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  • Shogun The Way To Go Home, Part 2

    | Tokyo, Japan | Awesome Customers, Bigotry, Language & Words, Top, Tourists/Travel

    (I grew up in Japan and am bilingual, even though I am Australian by birth. I am showing some Australian friends around Tokyo.)

    American customer: *to the station attendant, in English* “Hey, I need to get to Akihabara station. How do I do that?”

    Station attendant: *in Japanese* “Sorry, I do not speak English. Could you point it out?”

    (As the station attendant speaks, he has a big map of the subway system and his gestures make it VERY obvious what he wants the customer to do.)

    American customer: *in English* “Are you deaf?! I need to get to Akihabara station!”

    Station attendant: *in Japanese, while gesturing at the map emphatically* “I don’t know English, sorry. Please point where you are going.”

    American customer: *in English* “Stupid Asians. Just tell me how to get there!”

    (I intervene at this point, as I feel sorry for the poor station worker.)

    Me: *in Japanese* “He wants to get to Akihabara station. I know the way; I’ll explain it to him.”

    (I explain, in English, how to get to the station, and tell him the station attendant was trying but he doesn’t speak English.)

    American customer: *to me, in English* “These stupid Japs should learn English. Why couldn’t he tell me that?”

    Me: “When Asians visit your country, you expect them to speak English, right? So it’s only fair when you come here you try to use their language. Plus, he was trying to help you if you had just pointed it out on the map.”

    American customer: “Everyone should know English!”

    (He storms off without apologizing, or thanking me or the station worker.)

    Station attendant: *to me, in Japanese* “Thank you so much for helping. I didn’t know what to do.”

    Me: “Don’t worry about it. He was just being rude. I feel like I should be apologizing for his behaviour on behalf of all foreigners.”

    Station attendant: “Oh, don’t worry, we get much worse. Then there are people like you who help convince me you’re not all bad. Thanks again!”

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    Shogun The Way To Go Home