Monday, February 24, 2014

Really, this is just awkward for both of us

It was just before we sat down for supper tonight that there was a knock at the door.

I can say it was before we sat down because we almost always sit down to eat.  Mostly it is on the couch while we watch TV, but it counts.

And before there was a knock at the door, there was a car that pulled up in front of the house and two earnest young men walking up the driveway.

I was sitting on the couch (I don't need to have supper to sit on the couch, they are not mutually dependent events) with RG on my lap.  We were playing a game where I was making funny faces and noises and she would make noises and faces that I would try to interpret as "That's funny!" or "Why can't you be awesome like Mommy?" or "Why haven't you changed me/fed me in the last twenty minutes?" or some combination thereof.

I saw the earnest young men walking up the driveway and my first thought was "Ugh, now I have to stand up."  Standing up would involve interrupting the game, and I think I was winning.  Or at least I wasn't losing any worse than usual.  Anyway, I called out to My Lovely Wife (who was preparing supper) "We have visitors that I don't know who they are!"  I considered letting her answer the door while I stayed put with RG, but then I had a thought.

I have the perfect "I can't talk right now" excuse in my arms!  She's the ultimate trump card, at least at this age.  So I pulled myself off the couch and, baby snuggled into an appropriately jumbled mess of a blanket, I answered the door.

Earnest young man one, who I will call Ernest, looked at me in a sort of mild kind of surprise.

"Hello," I said.

"Hi.  We're youth volunteers... and we're looking for, uh, Korean people that we might be able to talk with."  Said Ernest.  His fellow volunteer, who I shall also call Ernest, stood behind him and silently supported Ernest by not saying anything at all.

"Okay,"  I said.

Ernest looked at me and at my baby and said "Um, we're looking to talk with them in their own language."

"I'm not Korean," I said.

"Well," Ernest said, looking back at his friend Ernest, who I now realize you may have gotten them mixed up on account of their names being the same, but I can't go and change their names now. Besides the fact that I have already committed to the joke, I can't remember distinguishing feature of either of them other than there was an Ernest at the door and an Ernest behind him, and calling them Front Ernest and Back Ernest seems odd.  But I digress.

"Well," Ernest said, looking back at his friend Ernest and then back at me when salvation utterly failed to appear.  "Obviously no."

I started to reply but my brain caught on "Obviously no."  I mean, come on, I could be Korean.  Not all Koreans look alike.  I don't think anyway.  I don't know that many Koreans.  Or maybe I do, and none of them have told me they're Korean.

I was pulled out of this train of thought when Ernest asked me:  "Are there any...Koreans...here?"

"No, I'm sorry."

Ernest and Ernest looked at each other again.

I had a thought.  If they had just looked in a phone book, they would have seen my last name and assumed we were Korean, as Cho is also a Korean name.  So I offered up an escape for them and said "You've got the right name, but the wrong house."

Ernest looked at Ernest again and said "Yes, sometimes people direct us to homes that they think there might..."  He sort of trailed off as I assumed his brain started to catch up with what he was saying and tell him that there wasn't really a good way of ending the sentence in a way that wasn't going to come across more racist than it had started out.

"Yes, I'm sure.  Sorry guys."  I said.

Ernest realized he was holding a pamphlet at this point and I could see him thinking about giving it to me anyway before putting it back in his coat pocket.  "Sorry to bother you," they said as they walked back to their car.

I felt bad for them.  I mean, here they are, tasked with going out and gathering as many Koreans together as they can, and no good way of doing it.  I guess they could have tried one of the many Chinese restaurants in town.  It's basically the same thing, right?

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