However, as much as McDonalds grinds my gears, there are some things that irk me so much that I rather spend my evenings listening to a nails on chalk board orchestra than have to hear about or see on a regular basis. One of these are flippant accusations of racism or discrimination and phoney outrage, when the issue has nothing to do with discrimination or insensitivity (happens a lot these days) and one of the others is the smug, magnanimous, arrogant sense of entitlement of some older men in Korea and how they get away with it.
Why do they think they are entitled to so much respect? Because they are old, period. Well, it might work in Korea, but when they do something dumb, annoying, rude, or down-right out of order in other countries, they should not be surprised if some people call them out on it. It isn't about racism, ageism or any other form of prejudice, in fact it it is the opposite; when people are being a dick, they should be called out for it, regardless of race, age, or whatever.
So to help me raise my blood pressure this week, we had a story that combined these two pet hates of mine. Apparently, some Korean-American old fellas have been thrown out of a McDonalds in Queens, New York, by police because they - after only buying coffee (obviously not eating and I don't blame them) - then spent hours and hours gossiping away with each other whilst taking-up seating in the establishment. One of the gentlemen involved, Man Hyung Lee, 77, had this to say (with some added commentary taken from the New York Times article):
Then, upon being ordered out of the restaurant by the police, what did he do?"Mr. Lee said the officers had been called because he and his friends — a revolving group who shuffle into the McDonald’s on the corner of Parsons and Northern Boulevards on walkers, or with canes, in wheelchairs or with infirm steps, as early as 5 a.m. and often linger until well after dark — had, as they seem to do every day, long overstayed their welcome.“They ordered us out,” Mr. Lee said from his seat in the same McDonald’s booth a week after the incident, beneath a sign that said customers have 20 minutes to finish their food. (He had already been there two hours.) “So I left,” he said."
“Then I walked around the block and came right back again.”
Now, there is something quite comical about this, and at this stage, I did see the funny side of this story, at least to begin with. Then Christine Colligan, a leader of the Korean Parents Association of New York, called for a worldwide boycott of McDonalds because of it all (from the New York Times second article on the story):
“Senior citizens should not be treated as criminals,” said Christine Colligan, a leader of the Korean Parents Association of New York, as she stood outside the restaurant, her voice rising. “They should be respected.”That morning, Ms. Colligan had contacted her sprawling network in the Korean community urging a “worldwide” boycott of the fast-food restaurant for the month of February. In a letter, she attacked what she saw as “stark racism” by McDonald’s: “We will teach them a lesson,” the letter said.
"Stark racism", really? Surely, in any restaurant (especially a fast food restaurant) if customers were buying a minimal amount and taking-up seats all day, something would be said, and if they didn't move, they would be forced to. In my neck of the woods, if someone (and let's not forget, it seems to be a number of older Koreans) bought a coffee in a fast food restaurant and sat there for hours on end, preventing other customers from sitting down, most people would be thinking, "Are you taking the piss? Bugger off." I got told off for flicking through a magazine for a minute or two in a newsagents the other day and told, "this is not a library." Wait a minute, perhaps that was an example of racism, I should be outraged! Or maybe they were just being a little harsh, but perhaps I'd had been reading it too long and they are a business selling magazines after all and many people do push the limits of browsing through a magazine in order to buy it sometimes.
I wonder if these Korean-American older men thought, "I wonder if my behaviour could be deemed a little cheeky, unacceptable, or inconsiderate to others" or "I wonder if a group of White older men - to prove a point - made sure they got into the restaurant before them at 5am and then sat there all day - not allowing us to sit down and have a chat over coffee - how we would feel about it?" I am guessing from the stupidity of these reports and what has been said by the Korean community leaders, that this may not have seriously crossed their minds.
I suppose the 20 minute rule might be a bit strict, but they brought it on themselves. If they stayed for half an hour, even maybe just an hour, they might have been annoyingly tolerated, but let's face it they were pushing it from even the most generous perspective.
I have ranted about Korean respect cultural many times on this blog, and this one side effect of it really gets to me. I genuinely hate the feeling of superiority, the entitlement of elevated respect that many Korean older gentlemen think they deserve, and what they feel they can get away with because of it. You're in America now gentlemen, respect has to be earned and you will be treated just like everyone else. The horrible irony is that, these days, when Western countries do treat people of other countries, races, and cultures the same as everybody else, it's called 'racism'.