Two examples yesterday of the frustration at times of being a foreigner in Japan. Of course there are many times when being an ‘alien’ works in my favour but its annoying when you’re trying to just go about simple things and you have to endure problems. First of all I went in to the post office (a place which has p*ssed me off before with its anal rules although I guess in some way that is what makes this country operate smoothly) and gave the clerk two cards and said I wanted to send them to Igirisu (England) but moments later I see him pointing at England and asking his colleague which country that is in Japanese. “Excuse me, but I just told you in Japanese what it is” I think to myself.
Next, I meet my friend Shinji and after some ramen we go to ‘Dennys’ to just sit and relax over a dessert and a few soft drinks. Ready to order another drink I call over the waiter. “Excuse me, one of these please” I say to him in Japanese and he replies “chotto matei kudasai” (just a moment please) which I thought just meant he was busy and would take my order soon but then seconds later a waitress comes to the table and asks for my order which Shinji gives this time.
It seems that as often happens the Japanese get flustered when someone obviously foreign speaks to them and right from the start they are not gonna even try and understand anything I say even though it’s in their language. Sure, my pronunciation is terrible at times but they switch off as soon as I open my mouth and panic and don’t listen to anything I say. Shinji said he thought that the waiter probably just assumed I was speaking in English and didn’t listen to me at all.
A couple of years ago I was out with my ex-girlfriend and as always the waiter goes over to her when it comes to ordering which is fair enough and maybe the same would happen in England but it did irk me somewhat when they always wanted confirmation and reassurance from her for the order. I guess most of the time everything goes well and of course they don’t mean anything intentionally bad but every now and again things like this happen and make me feel like I am invisible and don’t exist.