died in the wool ______

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

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Office observation5/11/2005

Working for a gigantic company, you are obviously going to have offices in other countries.

We have offices in Europe, South America, etc, but the one office we have the most contact with is our US office.

Yesterday we had the director of the media relations department over there come over here for her annual visit.

After our meeting, we went out for lunch at the West Park Cafe in the maru biru, which is kiddie corner from my office. I chose the building because a)Maru Biru is owned by Mitsubishi Estate and is the best example of the buildings in the Mitsubishi Village around the Marunouchi side of Tokyo station, and b) because it had a good view of our new office. And the west park cafe has a great Ceasar Salad that I wanted to have (a whole wedge of parmasean!)

As we talked over lunch, she made the too often made observation of the 'delicacy' and 'subtlety' and 'dichotomy' blah blah blah of Japan. As we went up to the observation deck of the Maru Biru, we looked out over the imperial palace, the national diet, and Hibiya Park, and she said what a beautiful city Tokyo is.

Maybe I've been here too long, but I just don't see anything 'subtle' or 'delicate' about Japan. Why yesterday, I saw one of my coworkers whose having an affair with one of our OL's, summon her over to the desk by snapping at her like a dog.

And if you're talking about how wonderfully polite the service is here, most attendant staff in resturants and stores don't know anything (which is the true meaning of service if you ask me; saying 'irassyaimase' is social custom and I don't find it particularly polite). On my way back from the airport on sunday, I left a box of omiyage (taiwan 'sun cakes' for my office) underneath the seat on the train. When I went to go see if they were in the lost and found, the attendant at the gate to Tokyo station made me go all the way down to the basement platform to ask the attendant down there. When I finally got to the right place after wasting 15 minutes of my 45 minute lunch break, the attendant down there talked to me impatiently, like I was some worthless English teacher/tourist that of course cannot read or write Japanese who has the nerve to ask him a question. After I finally proved my ability he called the office that is at the end of that train line (Zushi). It was there, but he told me I would have to go all.the.way.to *zushi* to get my crumby (literally, sun cakes are very crumbly it turns out)siuvenier. If you look at the JR map, you will see that Zushi, in the lower left of the map, is about 60 minutes away Tokyo station, and the Tokaido line is packed from evening until last train heading out of the city. Luckily a friend of mine who lives in Kawasaki joined me for the ride, but how hard is it to put a box of suncakes on a train bound for Tokyo station? I sent a pair of snowboarding pants back to the rental store this way when i was in Niigata.

Japan also has many beautiful places.Tokyo as well has great, awe-inspiringly beautiful places. But it would be a mistake to say that either of them are beautiful. they're not. Interesting, yes. Fascinating, yes. mind boggling, yes. Beautiful, no.

The finger snapping subtlety and foot dragging service of Japan. As my father used to quote Winston Churchill, what an 'enigma surrounded by a cloud'.psssh


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