My Fucking People

On Saturday, noontime, my brown friends and I took a train up to NYC to check out Central Park Summerstage, with Manu Chao performing. On the Amtrak train, we found some seats at the end of a car, right next to the door. At the South Amboy stop, some more passengers came on the train; a middle-aged white man with scruffy clothes and a cane took the seat across the aisle from me. My friend would later point out he was wearing a hat that said “Vietnam Vet”. The train resumed. My friends and I continued to talk and joke around to pass time. Occasionally, I would notice on my peripheral that the guy was eyeing me. I didn’t make much out of it; it hardly registered. When the train got to Perth Amboy, the guy got up and headed for the exit. Right before he left, he turned, faced me, and yelled, “Your fucking people killed us, and now you fucking dare come to this country?”.

He left the train. After half an hour, the train pulled into Penn Station, NYC. We went to the concert, walked around the city, and had dinner with Deb at Sammy’s Asian Gourmet. We got back to Matawan at about 10:30 pm.

So how did I react? How did I feel? The most I could manage at the time was a restrained grin. The sort of broad grin that I put on to humor someone when they start talking about things I do not have opinions about or have yet to form opinions about. Or maybe it was the kind of grin you flash to show people that you are not being affected. Either way, I grinned.

Was I too American for him, with my clothes and annoyingly long hair? Were my jokes and manner of speech too Red, too White and too Blue? Why’d he lash out at me? Our train car certainly had its share of Asian people. An old couple reading Chinese newspapers: two seats down. A FOBish man with pants too high up: three seats down, one to the right. Another American Born Chinese: one seat down, two to the right. Maybe I was just the closest to the door. That coward.

After the guy left, for the next half hour, I would sit there, replaying the situation in my head. What would be the proper retort?

  • “You know what? I’m not Vietnamese; I’m Chinese, you idiot. I am damn sorry it is hard for you to tell the difference, but I’m damn glad it’s easy to tell the diffrence between a human being and a fucking ignorant piece of shit.”
  • “First off, I’m not Vietnamese OR Korean. Don’t you dare say, ‘What’s the difference?‘. There is a fucking difference. I don’t go walking around, blaming you for selling opium to Chinese people just cuz you LOOK British.

    OR

  • ziipp fuck you.ziipp.

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