So this happened to me last week and I’m still a bit miffed by this thing that happened to me last week. I was at work, when a customer came up to me and said “magandang hapon” which for those of you who don’t speak Tagalog means Good Morning in English. Like many of you, I had no clue what was being said because I’m not Filipino. The only reason I know how to say good morning in Tagalog is thanks to Google Translate, so basically I don’t know how to say it. Now normally I would just brush it off to ignorance after I looked at him with confusion, he proceeded to follow up with “oh what are you?” Or something to that effect. I responded with I’m Chinese, and I don’t speak Tagalog. He then blurted out some form of “ni hao” which caused me to be somewhat offended. I’m not sure if it was the manner in which this whole exchange happened or whether it was due to the fact that he just assumed my ethnicity. It just confuses me as to why people think it’s okay to assume someone’s race or ethnicity, then blurt out the only phrase you know in their language as if to say “Hey I can speak your language so connect with me on that level”. Now don’t get me wrong here, I do understand the desire to share what you know of another language with native speakers of that language. However I’ve never, despite wanting to greet Hispanic customers, blurted out anything like “buenos dias” or “que quieres” because I understand that I have nothing to follow it up with other than “sorry that’s all I know because I learned some Spanish years ago but have since forgotten most of it and haven’t kept it up enough to carry a conversation”.
I think the reason this irks me so much is because you’d never see anyone of any other ethnicity just shout random English phrases to Caucasians and be like sorry I don’t know anything else. Or maybe you would and I’m just overly sensitive about the subject matter. Is it just me being racially over sensitive or is this something that we as a society should stop doing?