This past weekend, my husband and I were at our local driver’s license office. He got to experience the joy of renewing his license. The DMV is not the most exciting place to be at 8:30 on a Saturday morning!
We had to wait in a group of about 10 people (mostly Caucasian people). So the lady who was working there, was of Chinese descent (and spoke with an accent). She started calling a list of names in order. First she called John, and blankly looked up and scanned the group, waiting for John to acknowledge. Next she called, Tim. Again, she looked up with a questioning gaze… until Tim stepped forward to announce his presence.
My husband’s name was next. Let’s just say that he has a very typical Indian name, and not one that you would commonly hear in America.
So she called my husband’s name and before he had a chance to even flinch, she turned and said, Oh this must be you! We were both a little shocked that she had just made that assumption based on physical appearance. I suppose she felt it was impossible that any of the other guys could have possibly had that name! We weren’t exactly offended by her assumption, just a little surprised.
I do have to give her credit for pronouncing his name fairly accurately – we’re used to his name being butchered beyond recognition! That’s why we’ve decided our kids will have names which can be pronounced by Westerners as well as Indians. I would hate to have my kids go through life always having to correct the teacher after roll-call!
Sometimes it is nice to be singled out, while other times you’d rather just blend into the crowd! I’ve experienced the same thing in India. Although I’d say in India I get more attention in public for being white than my husband does in America for being brown. Either way, we’ve decided just to do our best to blend in and take everything in stride!