A Perk of Being Asian

Photo by Nubby Tongue via Creative Commons

Technically, it was my Vietnamese card that I pulled out this past Friday. On my husband’s suggestion that I get the pedicure I keep putting off, I visited a new-to-me nail salon. I primarily chose it because there’s a Starbucks right next door. (Have you tried their new orange spiced iced coffee? YUM!). The place was packed for an early Friday afternoon. Then again, I’m a poor judge of this since I get a professional pedicure like once a year or something.

I asked how long the wait was, since there were about 5 or 6 women sitting in the waiting area. As one nail technician replied “Fifteen minutes,” I heard the another technician speak Vietnamese. A-ha! That’s when I pulled out my secret weapon.

In Vietnamese, I asked, “Is it ok if I go and come back later?”

I love this part.

Every technician within earshot heard me had a look of surprise. “Oh, it won’t be that long,” replied another woman in Vietnamese. After watching her interact with other customers, I think she was either the manager or the owner of the salon.

So there. I used my Vietnamese card to get ahead in line. I don’t feel guilty or bad about it at all. I wasn’t planning on using it because the technicians push hard to upsell me on extra services. There’s only so many polite ways to say, “No thank you” in Vietnamese.

I even posted my confession on Facebook.

The thing is that many Vietnamese folks who don’t know me personally don’t think I look Vietnamese. I’m more likely to be mistaken for Chinese or Filipino. I have no idea why. When I’m by myself and interact with other Vietnamese people in our native tongue, I get better treatment than those who are not Vietnamese. When I’m with my kids, I get suspicious looks. When it’s the entire family, meaning my black husband is standing next to me, I’m generally looked down upon or at least they whisper about me when they think I don’t understand them.

So I think it’s fair that I used my Vietnamese-ness for little things like skipping the pedicure wait line.

Have you ever used a personal feature to get ahead in line or to get better treatment?

Pardon typos and grammatical errors. My allergies are not being kind to me right now.

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