The big wigs at the Kaisha almost elicited a tear from me today when they finally and after much public emailing back and forth, approved two days off for me to celebrate the Jewish new year. When I say almost I was half-expecting them to email me back with something along the lines of, bitch you ain't religious! No, but working for them has nudged me a little further from the corporate and more towards the let's heal.
The main problem wasn't whether I could take days off, it was whether I could take them unpaid. I get 10 paid days off every year and that is supposed to cover everything. There is no separate allotment for being sick or just needing a personal day. To the Kaisha you need no personal days. I don't know many people who would then use 2 of those days to go and pray. More than that though, I don't want to be paid for a day when I'm not supposed to work. Granted this is Japan and their idea of a religious holiday is eating KFC on December 24th with their significant other, but I think the Kaisha is man enough to wake the fuck up to the rest of the world and realize that maybe everyone doesn't fit in the same box.
When I first handed in my application form I was told they would need to get approval from the Top. Preempting any confused emails I tried my best to clearly explain what is was I planned to do on these 2 days and why I was asking for the never-asked-for unpaid holidays. Although I was only communicating with one of the women in HR, for some reason she kept Cc'ing one of my colleagues and three other HR people in her replies, enabling them to read our email chain. What the mother fuck?! I can just imagine trying to get time off for something really personal and she would make sure it made the rounds to every last person at the Kaisha. Even the hot mail room boys. I talked myself out of sending her an emailed edged in snarkiness entailing how I felt about her affinity for the Cc button, as I figured it would be one less thing to apologize for come Yom Kippur.
I have had some interesting reactions from Japanese people in the past including a Japanese professor at my CANADIAN university who practically told me she didn't believe my Jewish holiday story and my teacher at an INTERNATIONAL language school in Tokyo who informed me that no, the school had no policies on religious holidays and wasn't prepared to discuss any now. In the end the Kaisha actually did right by me, despite my expectations. I had even prepared a little speech to give to one of the Top Professionals if they had decided to put the kabosh on my plans. I guess that's 1 for the Kaisha but still about 10 for me.