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Last week, I called a BMW dealer in the UK to order a part for my bike. It’s much cheaper to buy parts in Britain because BMW Japan has a monopoly here, and consequently they charge ridiculous prices.

I spoke to a young woman in the shop and explained what part I wanted. She took my credit card number, and then she asked me for the security number and the expiry date.

I told her the number, and then I said, “It expires in October 2017.” She replied, “What’s that in numbers?”

Obviously she was looking at a screen where the numbers are displayed “06/13” or “11/15,” but she wasn’t able to work out that October 2017 would be 10/17! I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt and presume that she would not normally ask such a stupid question, but I have to admit that I was a bit taken aback when she said it.

Anyway, that conversation gave me an idea for this week’s topic – stupid things that people say. If you have any experiences of people (including yourself, of course!) saying things that they probably would not have said if they had had time to think about it, (or maybe things that they would have said anyway!) please share them with us.

Look forward to hearing your stories.

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31 Comments

  1. Eric Kane on 2013年06月17日 at 13:24

    Worked at an amusement park stand. We sold 16oz cokes. That’s it. They were $1.00.

    A lady came up to me and asked, “How much is a dollar coke?”

    My jaw dropped and it felt like I stared at for her a minute…before her eyes opened wide and she said, “OH! Hehe…I’ll take two.”

    After an uncomfortable laugh and a slight hesitation on my part, she finally got her cokes.

    It cost $2 in case you’re wondering.



  2. David on 2013年06月17日 at 13:25

    Thanks Eric. At least she got it eventually!



  3. YU on 2013年06月17日 at 15:04

    Hi everyone,

    Japanese people usually ask my husband where he comes from. He answers, “I’m from Indonesia.” and then they say, “I’ve never been to Indonesia, but I’ve been to Bali.”
    It might be hard for you to believe this story, but it is really often the case!
    As you know, Bali is a part of Indonesia, but my husband always hesitates to say the fact to the people who don’t doubt that it belongs to another country because he doesn’t want to hurt their feelings.



  4. David on 2013年06月17日 at 15:33

    Thanks YU!

    I just remembered another one. When I was in the U.S. on holiday about twenty years ago, I got talking to a young American guy on a bus. He asked me where I was from, and I said, “England.” (I gave up saying “Wales” because no one had ever heard of it.) When he heard that, he said, “Oh, England! That’s where they speak French, right?”



  5. amo on 2013年06月17日 at 21:39

    Hi Eric,

    Thanks for sharing yours jaw-dropping story 🙂

    Hi YU,

    >It might be hard for you to believe this story, but it is really often the case!
    It’s not surprising at all. You know, when I told that I am from Okinawa and some people said “Oh, I’ve been there, I went to Yoron island!!”

    Hi David,

    >“Oh, England! That’s where they speak French, right?”

    Have you ever told us this story before? If not, why do I have the feeling that I heard this somewhere before?
    Sorry but nothing pop up in my mind at the moment. Let me tell you when something come to mind.

    Bye for now,
    amo

    PS. David,
    Thanks for the link. I had a look it. Your dream car is really cool!!
    >The problem is that I want one of my own now,
    Hahaha… Hope you could get one soon 😉



  6. amo on 2013年06月17日 at 21:55

    correction

    yours jaw-dropping story
    >your jaw-dropping story

    amo



  7. Fumie on 2013年06月17日 at 23:22

    Hi David and everyone,

    When I saw the title and the picture of this week’s topic, I thought David was going to suggesting us to talk about gaffe, stupid remarks by people like Osaka Mayor, Toru Hashimoto because it’s a timely topic.

    I want to share some stories.
    1. When my son was little, he took the milk from the fridge and didn’t put it back. So I said to him, milk is 足が早いso please put it back immediately. As you can guess, he doesn’t know this expression, so he said “Does milk have legs?”
    2. When we traveled to Okinawa, a woman at a shop asked my son then he was 4 or 5 years old, “僕、どこから来たの?where are you from?” and he answered “日本から来ました。I’m from Japan。” Okinawa is of course Japan, but it’s so different and he thought Okinawa was foreign country even thought people speak Japanese.
    3. When I took my son to a beauty parlour, a woman shampooed his hair and she asked, “Is there any place you feel itchy?” He said, “My legs are itchy.” Apparently, she asked whether he has itchy part in his head(scalp).
    4. When my son went to a dentist and a woman asked him, “何か変わったことなかったですか?and he said “席替えした。” People often omit subjects in Japanese so it’s confusing for young children or if you don’t know the situation. She was asking about the teeth.
    5. My eldest son recently started working at a Japanese restaurant. He is a dishwasher. There were several things he didn’t know the names.
    For example, 急須、湯のみ、とっくり、 おちょこ。When he heard おちょこ、he thought they serve chocolate along with tea or Sake. He is dumb like me.
    Nighty night!



  8. amo on 2013年06月17日 at 23:53

    Hi David,

    I forgot to tell you this in my last comment, but you haven’t closed the last entry.

    Good night Zzzzz.
    amo



  9. Toshio Saika on 2013年06月18日 at 09:07

    大変面白い話題です。がしかし少しの配慮の無さが誤解を招き印象を悪くします。
    今回の場合、女性店員が有効期限(年・月)を聞き、その答えが自分の期待した文言でなく、“It expires in October 2017.”と答えられたため すぐに本人の頭の中で10/17が浮かばず、逆質問でPCに記入されているように数字で行ってください。となったみたいです。
    この問題はネイティブな発音で英語の意味が即座に理解できなかった または”October”が何月の意味かを瞬時に判断できなかったと推測します。
    しかし女性店員は気点の利かない鷹揚な態度でお客さまに不快感を与えた。ショップとして接客する社員教育が不足していると感じました。個人の資質も上げる努力が必要な職種と感じます。
    余談ですがBMWのバイクのツーリングはは快敵ですか?



  10. David on 2013年06月18日 at 09:33

    Hi Toshio,

    Thanks for your comment. Nice to have you with us. Just to clarify, the woman I was talking to was British, so this was a conversation between two British people. I know we all say stupid things sometimes, but this woman said quite a few! At first, there was a problem with my order, so I emailed her. I waited, but she didn’t reply. A week later, I called her. She said she received my email, but because I didn’t write any of my contact details, she had no way of getting in touch with me. I said, “Why didn’t you just reply to the email?” She sounded surprised, and said, “Oh yes! I never thought of that!”

    Anyway, the bike is great, but I would never buy another BMW in Japan because of the dealers.



  11. Biwa on 2013年06月18日 at 10:23

    Hi everyone,

    I really enjoy reading all your funny stories!
    YU’s story reminded me of some of my friends asking me if Phuket was somewhere “in” Bali. Well, I can’t really talk because I didn’t know that Yoron belonged to Kagoshima until I read amo’s comment!

    My story is not funny at all, but something rather disgusting. Don’t you think shop attendants in Japan offer us too much unnecessary services?
    Not to mention the excessive packaging, but they also say “Let me carry your package to the exit!(お出口までお持ちします。)” I know they’re just trying to be polite, but I always have to say “No thanks, it’s not that heavy!” What’s more, they make over-polite bows at the exit for say, just buying a T-shirt. It’s really embarrassing, or are they trying to be sarcastic, instead?



  12. YU on 2013年06月18日 at 12:04

    Hi Fumie,

    I like your son’s stories!
    Kids often make fine jokes without realizing it.

    Before Children’s day, my son brought some 柏餅 home from his kindergarten. He told me that someone came to his classroom to give them to children.
    So, I asked him, “Where is s/he from? その人どこから来たの?”
    Actually, I meant どこの人?業者の人?それとも父母の会の役員の人?, but he just answered, “From left”.(左から)

    It seems that “the someone” entered the door on the left side!

    Hi Biwa and everyone,

    > I can’t really talk because I didn’t know that Yoron belonged to Kagoshima until I read amo’s comment!

    Don’t worry, I think many people(including me!) have the wrong ideas about the geography, but I’m not sure if the folowing case is also just a matter of 思い違い.

    A friend of mine has once asked me where my husband was from, so I answered he was from Indonesia. Then, she asked me if I cooked “curry” every day for him! I really didn’t know what to say next, but anyway, I corrected her mistake as gently as possible not to hurt her feelings.
    As you all guess, obviously she was mistaking Indonesia for India. Actually, she is not the only person who asked me the same question as hers. LOL!!

    Surprisingly, there are a lot of adults like her. It’s hard to say, but in the case of people like her, it’s no longer just a matter of 思い違い, but a matter of a lack of their basic scholastic abilities, I think.
    So, when I read about a young American guy David mentioned(who said people in England speak French), I thought he must have had the same problem as my friend’s. Or was he only joking to make friends with David?



  13. Biwa on 2013年06月18日 at 13:16

    Hi YU and everyone,

    >but he just answered, “From left”.(左から)

    I really love your son’s wit♪

    I just remebered what my elder son said when he was little. One night, he left some food unfinished on his plate, so I told him “Give it a try at least. If you waste food, heaven will punish you.(食べ物を粗末にすると罰があたるよ。which literally means “bachi=punishiment” will hit you)”
    He suddenly made a very painful expression on his face and asked “Does it hurt?”. As you can guess, he took the word “bachi” for the sound of something being hit strongly.



  14. David on 2013年06月18日 at 13:25

    Hi amo,

    Actually, I left that open on purpose because I posted a video of the car I rented, and I was waiting for people to write comments along the lines of “Oh my God! That is such a cool car!”

    Which it is 🙂 I’ll close it soon.

    Thanks for reminding me, though.



  15. YU on 2013年06月18日 at 15:45

    Hi David,

    May I ask you some questions?

    英訳問題

    わたしがこの学校の生徒だったころには1000人を超える生徒がいたものです

    Model answers :

    1. When I was a student in this school, there used to be more than a thousand students.

    2. There used to be over a thousand students when I was at this school.

    Students’ answer

    The school used to have more than a thousand students when I was a student in this school.

    ①この生徒の回答のように school を主語、have を述語にすることはできますか?

    ②①がOKの場合、最後の in this school の部分は取る、または何か変更したほうが良いですか?

    ③この生徒の回答への添削として
    When I was a student in this school, it used to have more than a thousand students.

    はどうかと思うのですが、間違っていますか?

    ④会社が提供する添削例のコメントの中に be in this school だと「この校舎の中にいる」という意味になってしまう、とありました。
    when I was in school で student という単語を使わなくても「学生だった頃は」を表現できるのは知っていますが、when I was in ‘this’ school と this を入れると、
    「この学校の生徒だった頃は」ではなく「この校舎の中にいた時」という意味になってしまいますか?



  16. amo on 2013年06月18日 at 22:11

    Hi David,

    >Actually, I left that open on purpose…

    Sorry I didn’t get your intention of that 🙁 I should’ve left my comment on the previous entry so I just did it.

    Good night and sweet dreams,
    amo



  17. David Barker on 2013年06月18日 at 22:59

    Hi YU,

    Sorry, that’s quite a long question, and I didn’t have time to answer today.

    1. When I was a student in this school, there used to be more than a thousand students.

    2. There used to be over a thousand students when I was at this school.

    Students’ answer

    The school used to have more than a thousand students when I was a student in this school.

    This is fine, but I wouldn’t repeat “school.” I would say, “The school used to have more than a thousand students when I was a student here.”

    ①この生徒の回答のように school を主語、have を述語にすることはできますか?

    Yes, that’s fine.

    ②①がOKの場合、最後の in this school の部分は取る、または何か変更したほうが良いですか?

    See above answer.

    ③この生徒の回答への添削として
    When I was a student in this school, it used to have more than a thousand students.

    That is also okay, but you don’t really need “used to.” You could just say, “When I was a student in this school, it had ….” “Used to” is not wrong, though.

    ④会社が提供する添削例のコメントの中に be in this school だと「この校舎の中にいる」という意味になってしまう、とありました。

    That is nonsense.

    when I was in school で student という単語を使わなくても「学生だった頃は」を表現できるのは知っていますが、when I was in ‘this’ school と this を入れると、
    「この学校の生徒だった頃は」ではなく「この校舎の中にいた時」という意味になってしまいますか?

    No. If you are in the school at the time of speaking, “In this school” is perfectly natural.



  18. YU on 2013年06月19日 at 11:19

    Hi David,

    Thank you for answering my questions when you were very busy.

    > This is fine, but I wouldn’t repeat “school.” I would say, “The school used to have more than a thousand students when I was a student here.”

    I’m glad to know that your suggestion was the same as my guess.

    > That is also okay, but you don’t really need “used to.” You could just say, “When I was a student in this school, it had ….” “Used to” is not wrong, though.

    I see. Finally I wrote the both for my students, thank you.

    > No. If you are in the school at the time of speaking, “In this school” is perfectly natural.

    I talked with the staff of my company this morning on the phone. She told me that she would discuss this matter with senior staff and they would probably change or delete the comment as you suggsted.



  19. Anne on 2013年06月19日 at 13:48

    Hi David and everyone,

    I really enjoyed reading your stories. Sorry to say, I can’t think of anything, so let me share a funny story that I heard from a friend of mine, instead. It’s more of a misunderstanding than a stupid thing people say.

    One day, a woman from a foreign country was invited to dinner by a Japanese couple. She was a beginner in Japanese. While they were having a great time over dinner, his wife was busy preparing food and serving dishes, so she didn’t sit at all.
    When the woman left the house , she said, “Thank you for inviting me and for the nice dinner, xxx-san(man’s name) and Oi-san(his wife).” The couple looked stunned.

    Can you guess why?
    I bet most of you have figured out the answer.

    While they were having dinner, the husband spoke to his wife many times saying, “Oi!.”
    In Japan, husbands sometimes address their wives with, “Oi!” instead of using their names; it is especially done by middle aged men and the older generation. Compared to the “Honey” that I hear in American dramas or shows, it’s not romantic at all!

    At my house, I sometimes speak to my husband as ,”Nee(ねえ)”, so that woman might have called my husband “Nee-san” if she would come to my house!



  20. Biwa on 2013年06月19日 at 13:49

    Hi everyone,

    I had a real “dumb” talk this morning.
    I went to Maruzen to get some books, and noticed that my Maruzen card had expired. So I told the register girl that I wanted to extend(?) it. Very naturally, she gave me an application form and said “Please fill this out.” I told her that I only wanted to extend it, and that I’ve already written exactly the same thing before. Then she said “Sorry, but we need your information.” I’m sure my face was full of question marks, but she didn’t seem to understand why. I had to tell her that they already “have” my information and nothing has changed. Eventually, she seemed to get what I meant, so she asked a senior staff what she should do. Can you guess what happened? The senior guy came and said “申し訳ありませんが一応決まりですので・・・。(Sorry, but it’s rule.)”

    I didn’t have enough time or energy to argue any more and I also wanted a 10% off, so I finally filled it out, but I wonder if people do this ridiculous thing without saying anything.



  21. Biwa on 2013年06月19日 at 13:55

    Hi Anne,

    Thank you for the funny story!
    I would never answer if my husband called me “Oi!”



  22. Anne on 2013年06月19日 at 14:05

    it’s me again.
    Just in case, Neesan means “elder sister.”
    I looked up the word “おい” in a web dictionary, and found several translations. Among them, I came across, “my dear girl.” My guess was “buddy.” I wonder if “my dear girl” is used in your daily life.

    Hi Biwa,
    >“申し訳ありませんが一応決まりですので・・・
    —I had the same experience as you! I don’t think this procedure works to secure the safety of the customers.



  23. Biwa on 2013年06月19日 at 14:18

    Hi Anne,

    >I don’t think this procedure works to secure the safety of the customers

    Me neither! Actually, it makes me feel what have they done with my information. And why did I have to fill the first one out after all???

    By the way, I think “Oi” would be transalted as “Hey!” I would be quite happy if my husband called me “my dear girl!”



  24. YU on 2013年06月19日 at 17:00

    Hi Biwa and Anne,

    I think that’s ridiculous, too, but as you know, for any companies having information of over three thousand customers(I think it was 3000!) are required to care of it by law. Each company can decide the data storage periods at their discretion. So, I suspect that Maruzen’s data storage period for your personal information was just over and they didn’t have your private information any more, but the senior staff you talked with felt tired of explaining it to you, so he just said, “申し訳ありませんが一応決まりですので”. This is just my imagination, though.

    Having said that, in any case, I think they should have explained their circumstances in detail to you not to cause you to distrust their data management systems!



  25. Fumie on 2013年06月20日 at 06:06

    Hi Eric and Toshio,

    Nice to have you with us. Eric, thanks for sharing us an intersting story. I may not be dumb that much, but I sometimes say dumb things.

    Hi Anne,

    I like your story very much. Oi-san and Nee-san: that’s hilarious!



  26. Anne on 2013年06月20日 at 08:35

    Hi Biwa and YU,

    >any companies having information of over three thousand customers(I think it was 3000!) are required to care of it by law. —Thanks for the information.

    Hi Biwa,
    >I think “Oi” would be translated as “Hey!” —Me,too. I often see people use the word “Hey!” on the web. I always wonder what is the difference in nuance between “Hi!” and “Hey!” other than the latter is more casual. At least, I don’t think I will use “Hey!.”

    Hi Eric and Toshio,

    Nice to have you with us.
    >Eric, your story is funny, but I don’t think I can laugh out that woman. Actually, I sometimes do and say something stupid ‘unconsciously’, but the problem is I don’t remember I have done(did?)!



  27. Manami on 2013年06月20日 at 16:06

    Hi,everyone.
    I also enjoyed readying your funny stories. I liked Fumie and YU’s children’s stories. Generaly speaking,children sometimes say uniqu things that we don’t expected. They are really emginative. That’s one of the reason I like children 🙂 ( I used to be a child,too …)

    I thought I had to learn more about the world geography and countries when I read YU’s story. (Bari/Indnesia)

    I tried to remember a similar experience to the today’s topic but I couldon’t.
    Thank you for your stories.



  28. Mika on 2013年06月20日 at 17:00

    Hi David and everyone,

    When I was a child, I had no sense of vegetables. This is a well-known story in my family about taro which was one of the vegetables cooked in soy sauce, and my sister likes to share it with everybody.
    When I was around ten years old, my mother ordered me to go and buy some ginger for her at the store. About 30 minutes later, I returned home in triumph, but she was surprised because there were three taros in a paper bag. I excused, “You know, the shape and the size of these taros are very similar to ginger.”
    Suddenly my sister cut in on our conversation and said to me, “No! They are completely different vegetables!” I answered back, “Aren’t they the same?” Then my mother asked me, “Didn’t the lady in the shop ask you any questions?” I replied, “No! Nothing special! She asked me, ‘Anything else?’ So I replied, ‘That’s all,’ and she put these vegetables in this bag.” My sister said teasingly, “What can we make with only three taros!” I answered back not to be outdone by her, “I thought these were exactly the ones you needed!” They laughed out loud again at my reply. I didn’t try to make any more excuses and sulked. I don’t remember if my sister went to the store to buy ginger or not.
    I think that you might have done the same thing if you were me.



  29. YU on 2013年06月20日 at 18:41

    Hi everyone,

    I’ve seen people asking, “How much is this? ” to the staff at the 100yen shop a couple of times.
    At first I thought they were making fun of the staff or just stupid, but I realized that some of the goods such as canned juice or rollipops were sold two or three for 100yen.
    In addition to that, they sell some goods for 200yen, 300yen or 500yen these days, so actually they are no longer 100yen shops.



  30. Biwa on 2013年06月20日 at 22:01

    Hi YU and Anne,

    I didn’t know about the data storage period, either. Thanks, YU! 🙂
    Well, since my card expired a month ago, I (probably!) have to admit that the Maruzen staffs were doing the right thing. However, since they found my personal data while we were talking, it wasn’t deleted at least. If they had had a bit of tact, I would have felt much happier. Maybe I’m just a grumpy old woman, though.. 🙁

    Hi Mika,

    I mistook spring onions(万能ねぎ)for Chinese chives(ニラ) when I was already in highschool!



  31. John Spiri on 2013年07月02日 at 05:44

    Just a guess, but perhaps she needed to have the customer state the security code in the exact way it’s written on the cc. A procedural thing rather than a dumb statement. Or, said another way, procedures can lead to dumb statements!



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