Thursday, May 19, 2011

Shooting Range Herp n' Derp

Disclaimer: The following is NOT meant to promote racial hatred/ridicule. I thought this little vignette to be of interest to anime fans & anyone else interested in "all things Japan".
                                          Shooting Range Herp n' Derp


                                                                Jay Agan

      Back in the 90s I worked at a gun store/pistol range in Powell, Ohio. Due to the varied corporate/industrial infrastructure of Central Ohio & the uniqueness of my workplace, I got to meet a lot of interesting folks. Some of whom were from Japan.

      It was during this time I collected comic books (Manga sounds like some kind of fruit.), & was in my VHS heyday. Because of this I got the idea to study Japanese. With a workbook & flashcards made out of 3x5s, I was able to build up a vocabulary of about 500 words & phrases in less than 3 months.

      Japanese is a surprisingly easy language to learn. Half of what I learned was actually "mispronounced" English (Don't use V,L,F & Th sounds & put vowel sounds between consonants.). Couple it with a "sideways" sentence structure & there you have it: You build up a vocabulary & think like Yoda ..... or ..... Vocabulary build up you & Yoda like think.

      Of course I didn't have a great command of the language. It was enough I could watch a movie & not need the subtitles. I remember viewing a showing of My Neighbor Totoro at a MARCON convention in Columbus & not having any problems with what was being said (For some reason, it didn't have subtitles but was able to follow along quite well.).

      Needless to say, I had plenty of opportunity to try it out on unsuspecting customers at work ..... & commit a faux pas here & there. The only thing funnier than greeting a Chinese person (OOPS!) with "konichiwa" is the strange look in return. (Usually I can tell the various ethnicities apart. I still made mistakes.) I learned early to wait until one spoke to another before going baka.

      This also worked in reverse. Though English is taught in their schools & they take courses by their various companies before coming here for their two/three year hitch, some still have a little trouble with the lingo. This lead to more than one amusing incident at work.

      Not meaning to get off the track, but on Tuesday, the beginning of my work week, the "giggle button" on me was rather hard to find. By Sunday, I could be "touched" anywhere & I'd explode.

      So in he comes. Typical "salaryman" type (Business suit, hair proportionly parted, etc.). Obviously never held a gun in his life. Eyes wide, staring all over the shop, trying to comprehend the scene (These crazy, gaijin Americans really DO like guns!).

      After a minute or so, he approached the counter &, I kid you not, the wide eyed innocent asked in a very sincere voice & expression:

      "Can ..... I ..... get ..... shot ..... here?"

      Knowing it's not polite to go off laughing/howling in someones' face, I immediately excused myself, guts seizing up, & hurried to the back room a few steps away. It hurts bad enough when I can laugh out loud, but to suppress it? Auuuugh! Painful!

      There I am, jumping up & down, gasping for air, excruciating pain in both sides shooting spikes through me. Man! It felt like I was getting the krap beat out of me, it hurt so bad.

      Talk about asking for it! All I could think of was:

      "Sure! We aim to please! (draws out the .45) Hold still!"

      "Honest officer! You CAN'T arrest me! He wanted it! Really!"

      Getting as much out of my system in as short a time as possible, I grabbed the Kanji/Hirugana/Katakana range rules sheet (Someone from the Marysville Honda plant had it made up for us.) & took it to the gentleman at the counter. He seemed quite happy to see it & read it intently, not noticing my facial contortions as the shakes & giggles started coming back in full force. It was a good thing he took his time reading it. I was able to return to the back room, "redrain" myself & collect my fragile composure.

      I was finally settled down enough to answer questions with a straight(?) face & set him up for the range: .38, box of ammo, eye/ear protection, etc. & getting the range use agreement signed. After spending about 10 minutes with him on the range I left him to himself watching as closely/discreetly as possible.

      He seemed to thouroughly enjoy himself & left satisfied. That made two of us.

      My sides hurt all the next day.

      I would like to thank Weatherly Hardy for explaining to me the meaning of herp derp.

                                          Article copyright © 5-19-2011 Jay Agan

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