Humans of Chinatown: Ah-Min


It’s July 4th, and a lonely girl in a white cap and a winter coat stands on the shady corner of Sacramento Street and Grant Avenue in Chinatown, San Francisco.

She’s passing out dim sum ads for the dim sum place she’s working at now. Some people brush her off as they walk by, and some people absentmindedly take the ad and stuff it into their pockets one block down the road. No one bothers to talk to her or to even say a “no thank you” to her.

But she barely registers these, because she doesn’t understand most English. All she says is “dim sum” in a quiet voice as she puts her arm out with the ad, not expecting it to do much.

Her back is turned as I hesitantly approach her, and I smile and ask her if I can interview her. After a few questions, I realize she doesn’t exactly understand what I’m saying. We switch to Chinese, to the delight of her, and we exchange a few greetings and basic information.

Her name is Ah-Min, and she is 29 years old.

“My name is Ah-Min, like min gan(sensitive). Sometimes it’s a little lonely, because most of the times I’m by myself when I’m working. [San Francisco] had really nice weather, but it’s cold and it can get windy, which is why I wear such a big jacket all the time,” she said.

She moved in Chinatown in the March of 2012 in search of a better life with her family.

“[The tourists] all see the sushi place first, and then they go eat sushi. I really have no ideas on how to get them to dim sum. But dim sum is always better than sushi.”

She lives in Chinatown, San Francisco with her husband and her mother, while her father lives in China. Right off the bat, Min is very positive about her life and smiles often, even at passersby who don’t take her dim sum coupons.

She’s very open to me, and laughs about not being able to speak English. When I ask her about her thoughts on our current political situation, she jokes about how Chinatown is so isolated because everyone speaks Chinese that it just feels like China.

“I don’t really celebrate the Fourth July; the fireworks and the people, they’re just too much! It’s too loud, and there’s so many people everywhere! The closest one is Fisherman’s Wharf, but there’s always so many people. I still have to work at night, so I just never want to go; I’m way too tired.”