I dug up some journal entries from my trip abroad. Here is one of them.
Dateline: Amsterdam. Even among the pastoral tulip fields and gently twirling windmills, it was impossible to escape the sting of my ethnicity.
I spent some time traveling with a friend to a few cities and here was the conversation I overheard while
waiting on line for dutch pancakes.
Friend: Pardon. Zit hier iemand?
Local: No, the seat’s free.
Friend: Oh, you speak English.
Local: Yeah. Where are you from?
Friend: The states. Los Angeles.
Local: Oh, I hear it’s dangerous there.
Friend: Can be.
Local: Because of the blacks?*
A moment later, I sat down in front of my friend and my new Dutch buddy with a plate of piping hot pannenkoeken. Now, had I not been a practiced Oreo, I would have wanted to pour those piping hot pannenkoeken down the front of my new buddy’s shirt. But, being the Oreo that I am, I supported his point.
Me: Well, you just have to pay attention to where you are. If you come visit, you’ll see. That’s why I moved to Hancock Park.
I could have made him feel suuuper uncomfortable. But instead, I fostered international relations with the right conversation and my appreciation of perfectly pressed pancakes.
*It’s been suggested that I’m making up some of these stories. But no. Really. I’m not.
For other uncomfortable moments I didn’t make up. Check out these posts on phone etiquette, getting out of a parking ticket and talking to kids.