Monday, August 4, 2008

No introductions necessary

I was under the impression that in an office, if you need something done by someone you don't know, it's standard procedure to introduce yourself. Apparently names are not necessary at the Kaisha. If I had 100 yen for every time someone comes to my desk to ask me to do something, totally out of the blue, and without introducing themselves, I could quit my gig as as the Kaisha Geisha (thanks tokyo cowgirl for the catchy title) and pursue other paths...such as becoming an actual geisha.

I remember the first time this happened to me at the Kaisha. I was an innocent newbie full of excitement and hope at her new Kaisha job. I mistakenly thought I would make friends and also that if someone I didn't know came to my desk (yes, came to my desk), they would introduce themselves. I was so perky and thrilled that someone had come by my desk it didn't occur to me until later that they hadn't introduced themselves, just given me something to do. The second time this happened I was more shocked. The third time I was pissed that they thought me unworthy of introduction. Fast-forward to now when I don't expect it and am actually shocked when someone at the Kaisha whom I don't know introduces themselves when they come to my desk. They won't even feed me a crumb by telling me where they sit or who their secretary is. I'm not asking for your blood type people!

One more story and I shall leave it at that: Professional comes to ask me something and I give him an answer. After he leaves I find the need to add something to what I initially told him and am left scavenging around for clues. I first try to recollect the direction he came from when approaching my desk and also whether I had ever seen him elsewhere. After a frantic scan of both English and Japanese seating charts I located the area I thought he might be and walked around poking my head into offices looking for him. Of course, everyone sits with their back to the door so I had to analyze everyone's short black hair in comparison with the fuzzy details of my 2 minute exchange. I wasn't exactly looking at the back of his head for clues on how to find him later on! When I finally found him (my back of head analytical skills are quite honed I might add) he asked how I had found him and kind of laughed. I felt like retorting that I could find him anywhere but that might have come off as stalkerish.

There is a fantastic movie called Fear and Trembling based on a book by Amélie Nothomb who joined a Japanese corporation with high hopes only to end up cleaning the bathrooms. When I first saw it I was impressed and horrified at the inner-workings of her Kaisha. I am not shocked now, but rather remember the scene where she is told by a cold hearted co-worker that they are not friends, with fondness.


tokyo said...

Sounds like you've entered the Tiger's Den. Most Japanese companies that I know are extremely formal in the situation you describe. However, an exception appears to be made for the gaijin at the office. Your persistence in such adversity is to be admired. Gambatte.

Vegancat said...

Scray..i ask myself if one ever can become friends with japanese co-workers or not