The Night I (Almost) Lost Faith in the Chinese

I find it truly amazing that, in this politically correct age, people still toss around stereotypes.  I’m not talking about the time-honored, blatantly offensive stereotypes that you’re thinking of.  Rather, it’s those so-called “positive” stereotypes that people seem to be so fond of these days.

You know the type of comment I mean; the ones that are generally complimentary, but at the same time require you to make a broad generalization about the group of people you’re supposed to be complimenting.  These “positive” stereotypes are often sound something like this:

  • “Russian people really can hold their vodka.”
  • “Jews are good with money.”
  • “Gay people are so interesting!”

And so on.  Most people make statements like this almost without thinking.  They simply don’t see why it’s so bad, but it is.  Is it as bad as using slurs and negative stereotypes?  Of course not.  But it’s still bad.

Having said all that, let me tell you why I like Chinese people.

Specifically, I like the Chinese people that work at the Chinese take-out restaurants.  No particular restaurant, mind you; I’m talking about pretty much every one I’ve ever purchased a meal from.  You see, without exception, I’ve had very positive experiences with these folks.  They’re generally quite friendly and accommodating, and they seem eager to please the customer.

For example, I always joke about how you don’t actually need a menu for a Chinese restaurant.  In my experience, you can pretty much just call any take-out joint, order a dish you like, and they’ll bring it.  This usually works since the menu is largely the same from place to place.  However, on at least one occasion, I’ve had them deliver food that I later discovered was not even on the menu.  (E.g., I ordered shrimp egg foo young, but they only list pork, chicken, and vegetable.)  Now that’s customer service.

Furthermore, the delivery service is always fast and reliable.  This is no small achievement, given the competition’s track record.  Without fail, if I order from a place like Pizza Hut or Cluck-U, it takes 45 minutes or more.  Half the time, the food is cold.  But not the Chinese!  They manage to get me the food in under 20 minutes on most occasions, and the food is usually so hot I can’t even eat it right away.

For a while, in my bachelor days, there was a place I ordered from so frequently that I got to be sort of friendly with the delivery guy.  I say “sort of” because he didn’t speak much English, so I’m not really sure if he shared my fondness for our brief visits.  But he smiled at me a lot.  Sometimes he would bring me a can of soda, even if I didn’t order one.  It’s possible that this was because I had somehow earned a free drink with my purchase, but I prefer to think the guy just liked me.

So, I like the Chinese.  Sue me.

Then something terrible happened.

Just the other night, I ordered some Chinese food.  Twenty minutes later, I was astounded to find that my food had not yet arrived.  Inconceivable!  Thirty minutes came and went.  Then forty.  At forty-five minutes, I was sure that something had to be wrong.  Finally, at the forty-five minute mark, the delivery guy’s car finally pulled up to the curb.  As I watched the man approach my door, I began to doubt everything I had believed about my faithful Chinese friends.  With great sadness, I began trying to calculate an appropriate tip.

But then, as the man reached my door, I found myself looking at a thirty-something white guy.  Fucking white guy?!  It all began to make sense!  My Chinese friends hadn’t let me down after all.  Whew!  For a second there, I was really afraid that I might have to alter my world view.

So, all is well.  My General Tso’s Chicken combo was still hot, too.  Yum.

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