinese fast food restaurants.
Most of them have a small storefront
with simple decorations
and a kitchen right behind that.
Some of them look Okay, some of them look kinda shabby.
You order something from their menu
and they cook it within a few minutes.
Most of their workers speak minimum English.
And they deliver, yes they do.

For the most of non-Asian New Yorkers,
Chinese fast food restaurant workers are the Asians
that the most frequently they have a contact with.
Therefore they naturally have become Asians' stereo type
along with Korean grocery store workers
and Chinese laundromat workers.

If I walk down the street with jeans and T-shirt,
most of people that I pass by think
I am supposed to be from
some underdeveloped country of Far East,
and came to U.S. as a poor immigrant or a refugee.
No education, no cultural sofistication
that I am supposed to have.
I am supposed to work at a Chinese restaurant
or deliver Chinese food.

I am taller that average Americans, 6 feet.
I graduated from the very good college in Japan.
I have been professionally writing for a long time.
I think my taste for music, films and books is
more sofisticated than average Americans.
But they do not matter.
Because, for them, I am suppose to be
a cheap Asian food restaurant worker.

This has created a huge identity crisis in me.
And this is the reality that I am living in.

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