I need to confess something, because the TV is slowly driving me insane. There’s this commercial that keeps playing “Mr. Roboto” by Styx, and every time it plays, I want to hide. Here is why.
Seven years ago, I was at one of the Toronto accessibility conferences. I attended a session about considering the elderly when designing websites. It was led by a Japanese fellow named Makoto Ueki. The one overarching thing I remember about his talk was this word mendokusai. If I remember it correctly, it means doable but difficult. He was talking about making websites less mendokusai for people who are older, might not see as well, might have less dexterity, less room for mentally-draining tasks, etc. He kept getting us to say the word, break it into syllables, repeat after him.
Then the end of the presentation came, and he said “domo arigato” because of course he did. He’s Japanese and that’s thank you very much in Japanese. But somehow I had missed that memo, and the only context I had for domo arigato was Mr. Roboto. And we had been doing call and response for the whole hour. And I was really getting into it. And…out of my mouth, at top volume came “Mr. Roboto!” …
And nobody else did that, because everyone else possesses a clue. Everyone else clapped, grabbed their things and went to the next session. I did too, but I wished the earth would swallow me whole. I also wondered what my immediate neighbours must have thought of me.
I googled for half a second and learned what I should have known all along…and felt like an even bigger dope. I had just made myself look like a giant idiot in front of all these people, and insulted the presenter too! Just frigging great!
He probably doesn’t remember that incident, but if he does, I just want to apologize and say that I really wasn’t trying to be a jerk. I just got so wrapped up in the call and response thing, and I legitimately didn’t know what those words meant, so I thought we must have to finish the only sentence I knew with those words in it…and out it came. Oops. Hopefully I will be able to slow down in the future so I won’t have more versions of this story to taunt me.