died in the wool ______

To have no set purpose in one's life is the harlotry of the will -Stephen Mackenna-

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Office Observations

The thing about working for a huge fortune 500 Japanese company is you see some things that I don't think you would see in an American office. Please bare in mind that I have never actually WORKED in an American office, so what that actually means to me is really based on my parents/friends work experiences, and movies.....like Office Space, etc.

For example, I am on an editing committee for a group magazine. Last week the head of the committee was suddenly *poof!* at the desk right next to me! When I asked my supervisor who will soon be retiring what he was doing there after my bucho's vague description he gritted his teeth and snarled 'I DON'T KNOW'. Lesson 1: Don't question the corporate machine. They will tell you if it's necessary for you to know.

The same person was speaking to my supervisor. My supervisor said 'remember those invitation cards? Well we're using them as scratch paper now!' To which the 'new' guy replied 'Ah, those. they've been lying around for more than 10 years. Maybe more than 15!' Now the only way for them to know such a slight detail would mean for them to have actually WORKED for this company for that long. And that's at a minimum. My ADHD blood curdles at the thought. Lesson 2: Lifetime Employment; Remember, you're here forever.

But the bitch about lifetime employment, is that it's a misnomer. You are employed until a certain age, at which you MUST retire. And in very Japanese style, there are no exceptions. Period. Despite what I've heard certain people say in a defensive way ('even if I could stay I wouldn't want to', etc.), it's clear that, the company is their life, has guided them over 40 years across three different continents, and that without the company, they will be 'living in a cardboard box in shinjuku'. Lesson 3: Lifetime employment ain't so lifetime.

And as Japanese men age, through all that cigarette smoking, and shochu drinking with no excercise and the stress racked lifestyle meanwhile supporting their society shrinking 1.2 children and paying off the huge house loan (making tokyo one of the most sprawled and low urban areas in at least the developed world) that they will inevitably do, they take on a certain... fragrance is far too polite. They smell, plain and simple. How can they not baring the above description? This is widely known. So well known, in fact, I saw a show where the goal was to reduce the old man smell (oyaji kusai) of a certain person's father. They made him eat leaves, and put things in his shoes, etc. And apparently with whatever insturment they were using he smelled less. Lesson 4: Old men smell


At 9:30 AM, Blogger SomewhatAtlanticPacific said...

Mr. T-- young men smell too! I was talking with one the other day and stale afternoon smoker breath nearly made me lean away. Future Oyaji all the way. . .


Post a Comment

<< Home

span.shortpost {display:none;}