My Phobia

Hi there! Long time no see!!! How have you been? I’ve been doing well, and I returned to Japan from Canada a couple of weeks ago.

Do you have phobias? Today I want to share my phobia with you. Before studying conversational English and studying abroad in the States, I hadn’t realized that I’m scared of some small talk. Seriously, I’m scared of small talk.

When I go to the States, people love speaking to STRANGERS. You receive a lot of small talk everywhere. Since we Japanese people are not good at small talk like American people do, I have no idea how I response it. It always makes me very nervous. You might not understand what I’m talking about. All right. I’m picking up some examples for you.

You are in a Wal-Mart and waiting for your turn in a line. When you get your turn, a casher speaks to you, “Hello? What’s up? Today is really pretty, isn’t it?”. I have no clue how I should response because in Japan we don’t receive such small talk at cashers. When we go to a restaurant, a waitress/waiter are more pushy. They love talking to us. Even though we order our meals, they sometimes come to our table and ask “Everything is OK? Don’t you want anything else? Did you watch a game last night? Bula bula bula………”. I know they show kindness and niceness to us customers to get more tips, but we don’t have tips in Japan. We don’t need such the service at the restaurants.

I still remember that when I was a kid, we had a first MacDonald in our small town. I was scared of ordering there because we had received small talk from an employee like that “Anything else? ” with a big smile. It was so weired for me. Since I was not used to it, I couldn’t refuse to order something else. I tended to spend more money.

As thinking about my experience at the MacDonald, I think American fast restaurants brought small talk to Japan with their fast foods. Now, I can handle it in Japanese, but I’m not good at it in my second language. I sometimes can’t response well when I soddenly receive unexpected questions from strangers at shops, restaurants, airplanes or wherever.

I hope after improving my speaking skills, I can response without feeling any stress.


12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. jeffowens
    Jun 17, 2014 @ 13:10:54

    It think you mean the waitress/ waiter is “pushy” not “pussy.” (Pussy is kind of a bad word.)


  2. WC
    Jun 17, 2014 @ 13:58:59

    It’s okay, we don’t always handle small talk well, and we’re quite used to it. 🙂 It’s a pretty common thing to have someone say something polite like “How are you?” and get an answer that doesn’t make sense because they were expecting a different small talk question.

    I’m surprised to learn you don’t have it, though.

    However, you are absolutely correct about “Anything else?” being a way to get you to buy more. It’s designed to make sure the customer doesn’t leave the store without everything they came in for. They also ask, “Did you find everything you were looking for today?” to help with that.

    McDonald’s famous “Would you like fries with that?” is called an “upsell” and is designed to get you to buy something you didn’t order. We do it in a lot of retail situations here in the US.

    Annette and I are very much looking forward to visiting Japan in early September. We’ve decided to spend a lot of time at Tokyo Disney, and the rest of the time in Tokyo itself. I think that will help both of us deal with the culture shock when we arrive, and then venture out into totally new territory. 🙂 We’re so excited about it.

    Annette had quite a bit of fun hearing me try to pronounce the katakana from the restaurant menus on Disney’s website. As usual, I’m surprised how much is actually in English for things like that. I can’t wait to see how it all feels when we’re standing there. 🙂


    • yumi
      Jun 17, 2014 @ 23:23:45

      Hi, William-san.

      Long time no talk!! Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving the comment!!! Yes, compared to American people, we don’t have such kind of small talk in Japan. We don’t speak to strangers like you, American people. So, it makes me very nervous.

      I’m happy that you two come to Japan! I’m looking forward to seeing you in person in Orland!! I’m also looking forward to listening to your adventures in Tokyo. You will learn a lot of things about Japan and will be surprised at our culture, I’m sure, lol.


  3. WC
    Jun 17, 2014 @ 14:02:40

    Oh, phobias!

    Annette has arachnophobia, the fear of spiders. I have acrophobia (fear of heights) and aquaphobia (fear of water). Of course, not *all* water, just enough water to swim in. 🙂 I’m not sure about the fear of heights, but the fear of water comes from almost drowning a couple times as a kid. I still remember the last time rather vividly, and I’ve since taught myself to swim as a way to conquer it.


    • yumi
      Jun 17, 2014 @ 23:29:15

      Haha, both you two’s phobias are cute! My friend from Italy also has the same phobia as Annette. Does she hate animated spiders too? Can’t her watch a movie like Charlotte’s web?

      Swimming. I picked up my kitty last year and he was almost drowning as well. I’m sure my kitty has the phobia if cats have those ones, lol


      • yumi
        Jun 17, 2014 @ 23:53:38

        Oh, and I want to add that my hubby has acrophobia too. He doesn’t like driving high way, lol. When we lived in Kyusyu, he was so scared of driving there.

  4. chezzyr
    Jul 21, 2014 @ 11:15:10

    Yumi, if you are nervous about ‘small talk’ in north America etc, you might FAINT if you come to Australia haha. It really is quite common down under. Tips are not standard practice in Australia. Some people might choose to give a tip and sometimes there might be a jar at the cash register but there is no expectation.


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