So then…he raises his chopsticks to pluck sushi from the tray in the center of the conference table, but then realizes — it is the very last piece of sushi.
He quickly lowers his chopsticks and looks around the table at his Japanese colleagues who are all similarly eyeing the lone tuna roll. No one dares take it.
There is some shifting in the seats, some nervous twitching, and one gentleman unconsciously taps his chopsticks on his plate.
I falter a bit in my presentation as this drama unfolds. We hope to impress Mr. Tanaka and his colleagues so much that they agree to carry our automotive accessories in their line of shops in Japan. It’s a small chain, but it would be our first foray into the international market, so we’re very excited.
As I point to the next product line and discuss its success at our country’s largest retailer, I shoot a look at one of my co-workers to indicate distress over the sushi. But he’s too wrapped up in the presentation to notice.
There are a dozen of us crammed into this conference room – 6 visiting Japanese from our potential new client and 6 Americans with our company. To accommodate the varying culinary tastes of the group, we had ordered a huge tray of sushi – and a huge tray of deli meats and breads for sandwiches.
We must have underestimated the sushi portion size for the average Japanese businessman – or these guys are particularly ravenous – because they literally devour the entire tray in minutes.
I’m up here selling my ass off, trying to take their minds off their apparent starvation, but I have to tell you — there is nothing more distracting than a hungry audience.
I shoot a look at another co-worker to signal – “Feed these people; I’m dyin’ up here!” but she is oblivious.
I’m loathe to stop the presentation to address the situation because quite honestly, I don’t know where to get any more sushi anyway! Our company is out in the middle of an industrial center so there are no shops or restaurants nearby. We had to order the sushi far in advance – and now we’re out.
Finally, one of the younger Japanese businessman tentatively reaches his chopsticks over to the deli meat and bread tray. He hovers there for a moment, then zips down to snare a slice of ham.
He places it on his plate and stares at it a moment. His colleagues are transfixed on the operation. He dips the ham into the soy sauce, adds a touch of wasabi, and pops it in his mouth. He nods.
Suddenly the other 5 are fast and furious with their chopsticks and soon they are plucking up roast beef, turkey, and ham onto their plates, dousing with soy sauce and wasabi, then slurping it down.
Suddenly the sliced provolone and Swiss cheese are flying through the air, meeting a similar fate.
I can hardly keep a straight face. Who knew cold cuts and cheeses would be so appealing to the Japanese palate?
I instantly imagine a brilliant idea for a chain of deli stores for Japan!
Snapper on Rye
Turkey Tuna Roll
Squid & Swiss on Sourdough
Soy Sauce Salami Sliders
Corned Beef California Roll
Pastrami Sashimi, Hold the Pickles
And of course — Wasabi-Flavored Bagels!
OK the menu might need some tinkering, but clearly I’m onto something –
Our Japanese visitors are delighted with their deli discovery –
Their full attention is now on my scintillating sales presentation –
They agree to a large initial purchase order of auto accessories!
And now I’m off to invent my new chain of deli-sushi spots for Japan!
All restaurant names and menu suggestions welcome!
— Darcy Perdu
Please pop your email address into the purple box below to receive 2 new funny stories per week!
(Ever had a food shortage or food mishap at a meeting or social event? Any embarrassing presentations YOU’VE made? How about a funny story about international clients or cuisine? Bring it on!)