“Where are you from?”
“The US,” I answer. Upon seeing a blank look, I dumb it down…”America.”
“Oh. Really? Where in America? I’m from Miami.”
Oh. He’s one of them! I guess. What I mean when I guess this is, he is one of the Chinese people who has lived in the US or has even gained citizenship, but then comes back to China and tells every foreigner who he/she meets that they are from xx city in the States. Most recently, I had someone tell me they were from New York, and when I asked where in New York, he lost all ability to speak English. He apparently had citizenship, but my guess is he rarely ventured outside of Chinatown.
“Are you from New York?” he goes on.
“I knew it,” he says. Then he quickly corrects himself, “Are you really from America? I don’t believe you.”
“I can show you my ID if you really want,” I laugh.
“Show it to me,” he says, dead seriously.
He takes the ID, looks at it carefully, and says, “Hmmm…”
In order to take the attention from his judgment of my Americanness, I attempt to tell him I have never been to Miami but am dying to go. Before I can say that I would really like to go, he cuts me off, “You have never been to Miami? You are not American. You are not American. You are Chinese.”
Being told I’m Chinese by a Chinese person was new! Usually people guess that I’m Latino, Italian, Spanish, Middle Eastern or something fun like that. But Chinese…that was a new one. Obviously, he wasn’t serious, but the look on his face would beg the differ.
Upon digging deeper, I discovered that he was from Beijing, and I agreed to get in touch with him if I ever visited again. I made sure to not ask for his contact details, and he being drunk, seemed to forget that exchanging phone numbers is crucial to future contact.
Moral of the story: I am apparently less American than some of my customers who have spent a summer in Miami. And, one day, I may become American….but not until I visit Miami.