This morning I was waiting in line at the post office because I had a parcel to send off (yes, I just typed parcel — how often do you get to use that word in everyday discourse?) and overheard a man’s conversation with the postal worker as he was paying for items he was mailing.
Man: My son here thinks that by the sound of your accent, you are Filipino.
Postal worker: Mmm, I see.
Man: We spent some time in Singapore so we know that variety of accent.
(Postal worker continues to punch in numbers in the key pad and just smiles.)
Man: So, are we right? Are you from the Philippines?
Postal worker: Yes, sir.
This little exchange bothered me. Maybe it was because it was a white guy asking a non-white person what his ethnicity was. Maybe it was just the way he went about asking the question. Maybe it was because he was implying that the Philippines could be the same as Singapore. Maybe it was because it was still early in the morning on a Saturday and I hadn’t eaten any food yet.