Zero Tolerance

The following is a weekly “journal entry” for my COMM 486U Business Communications class. I wrote this a week ago, and the task was to “write a very succinct and compelling story about an intercultural experience”, with the introduction following a certain format. I thought it’d make for an interesting story to share with others as well.

I am a 20 year old Chinese-Canadian female, and I would like to tell you about an embarrassing intercultural incident that happened to me in London over this past summer. I was visiting England for my annual August family vacation, and on that particular day, we went to go see the famous Natural History Museum.

While I was browsing an exhibit on the third floor, and my family and I had somewhat scattered about in the museum, I noticed a guy peering at the same display that I was looking at. He was Caucasian, had a tall build, and looked to be around my age. I glanced over at him in passing, and he smiled at me.

“Great exhibit, huh?” he said, with a heavy British accent.

“Yeah, it’s spectacular!” I replied.

“So where are you from?” he asked.

“Vancouver, Canada. And I assume you’re a local?” I countered.

“I live about an hour away in Romford, but yes, I’m definitely a local.”

And the banter continued on for quite some time. He seemed charming, funny, and genuine, and I enjoyed talking to him. Soon after, I glanced at my watch and realized that I needed to go meet my family in the museum’s cafeteria for lunch. So I said, “It’s been really nice talking to you, but I think I have to head off soon.”

“Aw, that’s a shame,” he said. “Well, before you go, I just wanted to tell you that you’re very pretty for an Asian.”

“Wait. What?” I was shocked. Did he really just say that?

He looked at me, puzzled. “Is something wrong? I just said you were pretty.”

“For an Asian?” I said. “Are you insinuating that Asians are uglier than other races?”

“No, I didn’t mean to offend you, it’s just that-“ he breaks off.

“It’s just what?”

“I usually don’t think Asians are attractive.” He doesn’t look me in the eye.

“Goodbye.” I had nothing more to say. I turned on my heel and walked away.


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