Sorry, jumping in here

I originally wrote this as a comment under Jesse's previous posting, but it got me thinking so much that I thought I should bring it to the front page.

There is an underlying thread here. Jesse commented on the way many Japanese people perceive us, and a few weeks back Nirav made a similar observation about the "English leech" he encountered.

I think it is important to talk about our roles, our rights, and general human decency in Japan. I wholeheartedly disagree with staring. Having lived in Japan before, and planning to stay here longer, when someone approaches me from a far distance and proceeds to stare at me, not in an “I am interested about you” way, but in the same manner one would stare at an animal in the zoo ... that is what bothers me. I am making a contribution to society. I am a teacher, and I take my job seriously. Do not look at me like an animal, that isn’t too much to ask. Is it?

Lisa, also made a good comment about children's curiosity, and our responsibility as adults, but there are 2 points not taken into consideration. One: A majority of the time it is not children staring, but other full grown adults, and two: rudeness and curiosity are two entirely different things.

Japanese people would never dream of starring at each other the way they do to foreigners. (I know the phrase Japanese people can be over-generalizing, but there is some truth to it.)

I am the king of Sabetsu. Just because you speak a different language does not make you less of a person.

How would you have handled this situation ...

I went to JR to buy a train ticket to Nagoya. I needed a detailed receipt for reimbursement when I arrive at my destination. I asked the attendant in Japanese how much the ticket was, and she replied 3.6 man ... that's different from the 2.5 man posted on the Japanese website. When I inquired about the 2.5 price, she said ...

"Oh you wanted the discount ticket?"

sigh, sure, can I have the discounted ticket ... anyway, she begins to process my request and asks for my name, this is where things turn for the worse.

Salesperson: "May I have your name?"
Me: Ni-ko-ra-su De-ru-gu-re-go
Her: (bursts in to laughter)
Me: Excuse me is something wrong?
Her: Your name, it's just so ... funny ... (more laughter)
Me: My name is not funny.

While she is laughing, she misspells my name in katakana.

Me: Excuse me, you have misspelled my name.
Her: It's okay.
Me: No, it's not okay. I need it spelled correctly for reimbursement.
Her: No really it's okay.
Me: You aren't listening to me. It's not okay.
Her: Fine, I will change it.

She rewrites it, and makes the same mistake ... still laughing. I am completely flustered and feel subhuman at this point. This woman is disrespecting my name. My identity is a source of humor for her. Call me over dramatic, but things like this happen more than I would care for ...

Me: You've made the same mistake again.
Her: Really, it's fine.
Me: No it's not.

and then I've said one of the rudest things I've said in Japan. I'm not proud and I feel bad ... but I was flustered.

Me: You can read and write Katakana, can’t you???

The whole conversation fell apart. She no longer laughed at my name, instead wanted to burn me with lasers or something, I don't know. I should not have met rudeness with more rudeness, but I think she won't laugh a foreigner’s funny name again ...