Bubastis offends Japan

Some japanese guys were in the store today; they were doing some DIY so needed a few things. One item they needed, but didnt have the english to ask for, was sandpaper. After a while, I realised what they needed and fetched it.
I was asked “Ah! What do you call this?” to which I replied “Sandpaper”.
Nods all round. This is where I should have left it. But I continued. “You know, sandpaper… Sand on… Sand off…”

One guy got pissed off and left. The rest gave weak smiles. I felt like an asshole.

That’s good.

It reminds me of the time I was on my second date with a girl. She was black, I am white.
When talking about restaurants and food we like I talked about how I love southern style BBQ. I then said “You must know a good barbecue place.” As soon as I said it I just thought how asinine and prejudiced that was. Like saying to an asian “You must know a good chinese place around here.”
She didn’t take it that way… but I soon found out that she had no idea what good bbq was… the place she took me was the souther bbq equivalent of Applebees.

Quite right, so you should.

It’s “Wax on, wax off.” “Sand on, sand off” makes no sense.

I guess I don’t get it. Why would sand on…sand off be offensive?

In any case why would their inability to understand English make something you said an insult?

I don’t understand either the *sand on/off * or the *wax on/off * version.

Next time say “Right the circle, left the circle…”. Not that that’s any better, but at least it’s accurate.

It’s a reference to Mr. Miyagi’s fractured English in Karate Kid. It’s vaguely humorous, but also thinly veiled racism and certainly not something you’d want to say to people you don’t know from Adam.

For car, wax on, wax off.
For floor, sand on, sand off.

You have much to learn, otto-san.

I wear my racism on my sleeve, thank you very much.

For floor, it’s just “sand floor.” There is no “sand on, sand off” in the movie.

If nothing else, this thread is an excellent example of MPSIMS.

So, they didn’t know English well enough to know the word for “sandpaper”, and yet with a four-word English phrase (involving only the word “sand” in the same sense as “sandpaper”, plus two trivial particles, no less) you were able not only to elicit in their heads a relatively obscure reference to an American movie, but also to do so clearly enough that they knew it was appropriate to take offense? :confused:

Did you do the hand movements, too, or something?

So obscure that many people on this board didn’t even get the reference (including myself) . I was kind of wondering if they were telepathic or something.

Otto, don’t you remember when Mr. Miyagi started a flooring business to raise money for the karate tournament? There was an extended montage of Ralph Macchio sanding wood panels, coughing and staining…it was set to some Chicago song, but I forget which one…

This thread is making me feel very old. How can there be people in the world that don’t instantly understand that reference?

(Sheepishly looks at floor…)

I’m getting there. :wink:

Maybe thats what offended them; I misquoted!

Maybe thats what offended them; I misquoted!

And the accent? Please tell me you did the accent?

Wait! Do you look like Billy Zabka?