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The School Field Trip: Adventure of the Racist Cab Ride
Friday. 1.19.07 3:44 pm
Way back in the old days, back when ManOfDarkSunglasses was still BoyOfDarkSunglasses, he used to attend Hebrew school about once a week. It was your typical not-for-profit organization type of thing... and like all not-for-profit organizations, they engaged in the occasional fundraiser. Be it a charity dinner for the parents to drag their kids to, or a raffel for tickets to Yankee games that always seemed to fall on the most inconvenient of days, or perhaps a field trip that just never seemed to turn out as fun as the mass-mailed flyers made it sound.

This time it was bowling: A short trip to a nearby bowling alley for the students and alumni of the Hebrew school. It was an appealing idea, and when the day finally came for us all to meet at the school in preperation, we were surprised to discover that the van provided for us wasn't big enough to fit everybody. And so, a taxi service was called, and a few of the students were selected to ride to the bowling alley under the watchful supervising eye of an older alumnist.

The driver was friendly enough. Him and the alumni (who I remember being around the age of a high-school senior, although I may have overestimated his age due to my own youth) made some of the usual dull small talk, while I zoned out and watched the traffic. Things were boring... but not for long. For all of a sudden, out of the dull and mindless haze of their prefunctory chit-chat, arose disaster.

"What the hell is wrong with that woman? Isn't she watching the road? Its those gaddamn Japs I tell ya, they just can't drive at all. See, look. She's Asian."

And thus it began. Apparently, this had struck a nerve with our driver, for he spent the next ten minutes or so discussing the poor driving abilities of Japanese people. Actually, it wasn't really much of a discussion... more like a lecture. Or, for the alumnist (who was responsible for taking care of us until we reached the bowling alley) it was more like a ten-minute-long attempt to change the subject. For the three of us kids, on the other hand... well, we didn't really know what to make of it. We had grown up on such multiculturalist PBS shows as "Arthur" and "The Magic Schoolbus". Asians were innately poor at driving? Barney never mentioned that when he was teaching us safety tips for crossing the street. This just didn't make sense...

As if reading our minds, it seemed to suddenly dawn on the driver that he might have gone a bit too far. He concluded the lecture and quickly began attempts at damage control.

"Asians as a race aren't really bad drivers. I mean, the Chinese aren't so bad..."

"But the Japanese," he reiterated, "Are just horrible."

Needless to say, the hebrew school never skimped on the field-trip vans again after that little incident.

Thank you, that is all.

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