Nothing Really Stops Existing

Brandon - Issaquah, Washington
Entered on November 17, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

I believe that even in a modern society, prejudice is still among every one of us. Discrimination can happen to anyone, not just one person or group of people. Although it has been many years since slavery existed, the ideas and concepts towards minorities remains pretty much the same. I have experienced many instances of prejudice, minor and major throughout my lifetime – this is an example of a one of those major instances.

This past summer, I went to visit the East Coast for some college trips with my family. They were mainly for my brother, who is this year, a senior in high school. We were staying in Washington D.C. and took the red eye from Seattle to get there. The trip was awesome; we visited about 10 states and had enjoyed our visit until we decided to go to North Carolina. My brother and my mom were interested in visiting Duke University. We had a great time-the campus was nice, the book store was cool, and we got some nice souvenirs. My family stayed the night there and we were leaving the next day, very early to get back to D.C.

We were craving something tasty for breakfast, as the road trip would be a few hours long. Denny’s was nearby and we thought hey, when has Denny’s ever let us down? We entered the diner, smiles and all and were greeted with blank stares. It was like the whole world had stopped to look at us, and not in the way we would have liked. The image still reminds me of movie scenes; when people stop to stare at a hobo, moving out of the way so they wouldn’t get in contact with them. Everyone in the restaurant stopped what they were doing and just looked at us. I looked at my brother, who looked back at me, and I remember thinking “Why are they just staring at us? Did I say something wrong?” We were kindly seated by a young African American gal, with a nice Southern accent. It seemed that after we were seated, everyone went back to normal. There was the natural chatter of people enjoying their meal. My family and I just shook it off like it was nothing. We all ordered, but our waitress didn’t seem to care. She was an older lady of African decent. I thought that she would probably need to write our orders down, as they were reasonably large orders, but I renounced the idea, as some waitresses could remember orders.

Fifteen minutes had passed; the food was still not there. “How strange,” my mom said, “That table came after us and they already have their food…” I pondered the idea…maybe ours takes longer to prepare or something. Thirty minutes had elapsed, and there was still no sign of us getting the food. My dad grabbed the attention of another waitress walking by and asked her to check on our food. She came back moments later with all of our plates, full of pancakes, omelets and bacon. I tasted my food-it was cold. The person who took our orders probably forgot about us, I thought. We then caught the attention of the waitress who took our orders, and asked her what had happened. She gave us a mean glare and said that she must have forgotten, even though we saw her take food to tables that had arrived after us. We knew that she was lying and had probably refused to serve us. The lady walked away, and the waitress that gave us our food came to check up on us, “How ya doin’ folks?” she asked. My parents explained to her that our food was cold and that the lady who had taken our order refused to serve us. She said that she was terribly sorry for the inconvenience, and took our plates to get them warmed up.

We finished the meal in silence and left a small tip on the table. I remember leaving the diner frustrated and angry. There was nothing that could make up for how I felt that day. Anger, humiliation, and most of all rage were all things that I felt. On the way out, my dad asked my brother and me what we had learned that day. We kind of just looked at each other and knew that we didn’t want to answer; we just wanted to get back to D.C. I knew, with all my heart that that lady had refused to serve us because we are Asian, which was even stranger because she herself was a minority. I felt ashamed for making the suggestion to go to the restaurant, but not by my ethnicity.

In the car, on the trip back, my brother announced that he would never look back towards North Carolina. Duke University was not a school he was considering anymore. I knew that it was not the school itself, just the impression he got from the state. I now realized that prejudice still very much existed, and that it would probably always be there. This statement, I believe.