The Cost of Public Outings

Today is Free Slurpee Day at 7-11. I like free things, I like Slurpees, therefore my sister (who has the same sentiments) and I went to the nearest 7-11: small, far from spotless, and located on a large boulevard calm on a Saturday night. The few people that were in there before us trickled out and we were left sampling the new Liquid Artillery flavor in peace. Mixing the strawberry-pineapple-lime deliciousness with Blue Raspberry and Wild Cherry creates a scrumptious blend with a tang, a bite, a kick, and brain freeze.

As we left with our free Slurpees, the man behind the counter suddenly called out, “Xie xie.” We looked back – he was smiling slightly and nervously – and grinned. In retrospect, it might have just been an awkward look on my part.

The poor guy. He was just trying to be nice. Be friendly. Show his culturedness. Cross racial barriers. But these unexpected assumptions make something inside me flare up. I’m not sure if it is anger, embarrassment, or what. Part of me wants to tell him off or good-naturedly explain or laugh it off. Whatever it is quickly dies down and I realize that’s the world we live in and that indeterminable emotion is uncalled for. He was just trying to be nice. Be friendly. And to his credit, this man had the courage to shout out another language when I myself am shy about speaking Mandarin. Plus, he works in a store in the unofficial “Chinatown” of St. Louis.

In the parking lot, we laughed and decided that the guy had probably waited for us to leave in order to say that. Good thing we made his day. As we started the car, we saw a family walking in. Oh look, we said, he’ll get another opportunity to speak Chinese. They walked under the neon lighting and we noticed they looked more Hispanic.

Whoops — assumptions.

Jessica misses the convenience of Taiwanese convenience stores, their musical twang when the door opens, the bounty of deliciousness.

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