In the spirit of Shit My Dad Says--which I just found out has not only a book, but also an upcoming TV pilot starring William Shatner--I found this recent gaffe by my Mormon co-worker absolutely hilarious.
Let's set the scene. Our little workgroup of seven got together for a farewell brunch for our Mormon co-worker. We were sitting around a table on the sunny patio of a neighborhood French cafe-restaurant. We had been talking about healthcare, which inevitably morphs into a discussion on haves and have-nots, a stratified social class structure, and upward mobility or lack thereof.
About upward mobility through one's own hard work, the Mormon turned to my friend--who is Japanese-American, self-proclaimed delinquent punk, and former biker dude--and said, "I really appreciate your culture."
My ears perked up. I was pretty certain we were on a collision course with wackiness.
The ex-biker was taken aback and said, "Dude, I was born in New York!"
"No, no, I mean Asians in general," said the Mormon, trying to clarify his words and save face. He continued and said something to the effect of, "You know, the boat people work really hard, get good grades."
He said, "boat people."
There was a collective jaw drop, an uneasy shifting in our seats, and a general air of "holy shit." We're all from vastly different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Living in and near San Francisco in these times, we expect certain levels of political correctness.
He said it in his usual disarmingly nice manner. There was no way he meant in maliciously; he was trying to compliment my people, I guess. But man, he just said it so nonchalantly, as if it were a perfectly normal and acceptable term.
I thought this was hilarious! His clueless delivery made it really easy to shove his entire foot in his mouth.
"Man," I said between chuckles, "just keep on cranking open that can of worms."
"Well, yeah, my dad did come over on a boat," the ex-biker said. "For his Fulbright!"
I don't know why I wasn't completely offended this time. Maybe it's because I know that it's probably more ignorance than malice. Plus, I've been keeping a mental collection of the ridiculous/offensive/suggestive things he has said.
Anyway, that's what we were all buzzing about when we got back to the lab. Shit Our Mormon Co-Worker Says.
And we started referring to each other as FBP, Fellow Boat People.