Being a Korean adopted by Caucasian parents has always been one of those great conversation starters. People always seem to have this curiosity, like I am some exotic person from this mythical place or maybe creepy men just use my Asianess to use some really crappy pick up lines. Or in some cases, I think people are just outright confused on how this Asian person has this heavy Midwestern accent and why mom and dad look about as apple-pie American as June and Ward Cleaver and daughter looks more like Psy. Sometimes, even I forget that I am this Iowa-accented Korean with a white family and just think of me as me, which I think, as Martha Stewart would say, is a very good thing.
But, like most things, someone always has to come and not-so-subtly remind me that I am not this unassuming American Seoul who is just minding my own business (and avoiding all pervy references to Full Metal Jacket). So today, at my real job (the one that pays the bills), the UPS guy who I had met the day before comes in looking for me. This dude actually interrupts a meeting one of my co-workers is having and asks him if he has seen the tall, skinny, Oriental girl at the front. Lots of things wrong with this narrative. For starters, Oriental is about as outdated as Doc Martins. Secondly, I am nowhere near tall, not even in a pair of good stilettos. And I am glad he at least thinks I am skinny. Then Mr. UPS proceeds to ask my co-worker, “I think her name is Chang, it’s Chang, right?” Um, last time I checked Stefanie and Chang don’t sound anything alike. And Chang would be Chinese and according to my birth certificate, I would be Korean. Talk about probably having a bad case of yellow fever or some weird Miss Saigon fetish. I mean, Chang is really the best he could come up with?
Lucky for him, I am pretty good humored and not easily offended so instead of wanting to go all Jet Li on him, I just laughed off the situation. But it is a reminder that there are people out there who lump all Asian people in one category. But that is a conversation for another day. In the meantime, maybe Mr. UPS will figure out that my name sounds more Valley Girl and not something synonymous to a certain popular Chinese chain restaurant.