Thursday, December 31, 2009

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Self Service

I thought I knew how to pump my own gas.

Most gas stations in Japan are full service, so usually all I have to do to fill my tank is hand over my Idemitsu card, smile, and say "hai." But today we happened to pull into a station that was self service. No problem, right? I pump my own gas back home all the time.

First, I tried to find the place to scan my card. There were a bunch of weird screens with Kanji and pictures of a hand, so I stood there trying to flash my card in front of of those, but nothing happened. Finally, I went inside and one of the clerks told me (or really the idea was communicated extra-linguistically) that we had to pump the gas first, then pay. OK. No problem.

So there was a red, a yellow, and a green pump. Everything was written in Japanese, but I noticed that the green pump was the cheapest, so I went with that one. The clerk immediately came on the little speaker and started yelling in Japanese, which sounded to me like "HimmaJimmaJammaWammaBammaBuyThisThing!!!" Then he ran out and stopped the pump. Apparently I had just put 3 liters of diesel into my car.

He said something that we didn't understand and then turned around to go inside. I saw that the red pump said "regyura" in Katakana (I should have looked more closely in the first place) so I took it out. Then the clerk ran out yelling at us again. I guess what he had said earlier was, "You have to pay for the diesel before you can pump the regular!"

We went inside and the clerk harangued us in Japanese for putting diesel into a car that clearly couldn't handle it. He kept asking us, "Why diesel?" (Oh, now you speak English!) And we tried to explain in our hella-broken Japanese that we can't read Japanese (which should have been pretty obvious from the get go). Then he scanned our card and saw that we were from GLC and he got even madder. I guess maybe he knows Mr. Horiguchi.

At this point the clerk thought we were just complete morons. I mean, really, who fucks up pumping their own gas? So he went back outside with us and insisted on pumping the regular himself, which also gave him the opportunity to explain to us in Japanglish that diesel will hurt our car's engine. (Apparently it makes it go "gah chung gah chung")

Finally, our tank was full. We went in and paid and said "arigato gozaimashta" (thank you very much for what you did for us) but he just ignored us. He was pretty pissed at the whole situation.

Epilogue: The next time a foreigner seems like a moron to you, stop and think for a second. Maybe he knows that you can't put diesel into a regular car, but he just can't read English.