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You’ll Pay For That Comparison

, , | Friendly | July 25, 2017

Me: “Hey, can I hitch a ride with you?”

Friends: *teasingly* “I’m not a taxi!”

Me: “I know. I’m not paying you, am I?”

They’re Never Above Your Station

, , , , , , | Hopeless | July 24, 2017

(This happens a week or two after I have just arrived to Japan for a student exchange program. I have yet to have my phone connected to the Internet at this point, so I have to rely on memory to get around. This, coupled with my liking to walk rather than go by transport, results in me getting lost a lot. This time I’m trying to walk home from university, but end up in a different part of the town altogether, and it’s getting late so I decide to just find the nearest subway station. Luckily, I at least speak some Japanese.)

Me: *walks into a convenience shop* “Excuse me, could you tell me what the nearest train station is and how to get there?”

Clerk: “Well, it’s a 20-minute walk from here and it’s a little complicated… Hey, [Coworker #1], there is a foreign customer asking how to get to the train station. Can you explain it to her?”

([Coworker #1], an extremely nice middle-aged lady, calls [Coworker #2], a young man, and together they try to explain the way to me in half-English, half-Japanese. Unfortunately, I am not yet familiar with local landmarks and find my Japanese vocabulary significantly lacking for words such as “highway” and “T-crossing”. Eventually, they draw me crude map and, having thanked them, I walk out with it. They had even offered to walk part of the way with me, but that seemed like an obnoxious thing to accept, so I refused. As I am trying to follow the hand-drawn map, I hear footsteps behind me, and see a young man dressed like a typical office worker trying to catch up.)

Young Man: “Excuse me! I heard you talking to the clerk in that convenience store, and was wondering if I could help you find the way? Where do you want to get?”

Me: “[Neighbourhood where my dorm is], but I’m fine with just finding the train station.”

Young Man: “Well, if you keep walking like this, you’ll end up in Nara!”

(Nara is a town over 20 miles away in the opposite direction from where I need to get. He then walks with me to the train station, making polite conversation as we go. I assume he just needs to go in the same direction anyway. As we get to the station:)

Young Man: “Do you know which station you have to get off at? I can look up on my phone.”

Me: “Oh, thank you, but I know. It’s [Station].”

Young Man: “Then you just need to board the next train from [Platform]. Here, use my train pass.”

Me: “Oh, no, thank you. I have the money.”

Young Man: “Are you sure? It’s [fare]. My pass is unlimited, so it’s okay if you use it. My company pays for it anyway.”

Me: “No, no, but thank you. Thank you very much.”

(As I head to the ticket gate, I see him waving and turning to walk off.)

Me: “Aren’t you going?”

Young Man: “Me? Oh, no. I actually live in the opposite direction; this isn’t even the station I have to board from. I just wanted to make sure you were all right!”

(Young man, thank you so much for helping me get home that night! This encounter meant so much to me back then, especially since I was in the middle of adapting to the new country!)

This story is part of our Japan roundup!

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When It Came To Crunch Time, They Lost

, , , , , , | Friendly | July 7, 2017

I work on a market stall on a Saturday. My boss is great, a really nice bloke who I have known for years, but he won’t bend over backwards to help just anyone.

The stall is at the top of the street, and it means that cars cannot park there on a Saturday til six pm.

This man drives up in his car — quite a nice car (this is relevant). It is packing up time, but everyone still has a lot to do and there are vans and trucks all over the place. But this man WANTS to come down the street and park!

He doesn’t start well. He is very rude to a teenage boy on the opposite stall. The boy’s dad is a tough Irish man and he goes over to the man and has a quiet word. The man backs off without a murmur!

Then he starts on my boss. He wants my boss to move his van. my boss tells him that he will have to wait as he is in the middle of packing up. He has the flap down at the back of the van; it is quite obvious that it would be highly inconvenient for him to move it on demand.

This takes about five minutes. We are all watching this bloke because he is being such an idiot.

What he does next is extraordinary.

He drives his car through a small gap right next to my boss’s van. It isn’t big enough, and as I said the flap is down. The flap catches on the door of the car. It is made of tougher stuff than the car door, and there is an amazing crunching and tearing of metal as this man’s car door is totalled, but he just keeps going.

There is much clapping and laughing and some jeering, and my boss says “if you could have just waited!’. The man does not respond. He doesn’t look at anyone or say a single word.

Hands down the funniest 10 minutes I have ever had at work.

Acting Like A Complete Ditch

, , | Right | July 3, 2017

(I don’t work at this pub, but my family like to go there a lot for food so we’re pretty friendly with the staff, even with the owner. It’s nice and quiet in this building despite being directly next to a busy road with high speed traffic. The building itself has a river around two sides. A woman and her family walk in loudly, her talking loudly to someone on speakerphone with the phone next to her ear. We can’t understand her, but she is shouting, and eventually the owner comes and sits with us at our table, head in hands.)

Mom: “Everything okay? You look like you could use a strong drink.”

Owner: “I wish I could. I’d honestly take a straight tequila right now.”

Mom: “Is it that family that just came in? They are being very loud… Does she not know she’s on loudspeaker and we can hear her even at the back here?”

Owner: “Yeah, it’s them. It’d be great if it was something as simple as that; I could handle that. No, they… They crashed their car into the river.”

Me: “What?! Is everyone okay?” *I know First Aid and would have offered assistance if needed*

Owner: “Yeah, they’re all fine. They came around the bend too fast and went in.”

(Before we can say anything else, the woman appears at the doorway the section we are in, snapping her fingers at the owner.)

Woman: “You! Manager! Come here!”

Owner: *gets up with a small sigh, turning to her* “Yes, ma’am? We’re just waiting for the ambulance to get here to make sure your family is okay.”

Woman: “That’s not important. I want to know how you’re going to compensate me!”

Owner: “I-I’m sorry…?”

Woman: “My family could have been killed because of the river on your property and now we’re stranded here! Where is my compensation?!”

Owner: *speechless*

(Although normally I don’t like confrontation, I decide to say something.)

Me: “I’m sorry; you want him to pay you for you crashing your car?”

Woman: *turns to me with a look that could kill* “Yes, that ditch—”

Me: *interrupting* “You already fully admitted to him that you were speeding, all of which would have been captured on there.” *pointing to CCTV above the bar* “At this point, I’d be grateful none of your family was killed or even hurt because of your stupidity, unlike a family I had to help last year after they crashed into a tree.” *I’m getting upset and raising my voice at this point, despite my mom trying to calm me down.* “Now please, be quiet until the ambulance and police arrive because the staff here does not deserve your abuse when they’re already doing their best to help!”

Woman: *sputters a little before quietly going back to her family, saying something in another language*

(We eventually left after giving our statements to the police, and after I calmed down. The woman was quiet for the rest of the time we were there. When we went outside we saw the car.It was flipped almost on its roof and police had completely swarmed around it. Turned out the driver was drunk and speeding, not seeing the edge of the ditch, and flipped it into the water.)

Repairing Your Faith In Humanity

, , , , | Hopeless | July 1, 2017

(A couple comes into the car repair shop where I work, with their rather run down car. It needs quite a few fixes, but they can’t afford most bigger issues like some body work and a new clutch. They keep stressing about it during the entire time, as they are obviously struggling with money, but they need the car to get to work. We manage to get the costs down as much as possible and set them up with a payment plan, but it’s still quite a bill to handle. They can’t afford to rent a car as a replacement from my shop so they leave on their feet, looking rather down. Soon after, a guy comes in with a very nice car for an oil change. While we’re going through the details and payment he notices the young couple’s car on the shop floor.)

Customer: “Hey, mind if I take a look at that car for a moment?”

Me: “Oh, it’s not for sale; it’s a customer’s car that—”

Customer: “Oh, I know. I know. I just want to check something.”

(He walks over to the car and checks the license plate, some of the damage to the body, the tires, and finally looks inside through the window.)

Customer: “HA! Can you tell me what’s being done to it?”

(I list of the repairs we have agreed upon.)

Customer: “What? Wait, what about the front end?”

Me: “Actually, the people who own it can’t afford anything more, so we’re just doing what needs to be done to keep it running a bit longer.”

Customer: “Really?”

Me: “Yeah, they need it fast so we don’t have the time for any longer repairs, in addition to them not being able to afford it.”

Customer: “Hmm… Can I cover the costs of the repair? I mean, is that fine with the shop?”

Me: “Yes, you can! That’s awesome! Can I just add them to your bill?”

Customer: “Sure, but before you do, a couple of things. You’re going to fix that front end. It’s pushing the fluid container against the exhaust pipes, so it’ll melt if left alone. Actually, it’s probably damaged already so replace the container, too. Then you’re going to fix the horn and windshield cleaner spray-thingy; that’s been shot for years! And when we’re on with the things that haven’t been done for years — all new filters for oil and air. The doors also need new stoppers. Exhaust needs to be tightened down; it starts vibrating at about 2500 revs. New belts. New tires…”

(I’m amazed as customer has listed a lot of things we noticed wrong with the car by just looking at it.)

Me: “That’s going to raise the bill quite a bit, sir. It’s now actually up to—”

Customer: “Couldn’t give a f***! And a new gear selector! They still have that 0.50€ cloth top cover on it so I assume it hasn’t been replaced.”

Me: “Okay, sir. Sorry for asking, do you know the couple that owns it?”

Customer: “Never met them. Oh, and a new clutch, yes! I’m pretty sure I’ve shot that while drifting around corners with the bloody thing. And before you ask — yes, only 60 HP under the hood, but you can get him to slide if you know what you’re doing! Don’t recommend trying it, though.”

Me: “The price for the clutch is a rather high one, sir, as it’s an old model, so—”

Customer: “C’mon, mate.”

Me: “May I ask why, sir?”

Customer: “Oh, see, that piece of s*** was my first car; I loved it! Much fun was had in it! All the damage on to it has been done personally by me, I’m afraid… When I finished college and got a decent job I could actually afford something a bit better than a matchbox on wheels so I didn’t even bother fixing it up. I just drove it over to the first mechanic I found and gave the thing to him for free to use for parts. My guess is the f***er decided to get the better of some kid and sold him that!”

Me: “Maybe it was cheap?”

Customer: “Oh, come on. You’ve seen the monstrosity! A kick in the balls and some spit in the face would be too much to give for it in that state! The thing is, it’s actually quite a decent little thing once you fix a couple of issues that are plaguing it. Small, easy to drive, spends almost no fuel… The engine should still have less than 100k km on it, and I never had an actual issue with it. Transmission works like a charm, too. Oh, is the suspension fine on it?”

Me: “Yes, the suspension is actually in great shape.”

Customer: “Wow, really? I wouldn’t have thought, but I’ll trust the expert. I guess the problem was me going into turns too fast. Anything else that needs to be done to it?”

Me: “The stuff you listed is everything, sir. I guess you know it pretty well!”

Customer: “I drove the thing everywhere! Anyway, could you also get them a rental? It’s going to be quite a while and you told me they needed a car. Full insurance on it. And deliver it to them! It’s hot outside. I don’t want them coming here on foot.”

Me: “Of course, sir! Would you like me to let them know your name or a contact if they wish to thank you?”

Customer: “Not a chance. My car should be done already, so please just wait until I’m gone before you give them a call. Actually, I would like to leave a note, if possible.”

Me: “Sure, I can type it in here and they’ll get it with their bill. Feel free to give it to me.”

Customer: “Please just write something along the lines of: ‘I hope you enjoy the car. I know I did when it was mine! I’m better off than when I owned it so I can finally repair it now. All the stuff should be fixed up. Sorry about that. Make sure you don’t upshift on a hill; it will stall. And if you get the chance, someday, pay it forward!””

Me: “All done! Your bill is now [significantly higher than just an oil change] and your car is ready to go.”

Customer: “Thank you. I’ll be seeing you for my next oil change! And make sure to give me a call if you find something else that needs fixing on the car.”

(After the customer drove away, I called up the young couple to let them know the good news. They were ecstatic! When they came in to pick up their car, which was now in more than decent shape, they let me know that they’ve been struggling financially for a bit and they had to purchase the cheapest car they found. The boyfriend worked two jobs and he absolutely needed the car to get from one to the other so getting a rental while their car was fixed saved them and the free complete fix on their car helped them make a couple of payments on their loans. I couldn’t have given them the information for the customer, but I have attached a note to his account on their request in which they thanked him and promised to pay it forward ASAP. During the repairs, we found out that the brakes were rusted, and the customer covered replacement of those, too. The final total bill for the repair was in the thousands of Euros.)