Work bullshit

Okay, so things at work have gone from annoying but tolerable to GET ME OUT OF HERE.

Basically. This place is stricter than even a Japanese company would be (according to my Japanese coworkers). There are so many rules and little things we have to do, that I feel do not relate to the quality of our work. And I just want more freedom, less scrutiny. Constant scrutiny. Twice now (by separate people) I’ve been called aside to discuss inappropriate break length and frequency. Okay, I get it. But I’m not taking admittedly overly long breaks just to fuck off. I’m doing it to refresh myself and, in some cases, wake myself up. I think it helps my work performance if I’m able to get away from my computer for a bit when I finish a task. Also, I’m not very used to having to be ‘on’ at my desk all the time. For three years at my book publisher job, I could alternately fuck around and relax or work, all from my desk, because no one was watching over my shoulder. Same for during break times at the middle school in Matsue. But this place is starting to remind me uncomfortably of the wire service where I worked for three months and quickly grew to hate it and my boss.

The other thing is that we have time sheets and clock in and out, and you must clock in before 9:00, ideally at least 5 minutes before that if not earlier, or you are officially late and must give a reason (such as a train delay). If you are late too often, you get a warning. This is also my second time receiving a warning about that. I unfortunately just don’t do very well at jobs where I must be strictly on time, because I am not good at being strictly on time. It’s hard for me to wake up in the morning and get out the door on time, always. I do my best but it doesn’t come naturally and I fail a lot. Lately I’m really into trying to work with and not against my natural tendencies.

Oh, and this super strictness isn’t a Japan thing. I did think it was at first, but I know people who work at Japanese companies or at least at workplaces in Tokyo and roll in whenever they want, sometimes into the late morning or afternoon, and make up for it by working late. And no one is policing how often those people are away from their desks or if they have Gmail pulled up on their computer (I don’t, but if I did I wouldn’t have to go away to check my phone).

Anyway. This second time was just so humiliating. It was even implied that if I have a medical problem necessitating such frequent breaks, I should provide a doctor’s note. It was noted that I had taken two breaks already that morning and the second one had been almost 10 minutes. I wanted to cry. I wanted to run away and cry. Instead I went to lunch with two Japanese coworkers (who have done their share of discussing the company’s faults honestly) and sighed and complained. I don’t know why it’s so strict here. Our CEO is annoying me, as CEOs always do. Why are they so capricious? One day something is fine, the next day “This must change NOW!” One day it’s business as usual, the next “Hey, I had a great idea! Let’s overhaul our entire business and get into this new industry now!”

By the way, a Japanese girl in another department just suddenly stopped coming into work. For three weeks she called in every day with a stomachache. She was the only employee who didn’t show up to the office end-of-year party. Finally she eventually quit. I’m still not sure exactly what happened but it almost certainly had to do with her sales performance not being good enough and her training supervisor getting switched to a very demanding, draconian woman who kept her at the office much later than she’d been used to. Shortly after that is when she stopped coming to work.

So… it’s not just me. I think this place is kinda crazy and if you can’t handle it you escape. I might have to be one of those people.

I’ll also say that I’ve noticed several Japanese staff members taking leisurely breaks brushing their teeth or re-applying makeup in the bathroom. I’ve also gotten called out in the past for not giving proper greetings to other staff members, but there are plenty other non-Japanese staff who don’t say those greetings. I just don’t think it’s fair and I hate that I’ve made myself the object of scrutiny. Unless I’m perfect, it’s not going to go away. And I can’t be perfect. So I feel like this is just going to continue.

The thing is! It’s not affecting my work at all! I can still finish all my work and do a great job, because I’m a damn good editor and writer. I’m a great worker and member of the team. They should be doing their best to keep me because I know they have a hard time finding writers/editors who meet their standards. But it’s like none of that matters if I can’t be consistently early and keep my butt in my desk for 55 minutes out of every hour. If I can’t smile and duck my head and murmur a ritual greeting phrase to Japanese staff when I pass them in the halls during the day.

I also can’t listen to music on headphones at my desk. Ugh. I’m so sick of listening to the Japanese staff’s obsequious phone calls and habitual phrases (ugh, this one translator who says a nasal “Ah, ah, ah, ah, ah” in reply to anything someone is saying to her. So annoying).

I really want a new job now. I’m chafing. Not sure if I can do it, especially since I probably failed N1, but let’s try!

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Little things

I wish I had more time to write long blog entries for this thing, even if only a handful of people read them. I don’t know why but it feels like I do way too many things all the time, basically since I moved to Tokyo. I don’t know how to stop – start turning down invitations, I guess, but I always want to do everything and I have a lot of friends I want to see regularly. I also over-commit myself, especially when I’m drunk. Like, I’m participating in a fashion show this weekend mostly for the experience but it’s a big time commitment and I could have been relaxing at home after a week where I had something to do every single night…

Getting a boyfriend hasn’t helped either – not that I’m not enjoying myself or that I don’t like him, of course! Quite the opposite, I’m having fun with a new experience and just sort of seeing how things go. He’s Japanese and we’ll call him Mitsu. But I think I realized right after I planned first dates with him and another (British) guy that “Wait, I don’t have the time to be dating, what am I doing focusing energy on this?” But in the end I liked talking to him and we clicked in person (as for British guy, we had a good date and had a lot in common but I didn’t feel a spark), and when he asked me to be his girlfriend a month ago I said yes. I don’t regret the decision but it’s just another thing to fit into my schedule…

I still like my job but parts of it are starting to bug me. I guess mostly it’s just certain other people – some of them really rub me the wrong way. The annoying “sou sou sou” IT guy still bugs me (although it turns out “sou sou sou” is actually office-appropriate, but it’s still irritating when he does it), so do a few Japanese women who seem really fake, and one scheduler in my department is super irritating. I also really hate the way the office is laid out. There’s only one entry/exit door everyone uses and there are a million bottlenecks, narrow hallways, and corners and you nearly run into people like at least 10 times a day, leading to tons of awkward “Sorry, sumimasen” moments where everyone ducks their head and looks humble (a Japanese behavior mannerism that really bothers me coming from some of the more passive women in the office, I just want to shake them). The desks in my department are closely bunched together and if you roll your chair back you’ll hit the chair of the person behind you. One guy always, ALWAYS manages to smack his protruding gut on the back of my chair whenever he goes past it. The women’s restroom is the worst though – two stalls and ONE sink for 35 women, most of whom want to brush their teeth after lunch. I wish we’d move to a bigger office, I’m seriously so sick of this. Overall it’s a good job and a good place to work, but little things here and there bug me.

My house is also becoming an issue. Over the summer a British girl moved in. Her room was across from mine and didn’t share a wall so she didn’t bother me too much, except when she’d take her laptop to the kitchen downstairs and leave the door open while talking loudly on Skype to friends back in the UK at 11 p.m. our time – when I was trying to sleep. Then I moved to a room that DID share a wall with hers and she began to annoy me more – her alarm in the morning would go off about five times, all before I needed to get up, and her boyfriend was over a lot staying over and making dinner with her in the kitchen (he was always really nice though). So I wasn’t sad when she said she was going to move out and into an apartment with the boyfriend, but a few weeks before she moved out her friend, another British citizen, moved in. And he also wasn’t the most considerate – for one, he ate all my eggs. I bought a pack of 10, and I hadn’t touched it before all the eggs but one had magically disappeared. My name was written on the container, which had been enough in the past with my other three (Japanese) roommates. After I noticed a couple eggs missing, I put a rubber band around the container to further deter theft. IT DIDN’T WORK. HE KEPT EATING THEM. I don’t know for sure it was him but if my other roommates never did this and it happens right after he moves in, I think the evidence is clear. Anyway, I wasn’t thrilled with him, but then it got worse. A couple weeks ago, HIS friend (also British) moved in. I guess this guy came from his own apartment because he brought a bunch of kitchen stuff. The problem is that he hasn’t made ANY effort to adjust his behavior from living on his own to living in a shared house. He plays TV episodes and sports commentary loudly in his room on the weekends, he plays techno music late at night, he and the other guy chat to each other across the hall from their room starting at 11 p.m. on weeknights, and these walls are THIN so you really can’t do this sort of thing without quickly annoying everyone around you, only they never thought to consider that. There’s also issues with unwashed dishes and not locking the front door after coming home. Anyway, I’m so fucking sick of these British assholes. I’ve complained to our share company twice and so have some of my other roommates, and actually this week on weeknights they were pretty subdued, but I also found out one guy went home to the UK so it could just be that the other guy doesn’t have anyone to talk to. I really hope though that these bad habits have been nipped in the bud. I also made a fake quiet hours sign ‘from’ my sharehouse company and hung it upstairs and downstairs so I hope that helps too. I’m moving out in April but I wish it was sooner if this sort of shit is going to keep up…