Akemashite omedetou gozaimasu – Happy New Year! I’ve been back in Japan for a week now after a very relaxing, though active holiday in Australia, and it was fantastic catching up with everyone I was able to see. After nine months living in Japan, it was also very valuable to take a step back and get some perspective and reflection on how the last year has gone, and to set a game plan for the next stretch. Already, though, the Japanese-learning demons haunt me once again…
Some good news – I started the year with a win! As fans of Heroes will know, “yatta” means “I did it!”. For the canonical lyrical reference to yatta, please also see the craziest music video about a word ever. In a sign of the times, my favourite Japanese translation website also translated “yatta” as “w00t”. I don’t know whether to cheer or cry.
So, on to what I was yatta-ing about. I recently ordered a copy of Presentation Zen from Amazon.co.jp. As luck would have it, when my book arrived this morning, I was out. And when you miss a package delivery, this is what you get in your letterbox instead:
Oh dear. The last time I got one of these, I got one of the guys at work to help me reschedule the delivery time. This time, however, it was the beginning of a long weekend in Japan, and I was pretty keen to get my book, so I gave it a shot and rang their phone number.
Of course, there’s no English option. Here’s how the conversation went.
Pleasant Automated Female Voice: Konopigo arpeggio Pelican Delivery Company burble murble bumble honored customer. Speekle splort input your mobile phone number please. [Silence]
Me: (Slightly relieved that it sounds like I got the phone number correct, enter my phone number)
PAFV: Thank you. Mumble grackle confirm. (Reads my phone number back). Blurkle yes, press “sharpo” cabble. Blurkle no…
Me: (Presses the “sharp” (hash) key.)
PAFV: Hooble google gabble. Spackel input your quankle number please. [Silence]
Me: Err… (enters an important looking number on the delivery slip)
PAFV: Excuse me, hobble dobble bingle. Brangle doo. Rinka input again please. [Silence]
Me: Okay… (picks another important looking number)
PAFV: Thank you. Hooble gooble shooble. Rickle input your quijangle number please. [Silence]
Me: (Tries the first important-looking number again)
PAFV: Thank you. Wankle shamp gangleon blurn. One, today. Two, tomorrow, three…
PAFV: Potify graqua drangla, time spackel makel bobble. 12:00 to 14:00, press…
Me: (I cheat and use the handy timetable provided on the docket. At least I can read numbers.)
PAFV: Thank you. Bongle damgle yutter. Wera yuta kobina using chogo. [Disconnect].
Me: (Experiences a deep sense of uneasiness that I don’t know exactly what I just did, but I hope I didn’t order my book shredded or something).
Well, strike me down if I didn’t get a knock on my door at the appointed hour with the very book in question:
Hoora…. uh, w00t!
There’s nothing like moving to a foreign country with very foreign language to lower the “satisfying achievement” bar – often, to below ground level.
Now I’m off to read my book, whose delivery time I rescheduled all by myself, while drinking a drink whose name I cannot yet pronounce.