I was halfway through a meeting when she spilled her cup of milk.
Apologizing with a laugh to the man next to her and joking that normally its her kids who spill things (she was with two kids), she casually righted the cardboard cup and went on with her meal. Her kid asked for more donut. The man silently wiped off his shoe.
Five minutes later she went into the cafe. Five minutes later she was gone. The milk remained.
I assumed she was going to get napkins, but she didn't. I assumed someone from the cafe would come to clean it up, but no one did. Instead, an hour later, a maintenance person finally came by with a mop.
I'm not sure why it bothered me so much.
As a person who feels responsible for the mess he makes (to the point that I will stack my dishes at full-service restaurants), it's almost inconceivable that I would not make a big deal over literal spilled milk. I would grab all the napkins I can and get to work mopping it all up, probably enlisting my kids and passing strangers to grab me paper towels, a bucket, a mop, an industry-grade vacuum cleaner, etc etc.
I wonder, often, whether some of these urges I have are rooted in actual "just been a good human"-hood or in under-the-surface Japanese Americanness. I think back to Tony Osumi and Jenni Kuida's fantastic (though somewhat outdated/LA-centric -- I have no idea who Rex Walters is) list of Ways to Tell if You're Japanese American, a list I remember reading in middle school on some terrible web 2.0 site called aznjokes.com or something to that effect. Perhaps it was angelfire.com/aznjokes. Regardless, it wasn't it.
But it was through that list and many others that I learned "how to be" an Asian American. As I wasn't raised in a strong Asian American community, I learned the walk through my parents (who were somewhat untraditional) and reading things that dictated how I should or should not behave.
Perhaps I can let the milk thing go. Perhaps this blog will be an opportunity to unpack, examine, and rearrange.