Konbini Store Clerk Thwarts Theft With a Single Word

Sometimes, all it takes to stop a bad guy in his tracks is and extra-ordinary amount of calm and some philosophizing.

Being a clerk at a convenience store can most often be a balance between hours of excruciating boredom and sheer dread in the wee hours of the morning, and it certainly isn’t any different over in Japan as it is in the US. Convenience stores (known better over there as konbini, being a shortened version of the noun) provide an array of goods and services that go beyond your usual 3am fare of munchies and beer or milk and cookies. They also provide services such as a courier or postal service, bills payment, ATMs, and even tickets to that concert you love.

All of which actually make for a lucrative business — as well as generous picking grounds for midnight prowlers. However, one prowler’s bark was no match for one clerks simple and succinct wit, as you will read below.


In the wee hours of the morning on September 10, 2015, a 20-year-old Nepalese man whose name we still have yet to learn was manning the till of an unnamed convenience store. A few minutes after, a man all dressed in black with a black bandanna tied around his head to obscure his face, stomped into the store and demanded, in Japanese, for the clerk to “shut his trap and stuff all the till money into a plastic bag”, threatening him with a box cutter.

The Nepalese man looked at him, blinked, and also in Japanese, asked one simple question: “Why?”

This question, as the likes of Kitaro Nishida and Socrates know well, is enough to disarm any person and make them stop and think — which is exactly what this would be thief did. A few seconds after, the thief found himself in the middle of a rather cordial conversation with the clerk, and realized that (1) he had completely forgotten what he was there to do, and (2) it was practically enough time for any of the customers back there to whip our their mobile phones and text or call the police.

Which is exactly why the bemused robber beat feet and fled the scene of the un-crime, without stealing as much as a single rice ball or bottled tea.

What’s perhaps even more perplexing than the incredible amount of collected cool the Nepalese clerk had was the way the media reported the event. In TBS News, for example, the media outlet claimed that the Nepalese man had no idea what the robber was saying. (Which is kinda downplaying the awesomeness of the story, but we digress.)

Whatever happened, we wholeheartedly salute you, Mr. Nepalese Store Clerk. We could do better to have that indubitable level of chill in life, too.

photo credit: Gratisography; 7-Eleven, Kyoto via photopin (license)

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