While we waited on the computer guy to look at and discuss our software problems, he excused himself to answer the phone.
“My greatest apologies,” he said, “I must answer this and I will be right back with you.”
He returned to the caller, listened for a moment and then spoke into the receiver, “My greatest apologies but I cannot buy your product at this time. With your permission, however, I will write down your phone number and give it to any of my clients who might be interested in this. Will this be acceptable?”
He came back to us with, “My greatest apologies. Thank you for your kind patience.”
Kenneth the computer whiz is from Japan. He speaks English with no discernible trace of an accent. But his phraseology is a little formal, awkward in laid-back Texas.
My husband and I smiled and whispered. We couldn’t quite believe Kenneth was apologizing to one of those pesky salesmen.
After doing fantastic work for us and getting to know Dan and me a little better, our new computer geek shared some of his personal story.
How did a black man, over six feet tall, who looks like a linebacker and speaks perfect American English, come to live in Japan so long he became ingrained in the language and culture? His American father and Japanese mother moved there when he was five years old.
So why immigrate to the U.S.? Why Texas? He was born here!
When we complimented his grasp of “our” language, Kenneth told us he longs for the day when people no longer ask him, “Where you from?” We took it upon ourselves to coach.
“Don’t apologize so profusely,” I advised. If you feel you must, just say, ‘I’m sorry.’”
Kenneth seemed to understand and appreciate the help, even as he explained about the importance of politeness in Japanese society.
Dan taught him about “y’all,” a colloquialism particular to the South and as common as cactus in Texas. He caught right on to that one and had us giggling at how many times he could use it in a paragraph.
“I apologize greatly for making y’all wait so long but y’all have been wonderful about it and I really do appreciate y’all.”
We told Kenneth how pleased we were with his service by plugging his Facebook page and leaving a Google review. Without apology, we think he’s going to fit right into Texas, Japanese style. He just needs a hat.