Thursday, August 25, 2011

Lost in Translation


All we wanted was a Mos Burger, or eight Mos Burgers as we traveled back from our two day beach excursion. Covered with salt, sand and the unpleasant memories of a banana boat ride (see this post). Four hungry adults and four impatient children embarked on our first attempt of "fast food."

Let me explain, ordering food at a Japanese restaurant be it fast food or otherwise, is an ordeal, think third base coach and hand gestures (nodding, crotch grabbing and the proverbial inner arm slap back and forth and back and forth). Lots of pointing and smiling and finally as your narrowed ass waitress walks away you just hope against hope you ordered the chicken fried rice and not the fried rice with pork intestines and a side of "what in the hell is this". Of course, the servers, they try, and every once again someone will pull out the "handicapped menu", a menu translated in English. Because if that doesn't make you feel like you rode in on the short bus then the blank looks, with toothy smiles will. Makes you want to say aloud, "Beans and Franks" and walk in circles.

Let me also explain, in Japan, food comes in waves, when it it ready, not altogether. Sure this alleviate heat lamps, but mostly it leads to envy and resentment. While you are waiting, your friend somehow won the dinner lottery and finds themselves knee deep into a plate of Yakisoba and not only are they not paying attention to the drool dripping from your chin but they just look so damn smug enjoying their meal.

I am getting there...

So we order off the "special English menu" at the counter of Mos Burger. Our fries come out first along with our drinks and our teenie tiny plate of ketchup (which deserves another post). Four burgers are delivered, four are not, 10 minutes pass, 20, then 30 minutes. Now normally this would be an easy fix, "Excuse me, we are missing four burgers. Can you check on these for us?"

Instead, what went down is what I like to call, the Great Hamburger Emergency...

US Waiving to get attention (you hoo over here, obnoxious Americans, no we are not dancing we are trying to get your attention)
Grab menu, point at Hamburger, shaking head, no (we did not get)


CUTE LITTLE MOS EMPLOYEE Nods "hai, hai" (yes, yes) while taking steps backward to her safe place/ counter.

US We exchange a glance, Oh Shit, I think we just ordered another burger. Speaking now "No, no, no we didn't get any burgers, zero" (making a giant zero with our hands) only four. We are now causing an incident.

CUTE LITTLE MOS EMPLOYEE Crickets...and a blank stare.

US We all jump in, all four adults begin to point and gesture, which is now an all out clusterf#$%, we are all pointing, slapping arms, four fingers, four four four "we received four fries, shaking head no hamburgers." I think someone does the "international" symbol for death with a swift hand gesture across the neck.

CUTE LITTLE MOS EMPLOYEE She walks even further backwards, bowing and smiling. But inside I can tell she is waiting for the short bus to drive up to pick us all up, then she is going to lock herself in the meat freezer and enjoy a tallboy Orion.

US Did we just order four more burgers or tell her that we were going to off her?

This continues until my brilliant daughter grabs the smart phone downloads a Google Translation application, burgers are received and all is right with the world...for now.

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