Several American veterans live in the Philippines and they sometimes come to Citizen Services section of the US Consulate for assistance.
Bill, a large jut-jawed long-haired man, appeared one morning.
Bill came in with a noticeable frown and, after a quick glance at me, declared that he didn’t want to speak with a ‘brownie.’ The word is a common pejorative term for Asians.
I told him I was the consul and I would like to help. He repeated he didn’t want to have anything to do with a ‘brownie.’
I again explained to him that I was in charge of the consulate and would be glad to assist if he told me his predicament. Anticipating that he was expecting a Caucasian, I also explained that my superior, the Ambassador, would not be available for such consular matters.
This time he said with a grimace that he didn’t care to deal with ‘brownies.’
I called the Marine guards. They are usually men of few words: they simply picked him up and threw him on the street outside.
I thought that was the end of Bill. But sometimes life offers, unlike Hollywood, an interesting sequel.
In the jail, he had spoken insultingly to the staff and threatened a guard, and they had put him in chains.
When he appeared before me, he realized I was his only hope. He begged me to help him.
I told him I was still a ‘brownie’ but would do my best. I got him a good lawyer and I requested the jailor to take off his chains.
Bill stood there, as I was leaving, bedraggled, cowed and totally bereft of his earlier bravado. I turned and gave him a gift of two boxes of American cereals, something I knew from past experience American prisoners missed in the local prison.