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This Shouldn’t Be A Workplace Hazard

, , , , | Right | May 18, 2022

I see a sign inside a Tokyo restaurant:

Sign: “Do not touch our waitresses, ask for their contact information, or wait for them outside. This restaurant will not be responsible for any injuries happening to anyone who ignores this warning.”

Duly noted, yikes!

Getting Hostile At The Hostel

, , , , , , | Right | CREDIT: wandering-black-cat | February 3, 2022

I was working in Japan as a property manager, managing a set of hostels and guesthouses. This happened during the high season, called the golden week. Prices were getting ridiculously expensive, even in guesthouses and hostels.

I was training a new receptionist, a lovely young girl from Michigan who was absolutely amazing and friendly. She was a perfect fit for the job; she was a fast learner, friendly, and positive. I told her that she was ready for her first shift alone, but if she needed me, she could send me a text anytime and I’d get straight to the reception.

We have cameras in the lobby, recording all the time, to protect my staff from furious guests.

[Receptionist]’s first guest arrived: one man, in his early thirties, looking friendly at first. They spoke a bit, and in fact, he was also from Michigan.

A few minutes later, I received a simple message.

Receptionist: “H. E. L. P.”

I went to the front. The guy was pissed off and wanted to talk to a manager.

I introduced myself and asked what problem we were facing.

Guest: “Your staff showed me ‘my room’ and it seems it is just a bed! And other people were inside, too!”

Me: “Yes, this is a dorm. Did you book a private room?”

Guest: “I’m not sharing my space with people who potentially have diseases or are snoring. And your staff—” *pointing at my poor, confused receptionist* “—told me I had one bed in this massive room. I want a private room!”

Me: “Let me check your reservation, sir.”

I got onto the computer and checked his reservation.

Me: “Sir, it seems you booked a bed in the ten-person dormitory room. Therefore, there is nothing we can change about it.”

Guest: “Okay, then I want an upgrade. Get me a private room.”

Me: “I would love to, sir, but unfortunately, we are full for tonight.”

Guest: “Okay, then I want a refund. There is no way I’m going to stay here. I’m looking for another place.”

Me: “Up to you, sir, but unfortunately, I cannot refund you. You made a reservation on [Travel Agency], and this travel agency has its own cancelling policy. In your case, you had to cancel two weeks prior to your arrival to be eligible for a full refund.”

Guest: “That is bulls***! And I never wanted to book a bed in a dormitory! Who does that? Are you crazy?”

Me: “Sir, calm down, please. We just have received your reservation the way you made it. Plus, it’s a very good deal. You made the reservation more than six months in advance when our price was the lowest possible.”

Guest: “I don’t care! Get me my refund!”

Me: “Sir, you paid online. The only one who may be able to refund you is the booking service you have used to make a reservation. Not us.”

Guest: “You guys are just trying to screw me over. I demand to speak to a manager!”

Me: “Sir, like I said, I am the manager. I really apologize for the trouble, but I cannot refund you. And I would personally advise you to stay. It’s a nice place; you’ll meet nice people here to hang out with.”

Guest: “I don’t care about people. I want my privacy.”

Me: “Sir, why did you book a bedroom in a dorm if you didn’t want it, if I may ask you?”

Guest: “I did not know. I just booked the cheapest place I found on the Internet.”

Me: “So… you booked a place and did not even read what you booked?”

Guest: “Correct.”

Me: “And you want us to refund you… for a mistake that you made?”

Guest: “I did not make a mistake. I just did not know what I booked. So, please, can I get a refund?!”

Me: “One minute, sir.”

I call the travel agency and put the call on speaker.

Travel Agent: “How can I help you?”

Me: “I have a guest, booking [number], who wants to get a refund for his reservation.”

Travel Agent: “All right, what is the reason?”

Me: “The guest made a mistake and did not know what he booked.”

Travel Agent: “Underst— Wait… What?”

Me: “You heard me. The guest clearly made a reservation for a bed in a ten-person bedroom and did not expect to have to share this space with other people.”

Guest: “That is not it! I just booked the cheapest place I found. I did not expect it to be a dorm.”

Travel Agent: “Sir, you made a booking on our website, right?”

Guest: “Yes.”

Travel Agent: “And you did receive a confirmation email, right?”

Guest: “Yes.”

Travel Agent: “And did you read it?”

Guest: “No need to — all those emails are the same anyway.”

Travel Agent: “Sir, we send those emails to make sure that you know what you have booked. If you did not read your reservation, the establishment cannot be responsible for that mistake, and unfortunately, a refund cannot be processed.”

Guest: “That is bulls***! I wanna cancel it! This place sucks! I’m not staying here anyway!”

Me: “Sir… I really don’t want to sound rude, but I would strongly advise you not to cancel. Prices are crazy right now! The single bed you have on your reservation cost you only 1,000 yen (about $10 US) plus tax; prices at the moment are about 12,000 yen (around $120 US) per night for one bed in a dorm room in most hostels.”

Guest: “Bulls***! You just want to take my money away!”

Travel Agent: “Please, sir, try not to swear. We have all remained polite so far.”

Guest: “I want to cancel this reservation right now!”

Me: “[Travel Agent], did you hear that? [Guest] with reservation [number] wants to cancel. I will therefore cancel the reservation according to the guest’s wish.”

Travel Agent: “Confirmed. [Guest] with reservation [number] will have his reservation cancelled. Have a good day.”

The guest grumbled and then swore before leaving.

Guest: “I’ll get my money back, one way or another! Your place sucks, anyway! Service is terrible!”

I exchanged some eye contact with [Receptionist] as the guest stormed away.

Me: “Don’t worry. Not all guests are like that.”

Receptionist: “Don’t worry. Not everyone from Michigan is like that.”

We laughed and got back to business.

Later, around 7:30 pm, when it was raining incredibly hard, guess who came back?

Guest: “Sorry for earlier. I got a bit carried away… Could I still have my bed?”

Me: “Sorry, sir, as you requested,your reservation has been cancelled, and someone already made a reservation. We are totally full.”

Guest: “But where am I supposed to sleep? Everything is either too expensive or fully booked!”

Me: “In Japan, you can sit in some places such as [Fast Food Restaurant] and Internet cafes, but you need to order food. And of course, these places cannot be held responsible for your belongings.”

I wanted to be fair, so I gave him a few addresses for hotels that MAY have availabilities.

We sold the bed — which basically was 1,000 yen — for 15,000 yen.

The man sent an email to the travel agency stating that he never came to our place, nor to Japan. The travel agency emailed us, and I simply sent back footage of the conversation we had during the afternoon.

It’s A Small World, And This Girl’s All Over It

, , , , | Friendly | November 21, 2021

In high school, I knew an extremely outgoing girl. Everyone in my friend group knew her from somewhere; she lived down the street from my father, [Friend #1] and [Friend #2] had classes with her, [Friend #3] took dance lessons with her, and so on. None of us were particularly close with [Girl], but all of us knew her.

It’s not like this was a small-town phenomenon, either; I lived in a major city and not all of my friends attended the same school or lived in the same area. On more than one occasion, even years later, we’d somehow bump into people who would mention their friend [Girl], and it was ALWAYS the [Girl] we knew.

Several years after I’ve moved overseas, I run into another foreign woman who looks lost. I offer to help her find her way. It turns out that she’s from my home city, and I give her a few pointers for getting around.

Woman: “Thank you! I would’ve been wandering around forever on my own.”

Me: “No problem. Looks like the building you want is just a few blocks past the entrance to [Famous Landmark], and you can take this bus route to get there.”

Woman: “Oh, [Landmark]?” *Talking to herself* “[Girl] sent me an article about [Landmark]…”

I stop for a moment, thinking that it can’t be. There must be a hundred [Girl]s in my home city. But I have to ask.

Me: “[Girl]? You don’t happen to mean [Girl] [Last Name]?”

Woman: “Tall, blonde, really athletic, and outgoing?”

Me: “Has a sister named [Sister]?”

Woman: “You know her, too?!”

Me: “At this point, I’m convinced everyone in [Home City] knows her!”

This Defeat Is Humiliating But Adorable

, , , , , , | Friendly | November 9, 2021

This was in the early 2000s when arcade games were still popular. I was touring in Japan and decided to stop into a large arcade. With this arcade, you had the option of paying money up front and having the credits added to a card as opposed to the old-fashioned method of stacking coins on the machine as you played. With each play, you simply swiped the card over a reader and it would add another credit for you to play.

I came upon the wildly popular Street Fighter game and noticed there were two of the same arcade cabinets positioned back to back, facing away from each other. A Japanese girl who looked to be between six and eight years old was kneeling on a chair and playing away at one of them. I took the game opposite from her, swiped my card, cracked my knuckles, and got ready to throw down.

I got practically MASSACRED to a point where it was nearly humiliating, considering the fact that I was usually untouchable at this game. I wondered out loud:

Me: “Do the Japanese put the difficulty level at nightmare level for their games? God Almighty!”

Ego got the better of me, and I swiped that card for game after game, determined that I wasn’t walking away until I could beat that thing. And game after game, I got absolutely demolished. My sister who was touring with me strolled past.

Sister: “Why do you look so pissed?”

Me: “The AI in this game is insane! Nothing like the version in America! It’s like it’s practically predicting my every move and has a counterattack for it. I can’t touch it!”

Finally, I ended up running out of money on my card, and I slammed my fist on the game cabinet, yelled a string of profanity, and began the loser’s walk of shame to the exit. As I was walking away, the little Japanese girl I mentioned stuck her tongue out at me. A small group of children who had since congregated around her began laughing.

That was when it occurred to me: all this time, I wasn’t playing against the arcade CPU. IT WAS HER! It was the first time in my life I’d ever had the urge to smack a kid!

I went back about two other times, and each time, when I was playing some other game, I would feel someone tap me on the waist and I would turn to see that little girl smiling sweetly at me, waggling her little fingers, and then pulling up a chair and swiping her card over the credit reader, ready to completely decimate me at whatever I was playing. And that she did without fail, while always gesturing for me to swipe my card so she could murder me again. And again. And again…

Watashi Whaaa, Part 2

, , , | Right | October 22, 2021

My boyfriend comes with me to Okinawa. I have been studying Japanese, and we have decided to go to Japan for a month for a bit of immersion and practice. [Boyfriend] cannot speak a word of Japanese beyond “konnichiwa.”

One morning, we decide to go to this cute place for breakfast. A gaggle of kids has been just in front of us, so the waitress who comes to seat us asks us how many people are in our party. 

I confidently break out my skills to tell her we are a party of two. 

Me: “Futsuka desu.”

The waitress looks confused but takes us to a table and gives us a minute with the menu. After a moment, I realize my mistake: “Futsuka” is the word for two DAYS, not two people. When she comes back, I apologize for using the wrong word and happily chirp my correction.

Me: “Futori desu!”

The waitress looked mildly uncomfortable but didn’t say much. I chalked it up to her not needing to be told we were two people when we were obviously two people sitting at a table. 

It wasn’t until the next morning that I realized that the word for “two people” in Japanese is “futari.” I said “futori”… meaning I was insisting to the waitress that we were fat. 

Now I am back in the states, and I still think about that and blush every time I go to a diner.

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Watashi Whaaa