Sunday, July 19, 2015

279 Quiz Answer

(Also for Three Word Wednesday and ABC Wednesday: "B" is for "blunder")

I’m afraid this will be looked upon as the timid way out, but I chose the cut-and-run option.
I felt that an apology, no matter how elaborate – especially since I was in no way at fault – would be dragging things out needlessly.  Instead, I just quietly left, did my work and flew home.  Sooner or later they figured out what had happened, and with a minimum of embarrassment for everyone.

I’ve written before about my work as a film-maker a few decades ago, so I thought this time I’d tell you about my Japan adventure.

The movie I was making was nothing special, no polished, potential Oscar-winner; it was just the equivalent of a metallic, nuts-and-bolts film, though the topic was rice-growing

So I flew to Tokyo, ready to go to work. As I got off the plane, I believed that the Japanese were really taking this motion picture project seriously because, as I was surprised to see, I was being met at the airport by a large limo.

And not just a limo; the car had a uniformed driver and another chap, also uniformed, who rode shotgun - though in Japan I suppose it would be shogun :-) - in the front passenger seat.

I had never had a job, of any kind, that started off so auspiciously. They drove me to their head office and I found myself meeting everyone. They were all friendly and welcoming; there was a lot of bowing, me doing my share, of course.

It was lunchtime, so they asked if I would prefer going to a steak-house or would I like to try some authentic Japanese food? Well, of course, we had steak-houses back in the Stytes and besides, I thought it would be a good political move to opt for the indigenous cuisine, so we headed off for what I would today recognize as a sushi place.

I say I would recognize it today; I didn’t recognize it then. Truth is, a few decades ago there weren’t many sushi joints in our country, and you certainly didn’t see sushi for sale in grocery stores. Most westerners of that era didn’t know from sushi; the idea of eating raw fish was regarded as just sort of weird.

However, I could see that this restaurant I was being taken to was elegant and upscale – i.e., expensive – so I looked forward to an interesting experience.

But there was a fly in the saki. Something had been worrying me, and it had nothing to do with raw fish.  It had gradually dawned on me that this was all kind of a blunder: I was inadvertently sailing under false colors.

The reason for the great welcome I had received?  I came to realize that they thought that I, a humble artisan, was actually one of the top executives of the worldwide corporation they were a part of. That explained the limo and its two charioteers.

That was bad enough. Just as bad was the question, how on earth do I go about telling them of the mistake? I had heard all about the importance of saving face in the Orient and if I told them about this awkward situation would they be subjected to humiliation and embarrassment, with me as the cause?

Even worse, would they think I had tried to trick them, intentionally acting the part of an American exec so that I could pull off some fraudulent scheme?

I had reached another of those what-would-you-have done? moments. 

First off, I could have cut and run, just gone off at an optimal moment and without a word to a remote area, shot my rice-growing footage and left for home.  No muss no fuss; let them figure it out.

Or, as a second possibility, I could have adopted a very formal “Japanese” style, bowing numerous times to them and apologizing profusely for the misconception.  (Even though, as far as I could see, it was in no way my fault.)

Or I could have used more of a relaxed, “American” approach: “Say, you know, folks, there’s been sort of a mixup; I think you might find it kind of funny…”

Or, given the possibility that I might be regarded as a crook who planned the whole deal as some sort of illegal scheme, my first priority should have been, before they called the Japanese gendarmes, that they clearly understood this was not the case.

So the quiz this week is, how would you have handled this?




Roger Owen Green said...

Having had a number of my colleagues visit China several times, I would have let it go. The truth no only would have put you at a disadvantage, but your company as well, for "insulting" them.

Helen said...

I'd go with this scenario ... Or, as a second possibility, I could have adopted a very formal “Japanese” style, bowing numerous times to them and apologizing profusely for the misconception. (Even though, as far as I could see, it was in no way my fault.)

Your story reminds me of the hilarious Seinfeld episode with the Japanese sleeping in the bureau drawers, the oranges, Jerry rescuing the Japnese men with an ax, don't recall all of the details but it was definitely funny.

Theresa Milstein said...

Shotgun, shogun -- ha!

I would've done a lot of bowing. It reminds me of when I worked at a car insurance company. We had to apologize if another examiner made a mistake and we happened to take the call. It was all to make the customer feel better.

Kathe W. said...

I would probably take the "Japanese " approach and apologize profusely with deep bowing....over and over. What did you do?

naturgesetz said...

I think I'd opt for the "Japanese" style — apologizing even though it wasn't your fault.

Old Egg said...

Perhaps you should have spoken to one of the "aides" in conversation and told him you were not worthy of the attention being given you but that you would be proud to tell your company how well you were being treated, meanwhile dropping the name of the one of the executives of your company who you would be reporting back to and how honored the company would be.

Art said...

I cant even imagine being in that situation...
What did you do?

Unknown said...

What a story... what an experience too ....

I don't know how i would have reacted... knowing about their need to 'safe face'. Taking the blame for something i didn't do would not be an option for me though.

Thank you for sharing this story with us, i've enjoyed reading it. Being someone who never thinks in text but always in pictures, i've "seen" it before my eyes, i can imagine that you've must have felt akward at some times.

Still... i hope you only have pleasant memories of that time.

♫Mel☺dy♫ (ABC-W-Team)

Berowne said...

What a fine comment; thanx so much.

Leslie: said...

Cut and run - after excusing yourself (with lots of bowing) to use the facilities. lOl Can hardly wait to hear what you did.

abcw team

Photo Cache said...

I'll eat the sushi and thank them :)


Sharp Little Pencil said...

I would have acknowledged the mistake and kowtowed 'til it hurt my back. Otherwise, they might have found out the truth after you were gone and, in the "honor/shame" culture of the Japanese, really kicked themselves. And they would have been shamed by their bosses. So I would have taken the blame entirely and also I would have quietly spit the food into my napkin, because I HATE sushi. The texture grosses me out!


Arnoldo L. Romero, MLA said...

That is quite a predicament, especially in a foreign country. I believe I would thank the Japanese for their gracefulness, and explain the misunderstanding as carefully as possible. Then, I would call my superior to inform him/her of the misunderstanding. Other than that, pray - LOL! I can't wait to hear what you did!

Trubes said...

I would have carried out the charade and made a point of bowing profusely and thank them for their hospitality, making a point of saying you were not worthy of such attention, then taking the first possible opportunity to leave and carry on with your assignment!

Best wishes,
ABCW team.

Obsessivemom said...

Explain before they find out - that's what I'd have done. Besides, I'd do ANYTHING to get out of a sushi lunch.

Jae Rose said...

Well it would be impolite to refuse I suppose...a trip to the bathroom swiftly after lunch maybe?

Berowne said...

Especially if you don't know the Japanese word for "bathroom." :=)

Sheilagh Lee said...

I would have explained the mistake taking all the blame and then calling my superiors to explain the misunderstanding.

Lmkazmierczak said...

Well, your American way seemed the best to me, but after reading everyone's comments the Japanese bowing pro-fussily would be the better choice♪

Berowne said...

It's really quite interesting, the variety of possibilities suggested. Thanks for taking part.

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