SBS 301 Cultural Diversity/Prof. Koptiuch         Fall 2007        Personal Memory Ethnographies

Stephanie Sumida

You Mean North Korea?

    It was a beautiful sunny Saturday in Downtown Phoenix, the birds were chirping and the traffic was light.  At the corner of McDowell and 7th street, the strong aroma of spaghetti, bread, and sauces pulled Mr. and Mrs. Smith into the Spaghetti Hut.

    Upon entering the restaurant, the smell of the kitchen made their stomachs ache with hunger. There wasn’t much of a wait, five or ten minutes; so they took in the scenery. They eyed out the arcade, admired the old velvet couches, and were impressed with a sleigh right in the middle of the waiting room. Five minutes had barely passed and they were taken to their table. They first walked by a showcase of spaghetti, and then wobbled down a set of stairs with their canes, finally reaching their table near the entrance of the restaurant. Their table is facing a life size trolley built into the restaurant, antiques decorating the interior of the restaurant, and an old chandelier dangles above their table meant for four. By now Mr. and Mrs. Smith's mouths are watering with hunger.

    Along comes Shelly, the water girl. Shelly offers them water and asked if they would like to have an appetizer. They refuse, stating that they had been there a thousand times and already knew what they wanted. Shelly, gave a ditsy “ok”, and told them that Stephanie would be with them shortly.

    With minutes Stephanie arrives at the table, already informed that the elderly couple is ready to order. Stephanie observes an older couple; the gentleman is wearing an old military hat, slacks, and a t-shirt. His wife is wearing a green dress and a white jacket, the restaurant seems a little cold for her. Mr. and Mrs. Smith realize Stephanie has never served them before in the thirty years they have eaten here. Mrs Smith is a little worried, last time an Asian served them, Mr. Smith made the poor girl cry. Mrs. Smith reminds herself that her husband is a noble man who served his country, and if it wasn’t for the war (WWII) he wouldn’t be like that or as bad. He was one of the first soldiers sent overseas to Hiroshima, after he got back he never was completely the same. He’s been forgetting things lately, and his eyesight is getting worse; hopefully he will forget to say something or not be able to see her. Oh wait, he asking for his glasses, shucks!

    Stephanie takes their order, two senior meat sauces, two ranch salads, and two iced teas. The Smiths were almost done with their meal, it was time for dessert and that’s when it happened. 

    Outraged, stomps Stephanie to her boss in the back zone of the restaurant. “You know what that man just called me? A JAP! I know he is old BUT come on it's not 1950 anymore, do you know how derogatory that is? Just because I'm from Hawaii and Japanese doesn't mean I had anything to do with it, I wasn't even born yet!"

Kenny the manager replies “Well what happened?”

    “I gave him and his wife their spumoni ice cream, and then he asks me if I am a Jap? I tell him I am Japanese. Then he starts telling me that my cousins in China are making bombs to hurt everyone. I told him I know nothing of the kind, and that I have no Chinese cousins. Not to mention that I am American and have never been to Japan or China. Then I walked away and here I am now, what are you going to do about it Kenny!”

“Just get some water I will take care of it, give me his check I will close him out for you.”


    Minutes later Stephanie goes back out to her section to check on her other tables; the elderly couple is still there. She wishes them a nice afternoon and thanks them for their tip. Mrs. Smith looks slightly embarrassed by her husband’s comments as she can read the fakeness coming for Stephanie’s face and tone of voice.

    Last night, Mrs. Smith had watched the news with her husband. North Korea was building bombs, not China. 

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