“When you talk to people on the phone, do they think you are Chinese?” I was asked this question by a receptionist last week after I gave her my name. My last name is Woo. My last name is Woo because my husband’s last name is Woo, because his dad’s last name was Woo, because his dad’s last name was something that started with an H but he had to adopt the name Woo from his host family when he came to America from China. No one has ever asked me if I’m Chinese.
First of all, I’m about as blonde hair and blue eyed as you can get. (OK, OK, my hair is light brown, *pfft*) Second of all, if you heard me speak you would know instantly that I was born in a back holler (which is “hollow” for people who speak proper Enlglish) of small town Kentucky.
It just struck me as odd that she asked me that. It didn’t make me angry, but I did have a chuckle at her. I do realize it’s odd for someone like me to have a last name as amazing as “Woo”.
Unfortunatly, there have been some nasty remarks about such an awesome last name. For instance, I was once told that my husband was having difficulty finding work because “people will assume he can’t speak English.” I don’t know, correct me if I’m wrong but I thought we were in the 21st century where we, as the melting pot of the world that we are, don’t assume from someone’s name that they don’t know the language. My husband was born in Boston, and while he may forget an “r” or two here and there, he still has an exceptional grasp on the English language. So let’s just ignore the fact that our economy is in the toilet, with about 10% of the state out of work, and go straight to petty and mean assumptions. Even if someone was born in China and then came to America to work, it doesn’t mean they can’t speak English. People astound me sometimes.
At any rate, no, I’m not Chinese. I don’t look Chinese, I don’t sound Chinese. My husband is 1/4 Chinese. But if any potential employers are reading, my husband knows the English language really well! He’ll accept any job short of street-walking … and even then we might be willing to negotiate.