You Call That a Pan?


I always have a list of things I want to write up, so lack of ideas is never the cause of failing to post. My current list of material for blogging contains items that need lots of research or photos to be taken and uploaded, which takes time. Sometimes, when I’m feeling a little pressured, I just like to have a little blurb to post, but that’s not always possible. Today; however, it is!

When I took the job in Ichishi (一志町) last year, I had to move to my predecessor’s apartment, which was rented by the Board of Ed. He had a lot of furniture and household items that he didn’t want to ship to America or dump, so he gave me a price to buy everything from him. I took the deal which made sure I had halfway decent video equipment, but also meant I took on some mediocre junk along with it. One good item was a little toaster oven, but the pan inside was quite fouled from use: un-cleanably so.

Recently, I have taken on the chore of replacing the pan. Several months ago I had started the process by taking the pan (in a plastic bag) with me to a home store. The service manager had told me they don’t sell those parts, but they could order one for me… if I had the model number of the oven. That was enough for me to shelf the activity for awhile, but I made a mental note. With my reawakened interest in getting everything ship-shape, I gathered several errands together and headed for that part of town. Most of my other chores were a big success, but I ran into a log jam.

A surprisingly harsh woman was handling the service counter. I say surprisingly because, in Japan women working in service are usually extremely polite; and, even in the face of an insurmountable problem, will express a desire to help. My “helper” wanted to know all sorts of information about when and where I bought my unit. She didn’t seem to care a whit about the model number, and was very insistent that there was no way to order a part unless the two conditions – a) they currently carry that model and b) I bought the oven at their branch – were met. I explained very clearly that a member of her staff in charge of service had told me otherwise and just kept getting shut down. I was a little worked up as I walked out of the store planning not to return. My desire was to ask for a manager to get things straight, but I had no time before my next appointment and left defeated.

My local home store is smallish and not so well stocked, but I decided to give them a try. I prefer doing business with a store within a walk or bike ride anyhow. This is where the comedy begins. We walked to the department with toaster ovens and, finding a similar model, I pulled out the pan and informed the clerk that was what I wanted. I kept calling it a パン and she kept calling it a トレー, those being the Japanese sounding way to say “pan” and “tray”, which are widely used now. I requested that first they find out if they can order for my model and how much it cost, and then check with me about ordering.

The next day I got a cheerful call with a price. I requested they order it and I got the response that they found the price, but were not certain if they could order it. I told them to please find out and to order it directly, if possible. Again, a speedy response came the next day, “Your tray has arrived.” I rushed to the store with a tape measure to check the size. As I was measuring it, I was suddenly struck by the fact that I was not measuring a pan – it was the wire grill on which the pan would rest. They were very apologetic and assured me that it would be reordered (see #7 and 8). We discussed which part I needed a little more, just to be on the safe side.

Proper Japanese manners were observed, with the person who originally helped me calling me up to explain that she had no excuse for her mistake. The next day, I got another call alerting me of the arrival of my tray. Because of my busy schedule, I just got in today and saw my… crumb-catcher tray, which goes in the bottom of the oven… I cried out with a slightly frustrated, “もう!” Which is something like, “Not again!” I explained that another mistake had occurred and softened the mood by saying I was amused. I suggested we take a careful look at the display models again to make sure we get it right.

Today’s clerk went over the parts with me carefully, then he pulled out the manual for the most similar model and we checked the proper names of the parts. My pan was not a pan, nor a tray, but rather an ukezara (受皿), which I’ll call a “plate to be received by the oven”. Hopefully the next call will be for the ukezara and I hope my local store doesn’t go out of business from accumulated delivery costs.

One Response to “You Call That a Pan?”

  1. びっくり Says:

    The “pan” (Or should I say “ukezara”, to be proper?) has arrived. They apologized on the phone for all the trouble. When I arrived at the store to get the goods, I noticed the label on the package said “Part Name: Tray B”. So, I guess it was a tray after all. I’m guessing the other two mistakenly ordered parts were probably called Tray A and Tray C. Funny that they give it one name in the manual, but another name when it is being ordered as a part.

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