Blog Post

Do you want me to translate that for you?

On Tuesday, October 22, 2019, at about 5 p.m., I was at Peepo’s Subs & Shawarma at 10890 Beech Daly Rd, Taylor, MI 48180. I asked for chicken shawarma and rice. The employee told me that the only way that I could order that is if I ordered ‘Peepo’s Plate, a.k.a Peepo’s Bowl, which their menu describes as ‘Turmeric Rice topped with your choice of Africano Meat, Tomatoes, Lettuce & drizzled with our Homemade Ranch.’

So, I ordered the ‘Peepo’s Plate’ and asked for it with chicken shawarma instead of Africano Meat, tomatoes, no ranch, and add pickles and Fattoush dressing. When the meal came to the table, it had grilled onions, mushrooms, peppers, & cheese on the bowl. My friend Matt took the food up to the counter and explained that I could not eat it because I am allergic to the unexpected ingredients. The employee told him that the grilled onions, mushrooms, peppers, & cheese came with the bowl, and she could do nothing about it.

Since Matt and I were in a hurry to get to the airport, I decided not to argue with the employee and call this meal a loss. However, as we were walking out the door, the manager came up behind me, nearly startling me. He proceeded to ask me what the problem was in a very confrontational manner.

I explained the situation to the manager and even pointed to the description of Peepo’s Bowl on the menu to show him what I thought I had ordered. He explained to me that Peepo’s Bowl comes with Africano Meat and that I got what I ordered, and so there was nothing he could do about it. He continued by saying that if I didn’t understand what he was saying that he would translate it for me.

The fact is that we were both talking in English, and the menu was also in English. It was clear to me that the manager maliciously made this comment to indicate that I don’t understand English because I am Asian. I was immediately infuriated and grabbed my Diet Pepsi off the table and ran out the door.

This is 2019. Every time I think that we have moved past such intolerant behavior in our society, a reminder like this comes along that we are not even close to doing so.

For those of you who think that this comment was not malicious or intolerant, I appreciate your right to freedom of thought. However, whatever you say to try to convince me otherwise will only serve as a reminder of this incident. I now believe my safety in America is at risk daily. The words said to me this day made me feel unwelcome in America; the country I was once proud to call home.

By Jon Oaks

College Math Instructor. Tech Enthusiast. Visionary. Creative Genius. But above all, I enjoy what I do. That is why I am a teacher. Because I like to teach.

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