I have a bad habit of learning lessons. If you've read my posts enough you'll see a pattern of me repeating mistakes. I did it in Xi'an as well.
I have a bad tendency to pre-judge people. That's where the word prejudice comes from. I think if we all admitted it, we would find we all do it to varying extents. Even the most liberal minded pre-judges the conservative.
I try not too, but it's ingrained in me. This played out on my trip to Xi'an.
If you read my post on the girl I encountered in Xi'an, you'll remember I judged the motives of her.
But I was wrong as I often am. It didn't take long before I did it again, but this time to a young adult male.
I'm not a big fan of Chinese food from China as I mentioned here:
So, I often seek alternatives if possible. In large cities like Xi'an, a city of 12 million, there are ample opportunities. One is McDonalds. Yeah, I know.
I walked into this particular restaurant and the place was empty. I mean no one was there! That's very unusual for an overseas McDonalds or one anywhere. I ordered my meal then took my seat. But from the time I ordered and sat down, I noticed a young male sitting at a table alone with no food in front of him. I took my place at another table a distance away to give personal space.
After I was seated he got up from his table and took a seat at my table. He spoke broken English. I asked him if he wanted this table, and, not wanting conflict, I began to gather my meal to move.
Well, if I could convey the hurt look in his eyes to you in words it would break your heart as it did mine. He looked at me with saddened expression and said, "You not sit to me?"
I could tell the way he spoke the words he was mentally challenged. Although a young adult, he acted more in the capacity of a small child. And that caused me to feel deep shame.
I knew he saw me as a novelty. I mean, even in this city of 12 million, I rarely saw a westerner and I don't recall seeing another American. He just wanted to interact with a foreigner, the very thing I pride myself in doing. It was just like the girl in Xi'an story. I pre-judged this boy with bad intent because he did something off the wall like join me at my table in McDonalds.
Well, with broken heart I sat back down and told him of course I'll sit with him. I told him where I was from and we chatted only a minute, then his mother appeared. She apparently left him there while she went to the bathroom.
She called to him and smiled at me and he departed. Only a few moments of interaction but it left me with a second lesson of my prejudice nature. Another sad view of myself.
I wish I could say I learned, and maybe I did, but I don't expect it will be the last time I act like this. I have a hard time implementing lessons learned.