First, let me tell you some background about it all. Sorry.
Last year, Sal and I made our journey to Tokyo for the Tokyo Game Show (TGS). It was my first time in Japan (what can I say, I’m lazy), and I was totally out of my depth. My Japanese vocabulary was limited to a handful of words I learned from anime…and most of them can’t be used in polite conversation.
You can see where this is going right?
Today, I’ll share a tale of one of our adventures. Don’t worry…there’s a lot more where this came from. I swear to you, every single bit of this is true. I don’t see a point in lying or making stuff up anyways. It’s just more work for me.
Anyways, I’ve always heard that Japanese people are quite humble but to actually witness it, is a different story.
Everything you’ve heard about or seen in the movies? It’s all true. Everything. Japanese people are that polite.
In the trains, the passengers were remarkably silent and considerate of others. On the streets, there wasn’t a single pedestrian who would be eating as he walked. An old lady let me pass in front of her when I was reaching for a snack in one of the stores. The McDonalds’ cashier (a cute Japanese lady) was very polite (though laughing all the way) when I tried to tell her I wanted 5 fillet’o’fishes because I’m Muslim…and Sal was too lazy to make his way to the kebab place we usually frequent in Chiba.
Little things like these fascinated me especially when I was comparing it to Singapore.
All these incidents were definite eyeopeners, but there was one that’ll stick with me forever. For Sal too…though I bet it’ll be for very different reasons with him.
While I have a ton of TGS stories from TGS itself (like how Sal screwed me out of meeting Keanu Reeves because he wanted a t-shirt), this particular tale takes place after the convention.
With business days over, Sal and I decided to hit Tokyo to do some shopping. Like the geeks that we are, we decided to take the train from Chiba down to Akihabara.
It was like a pilgrimage to Mecca. Like the Crusaders journeying to the Holy Land. Sal had a damn list of crap he wanted to buy. I on the other hand, had a list of crap my brothers wanted me to buy. Even on holiday I’m a slave.
Sal wanted to buy Gundams. Lots and lots of them. The fool actually broke down and went insane in Akiba. By the end of the first day, he could barely walk! Ok…to be fair that’s due to a number of things but the tons of crap he bought definitely contributed.
By now, it should be evident that Sal and I are hardcore toy collectors who are regularly trying to sabotage one another. I regularly buy Hot Toys (I have an adverse allergy to saving money) and Sal burns cash like water with every Transformers Masterpiece release. Hell, he’s so insane he bought two of the Sentinels from HasLab.
One of the places we hit up was the physical store of otaku goods website, AmiAmi. The store was right off the main road, so finding it was no issue. Sal climbing up the flights of stairs needing to reach it was.
I kid you not, he nearly died climbing up the stairs to the 3rd and 4th floors. Don’t take the lift he said. He can make it he said. He almost didn’t.
With Sal red as a beet and my day made from laughing at him all the way up, we finally reached the 3rd floor, where AmiAmi’s second outlet was located.
Sal literally dragged himself in off the stairwell.
I guess he figured if he was going to die, it might as well be surrounded by toys. Or something. I never know what’s going on in Sal’s head, and I don’t want to. It’s too scary.
So while Sal was huffing and puffing like the Big Bad Wolf, I decided to scout out the store without him. The store’s not that big, but with figures surrounding me on all sides I was lost to the world.
I could hear Sal panting somewhere in the background but I didn’t pay much attention. I figured it was when that panting stopped that I should be worried.
So here’s when the crap went down.
With Sal was nowhere in sight, and I was enthralled and looking at the various Batman figures when I accidentally bumped into another person.
The dude was a Japanese male who was there shopping as well.
Fully aware, that the mistake was of my own doing, I apologised. I even bowed…I didn’t know why I did that but I don’t know why my body does most of the things it does anyway.
Despite knowing that it’s not his fault, the man decided to bow and apologise as well.
Now, I’m the type of person who says sorry too much for everything. Even if I have to cut my way through a line, I’d sorry instead of ‘Excuse Me’. Mama Ibrahim didn’t raise no rude kids.
Now, the guy didn’t have to apologise again after but somehow or other, he still chose to. Why? I have no idea. Japanese politeness I guess?
So I did the only logical thing at that moment, I bowed and apologised again to show the man that it’s clearly my fault.
However, it didn’t end there.
The man decided to bow again and apologise, and I continued to reply in kind by doing the same thing. I couldn’t stop it because here was this dude who was doing nothing wrong saying ‘Sorry!’ to me, the guy who did do him wrong!
That led the man and me into a loop of saying sorry to one another for at least five minutes! I kid you not. We were there for awhile. Just me and the poor fellow. Looking at each other in this cramped toy aisle smack in the middle of Akiba. Bowing and saying ‘Sorry’ over and over.
By this time, Sal’s miraculously recovered and was in the next aisle over, looking at some Neca figures. He later told me he heard the initial exchange, but instead of heading on over to see what the fuss was about, he just parted some toys so he could look in on me…and giggled. He was watching every damn minute of it from his little peephole between the boxes and he was enjoying it!
Here I was, apologising over and over to this dude and all Sal did was giggle and watch. He’s evil. You know that by now right? He simply lives to make my life miserable. This was a prime opportunity and he wasn’t about to let that slip by without me suffering.
I guess he got tired of it after awhile because he finally showed up to ‘find out’ what was going on, which led to the man saying his final, skittish ‘Sorry’. His honor restored, his ancestors pleased, the man quickly went away without letting me reply with my own ‘Sorry!’, a mistake that shames me to this day.
With the dude gone, my guilt of not being able to say my ‘Sorry!’ overwhelmed me. Sal was laughing uncontrollably, he didn’t give a hoot. The trauma I went through was just entertainment to his cold, wretched heart.
You know…to this day, I feel bad for allowing that guy to apologise for something that he hadn’t done.
Perhaps someday, this tale will continue and I’ll get my chance to apologise once more.