Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Postcard from the Kaisha: perfect harmony

Picture it, my secretary and I are sitting in our cubicles formerly of the white ghetto, and out of the corner of my eye I can see her eyes hovering above the partition. Looking back at my screen there is an email from her asking me to do some work . I am tempted to look over at her and acknowledge receipt of the email, but she is staring at her screen with an intensity I imagine comes from trying not to look at me. I have to repress a little smile that involuntarily forms at the absurdity of it all. I send her the stuff she needs, wondering if we will be greeting each other in the mornings by email from now on, and half expect her to vocalize her thanks. Instead, she sends me an email, thanking me for my trouble. We are each essentially pretending that the other is not within physical reach. This must be what it feels like to be in perfect harmony with another human being.

I may have to begin surreptitious construction of a wall that will run along the top of the partition, obscuring her from my view if I am to keep up this farce.

15 comments:

kathrynoh said...

That's crazy. I've sent emails to ppl I sit next to but only because I want to bitch about other people in the office!

Tokyo Cowgirl said...

The next time she emails you a request you should email her back that you're too busy and that you have tons of paperwork to do and blah blah blah.

And then proceed to apply lipstick for the next two hours.

Green-Eyed Geisha said...

kathrynoh: I wish I had someone like that! Nasty as it is, I could (do?!) talk faily openly about the people around me in English and get away with it!

Cowgirl: Hello stranger :) Liking the suggestion. Bitch showed up in my damn dreams last night!!

liza f said...

I used to work in an office with 14 cubicles. we would throw candy at each other and when someone received a nasty phone call, the person would get up, continue talking to the client and make nasty faces. all of my colleagues were vietnamese and i was the only whitie. they were so great to me

C said...

New reader here!
I too am blonde (and green-eyed, which I must say is what drew me to this paticular blog!) and in Tokyo and well, anyway, I goddamn love reading your stuff! Amusing and perceptive. /end harping-on

Slightly OT from the original post - how long have you studied Japanese, and in what way? Major deets aren't required, no worries. It's more because Japanese is my degree, and I'm curious what journey you've taken to get to such an enviable level!

In any case, looking foward to reading your future posts. Blog on! ;)

Lisa said...

Hahah! I like Tokyo Cowgirl's suggestion.

Foggia said...

Miscommunication in society is getting seriously effed up.

You're unfortunate enough to have what is called a Symptom sitting next to you.

Anonymous said...

Haha.

I've been having a Japanese coworker go out of her way to EXPLAIN everything to me VERY SLOWLY and PAINFULLY. If I'm worried about being out of the loop on a project, or getting stared at during a project, she'll patiently explain that it's because I stand out as foreign and tall, thus making everyone uncomfortable, you see? It's because you're foreign!

I'm like, oh, thanks, I hadn't picked up on the fact that Japanese people find me foreign before you so kindly explained it to me as you would a child. It's like the weird opposite of ignoring someone, reassuring me that she knows I'm DIFFERENT every second of every day.

I liked when she heard about a bad date and said, "Maybe you should date your own kind..." Good solution!

selena said...

Wow, anonymous, what an asshole your coworker is!

I am continually astounded by the asshole antics of your cubicle ghetto neighbors. I'm so sorry. I think I would probably crack from the stress.

Green-Eyed Geisha said...

liza f: Were you working in Vietnam? I don't know how throwing things at the secretaries would go, although I did once send a hair elastic shooting at my secretary by mistake. That was embarrassing. Or maybe accidentally on purpose.

C: Welcome! And thank you. I have to tell you though, I wouldn't call my level of Japanese enviable! I first met Japanese in high school and by the end of that, I could basically give my name and say I want this (insert noun). I took it at uni and came on exchange for a year in Tokyo, where I was more interested in socializing than throwing myself into Japanese study. As a result of which, I came back to study at a language school for a year and then started working. I'm possibly taking level 1 at the end of the year, but due to life and other circumstances, I haven't actually studied Japanese for over a year now, unless you count shacking up with a Japanese guy studying :) I'm pretty mad at myself about this, because I just haven't put the time in to get past my current plateau. I have other things I need to focus on until the fall, at which point I'm hoping to get back into learning new stuff. Fuck, I am long-winded. Feel free to email me if you have other questions or want more details!

Green-Eyed Geisha said...

Anon: My god! How kind of her to give you running commentary on how you're making people uncomfortable just by being you. What a nutso. I hope she gets to experience life in a foreign country one day.

Selena: It's pretty freaky deeky. I used to be a lot more disturbed but now I rarely bat an eye. Drinking the kool-aid and all that...

ELSN said...

Oops, I just wanted to say that Anon was me, ELSN. There's not a million people throwing out Japanese-company horror stories.

The irony is the girl I mentioned is one of the nicest, most genuine people at the office! She doesn't ignore me, the total opposite! I think she simply doesn't realize that I don't appreciate what she says. But it's better than being ignored?

Green-Eyed Geisha said...

Thanks ELSN! Glad to know our numbers aren't increasing :) It may be better than being ignored, as she is trying to be helpful even though it is extremely misguided. The jury's still out on this one.

Foggia said...

I've had a female colleague in my former Kaisha explain me things very thoroughly and in way too much details things that were fairly simple.
I'm talking half an hour explanation for a 5 min job. (with a monotonous, high-pitched & nasal drone)

She never explained that I was different or making anybody uncomfortable by being me, but I still think she was from a different specie, for the following reason:
As I hated the confined atmosphere, stinky air and no natural light of my office, I was taking full liberty of opening the blinds and letting some fresh air in from my nearby window.

She asked me to stop doing so, cause she "doesn't like the sun".

That had me speechless for a while.

Green-Eyed Geisha said...

Foggia: That would leave me speechless too. I would kill for some fresh air in my office! On days when I'm busy and can't get outside, I emerge from the building blinking like a blind mouse.