Tuesday, December 17, 2013

How do you say Stapler in Japanese?

I had a lot of fun in Office Max the other day.

First of all, I ran into one of Sara's teachers there, who sang Sara's praises.  The teacher and I were exchanging pleasantries; the amusing part was Sara, who was with me.  She was so embarrassed that she was writhing in agony.  The teacher and I both observed this and  took things to the next level:  giggling together, walking out to the parking lot with each other, etc...  Teenagers are embarrassed by the strangest things!  Which of course adds a lot of entertainment value to even mundane tasks.

I was checking out when I over heard a situation at the check-stand next to me.  An elderly Asian man was there, bundled up to his ears in an enormous parka.  He looked anxious, and was making a "press the button" motion on the counter-top while saying a word in what sounded like Japanese to me.  This went on for a minute or so, but the cashier was stumped.  The gentlemen did not speak one word of English.  I watched his hand motions for a second, then inserted myself into the game of charades.  I made a "cutting" motion.  "Scissors?"  The man shook his head and made a "pinching" motion with his thumb and middle finger. Hmmm...  "Hole punch?"  I did a similar "pinch", but inserted a finger from my other hand in it, as if it were a piece of paper being punched.  His face lit up, but I wasn't sure, because that might look like paper in a stapler, too.  Then another customer called out, "Does he mean 'stapler'"?  The "press down with the heel of your hand" motion got his interest.  I asked the clerk, "Do you have a stapler back there?"  "Yeah."  He held it up.  "Is that what you want?"  Big smile!  Big nod!  OK!

The clerk said, "Aisle five", and went on to the next customer in line.  The Japanese guy's face fell.  He looked confused.  I held up five fingers.  "Aisle five."  I gestured at the aisle numbers.  "Aisle five."  Nothin' doin'.  I beckoned.  "Come with me."  We went to aisle five together and there was a wide array of staplers.  Heaven!  Stapler heaven!  He was thrilled.  He bowed deeply.  Then he grabbed my hand and pumped it energetically.  Then he gave me an enthusiastic hug.

If I had had a business card with me, I would have suggested he sign up for classes.  Or maybe I would have just enjoyed the moment.


  1. this is a wonderful story- have a Merry Christmas- you sure made that mans day!


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