Monday, August 24, 2009

Hand shakes with westerners

I have been staying out in Indiana’s Bloomington for a few days. I
just became a grandpa to a really cute little boy from my daughter.

It is clear that this area is different from New York City. Indiana
is very white. Between Indianapolis and Bloomington, there is a
Martinsville which is a Klu Klux Klan stronghold.

The people are not as sophisticated as those from the East or West
coast. Their accent is obscure. In fact the Mid Western people are
quite obscure to the Chinese, and vice versa Since my kids are there
and we have been visiting them for many years, some of my experiences
were not so pleasant.

Some guy refused to serve my car and I rounded
up driving with only three cylinders running. One time the waiters at
the Denny’s Diner refused to serve us without us showing them our

And one time, my wife was searched at the airport and the
TSA said, “We have to be careful because of people like you.”, etc.
That time I raised hell at the airport and scared the hell out of my
wife. The TSA could have just done their job (searching my wife)
without making these remarks. Why they had to say something like
that? But each time, someone (who’s also white), calmed me down and I
rounded up shaking hands with the idiots. Who has the time to tangle
with these nonsenses? I don’t.

I began to learn about these people. Today I walked by a fire trucks
with four firemen asking for donations. I looked at the sign and it
was for Muscular Dystrophy. They looked at me and didn’t know what to
say to a gray hair Chinaman. Not sure if I understand English. They
just smiled and said, “Howdy!”. I said to them, “So this is for
muscular dystrophy? A good cause!” and I pronounced the medical term
perfectly. Then I dropped $5 in the can. It was early in the
morning, they have just started the day and here I was. It must be my
American accent and low key mannerism made them delighted. They

One guy said, “That’s right, you got it perfectly right. You
know your stuff buddy! Thank you buddy!”. Then I started talking to
them about Jerry Lewis’ kids (The late comedian used to have this
annual drive) and then the Indiana Colts. After all, I am a football
fan. I even helped them soliciting donations as more people passed
by. Later, I was rewarded a large pop (or soda) and a lot of

Prejudice and ignorance go hand in hand. I began to understand their
mentality. They stare at you because they don’t see that many of you
around. But if you talk and manner their way, they will love you.
The truth is, these are very polite, kind and easy going people. They
always greet you with a smile and say “hello”, “how are you” and
“thank you”. And they are always ready to assist you if you ask. So
many are very generous to my children especially in the school. And
once they get to know you, there is no more barrier. So I think it
all comes down to knowing each other. Knowing people is always the
key to any relationship. It is only human to stare. It is also only
human to shake hands, even with Mid Westerners.

Just a day’s experience of my life.

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