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    Are Chinese delivery men invisible?

    By Jennifer 8. Lee | June 19, 2007

    The new New York Times Cityroom blog (go Sewell!) has a piece on how delivery bicyclists must wear helmets. Many accidents like getting doored etc. Perhaps because delivery men are invisible in our eyes. The whole missing deliveryman in an elevator from 2004 plays to this theory.

    My friend, David Hu, once had a taste of this invisibility. David, an American-born Chinese mathematician, moved to New York City a few years back and bikes around the city. Once he called me when he was in the neighborhood and offered to bring me some snacks. When he showed up at the lobby, the security guards looked at him without acknowledging his presence. “It was little weird,” he said. They would not let him upstairs. At first he was confused by their response since he been to visit me before. Then it slowly dawned on him that he was 1) a Chinese man 2) wearing in a bike helmet 3) carrying a plastic bag of food. The guards thought he was a delivery man — like the other Chinese man who was waiting in the lobby. When he explained (in a perfect American accent) he was here to see me, the security guards’ eyes refocused on him in a new light — like seeing him as a human. When he got upstairs, I noted wryly that David may have attracted international attention for his math research, but he’s just an education away from being a delivery man.

    I told my mom this story in an e-mail, and she wrote back in her charming but haphazard English. “As long as you are Chinese, and careless about your outfit, you can be an uneducated person or illegle aileen. that is why most of the people care about the out look.” She added a story about how my parents once got dinner for a friend who lived on the Upper West Side because she could not leave her apartment.”When daddy came back to the building witht he bag, the doorman said to him: No flyers on the floor. He is also a Ph.D. away from the deliverman.” I’m just an education away from being a seamstress.

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