I grew up in Redondo Beach and lived in West Los Angeles and Sherman Oaks before moving to Alhambra 20 years ago. Since then, I have noticed some unique aspects of life in the SGV. Some of these characteristics were similar to those of my Asian upbringing, but some were new to me as I gradually became a longtime "626" resident. Here is a list of some of the things that have become a part of my life in the SGV:
You know you've been living in the San Gabriel Valley for a long time when…
1. It doesn't seem unusual when you see an Asian woman driving a car and wearing a white glove that goes up to her elbow. Often, she is also wearing an oversized sun visor with a tinted plastic sunshade shielding most of her face. (A few years ago, a visiting friend saw a woman wearing such a glove and asked me if it was because she was a fan of Michael Jackson. Nope.)
2. Off the top of your head, you know the location of at least three Sam Woo restaurants.
3. You automatically assume that anyone with the last name of “Lee” is Asian. (I exchanged numerous emails with a co-worker with the last name of Lee, and I was surprised when I met her for the first time that she was African American.)
4. You have a hankering for a corned beef sandwich and know that finding a good Jewish deli means going west on the 10 Freeway. Sorry, no sweet and sour pastrami on pan fried rye bread on the menu here.
5. You go to the Cheesecake Factory for a meal and it feels a little like exotic dining. What? No chopsticks? No soy sauce? And the waiters are attentive?
6. You enter a home and your first instinct is to take off your shoes.
7. You are offended that you have to pay for tea at a restaurant. You have been spoiled and have grown to expect complimentary tea and refills when dining.
8. Friends tells you that their teenage son or daughter is playing soccer, taking violin and piano lessons, volunteering at the senior center, competing on the math team, taking three Advanced Placement classes, participating in student government, and maintaining a 4.5 GPA. They add that they feel their child is an underachiever, and you agree.
9. You doubt the quality of any Chinese restaurant whose patrons are not at least 80% Asian. Also, the restaurant's Health Department letter grade is irrelevant.
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