Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The break-up

My secretary broke up with me this week. Praise the lord.

It started last week with some murmured snippets about some desk shifting about to go down, but I didn't dare get my hopes up that it would be her moving. Not having to deal with her weird sour puss attitude and continued resistance to acknowledging my existence was more than I dared hope for. Having her continually in my peripheral vision all day every day was starting to do my head in. I have realized though, that her issues cannot be chalked up solely to her being Japanese, and I think she is genuinely just kind of fucked up. Case in point: she always eats lunch at her desk. I do too, for the most part, but I do it because I am a lonely whitie with a vag. What with her nationality and ethnicity behind her, she should be able to fit in with the other secretaries and score invitations to lunches where bore-me-to-tears conversations abound. The fact that she does not is suspect.

She is now gone, far down the hall and out of my line of sight. Not surprisingly, she said absolutely nothing to me about it, but made a point of saying goodbye to the nice secretary diagonally across from me. The first I officially heard about anything was when that new quiet secretary who used to sit next to me, came over and said that again, she would be joining my quad of shame, yoroshiku, etc., thank you very much. I feel like I have written in detail about the two quiet secretaries who used to sit near me, but for the life of me I cannot find it. In short, they were unnaturally quiet. Hanging up the phone in slow motion-type shit. I don't think I ever saw either one with a plastic bag or anything that could have emitted an offensive sound. I became painfully self-conscious of pulling a tissue from its box, taking my sandwich out of its bag, popping open a diet Coke, even the sound of my palm-sized stapler sent waves of paranoia through me. The worst part is, they weren't simply quiet, they were purposefully quiet. I could see the pains they took to ensure total silence and it in turn, pained me.

So this is who I have sitting next to me again. We will see how it goes. Three or four days after my secretary moved, she finally sent me an email to tell me that one of her main duties in relation to me is being shifted to Quiet One. And that maybe she should have told me earlier. You motherfucking think? I was so very very very tempted to write back that yes, she should have told me, and while we're at it, she should have told me she was moving too. I mean, my nose is so freakishly tall that sometimes I miss things going on to the side of me and holy shit was I surprised to turn my head one day and find a completely different person sitting on the other side of the divide. I am still trying to decide how to ask my secretary whether she is still my secretary or whether I should now direct everything to Quiet One. I am of half a mind to just email HR and have them clarify things for me since she is not being very forthcoming.

Living in Japan blurs the lines for me and I am left wondering about the motives behind people's actions: are they targeting me as someone who is foreign and female, or are they just ass holes? I alluded to it a little in my most recent manner post, but I am struggling with the extension of kindness to strangers. I'm not sure where the turning point came and went, but somewhere along the way I got it into my head that everyone is against me. There are obviously many exceptions to this rule (even at the Kaisha), but for the most part, sadly, I automatically assume that people outside of my little corner apartment in Nihonbashi are out to get me. I suppose I could easily draw this conclusion living somewhere else, but never have I encountered such a wall of passive-aggressiveness and people fronting all kinds of attitudes in my general direction.

Late last night as I was riding home, I came upon a group of six or seven salarymen taking up most of the sidewalk (which, by the way, is spacious on Showa-dori), so I moved to the very far left so as not to break up their group. What do you know, but two of them decide to move to the same side and then split up, making it almost impossible for me to squeeze through. I would have dismissed it as that peculiar and frustrating habit of people here to go completely against (my) logic when moving around other pedestrians and bike traffic. Last night though, the two salaryfuckers must have decided to fuck with me, because they had to move away from the group to block me and as I barely made it through swearing out loud at how tight they had closed ranks, the whole group started laughing about it. Those two in particular deserve to have Mavis run over their fucking underused balls. Now class, did the salarymen gang up on me because I was a foreigner on a bike? a female on a bike? a foreign female on a bike? a person with wavy hair on a bike? a sweaty person with wavy hair on a bike? a sweaty female on a bike? I will never know.


Sarahf said...

Salarymen are, in general, tossers. Fact. I'm going through a similar phase as you, all too often I feel like I'm the butt of a stack of jokes I can't quite understand, and I'm on the outside looking in. Work is easier for me, and my close friends are great but large groups of people seem to engender paranoia. I don't know how I'd cope if I had that in my working life too.

Julie said...

i fully understand the kind of paranoia this induces...whenever a random thai is rude to me, it sends me into a tailspin of anger and questioning, like, are they rude to me because they're just assholes that are rude to anyone, or because i'm female, or because i'm a foreigner? it drives me crazy, especially when i see how much respect the dodgiest, most hideous male sex tourist gets compared to me...especially the Thai women are all smily faced and "what can i do for you?" etc, etc....gah!

my theory is people in many of these Asian countries are all choking under these obnoxious hierarchies where they have to toe the line and stay in their place...they have no place to vent their frustrations, except when a foreigner comes along.

for myself either i'm caught by surprise and do nothing, or i just started being flat out rude to people who behave like this, because they don't really expect it. I'd like to find a better approach tho, as this doesn't do much for my feeling of being a kind, polite person. :-P

kathrynoh said...

I'm glad you mentioned the people not knowing how to move out of your freaken way thing because I thought it just happened to me.

The secretary does sound pretty much crazy. Can you set noise traps for the new secretary? A whoopy cushion would be too obvious but maybe plant things around her desk that are sure to make noise!

Erin said...

I'm betting it's because you were a sweaty person with wavy hair on a bike - ps, this reason kind of rules.

I'm always initially drawn to being rude and potentially sneakily violent (generally only if I have a sound escape route)...and I hate the person these situations make me feel like I am. I mean, if these fuckers got a heel to the face from a drive-by cyclist, maybe they'd think twice? Then you can ride away cackling.

Bangasa Kimono = ^( ^_^)^ said...

The behaviour of those salarymen was just uncalled for! Should of run over the f***kers.

Green-Eyed Geisha said...

Sarahf: Sorry to hear that. I don't really feel like the butt of jokes (at work or elsewhere) but just that whenever I am out on my own I cannot seem to escape some form of bullshit or other. Groups on the other hand (apart from the group I encountered) have nothing on the individuals acting like royal assholes when no one is looking.

Julie: I think you're definitely on to something, as I can't see much of what goes down happening to the natives. Being rude back seems to work best for me, because I feel like I am asserting both that I understand they are being jerks and that I will not take it sitting down. Unfortunately, when I need my rudeness the most, it sometimes deserts me along with my words and I kick myself later for not be a more articulate bitch.

kathrynoh: I don't really expect people to move out of my way, as I do to be alert when they are in public so that we can all move around each other in utopian harmony.

Erin: That's the reason I had my money on too! "Sneakily violent" IS my secret weapon. Do you employ yours anywhere or only in Japan?

zhing said...

female with wavy hair i reckon. i get that ALL the time on the bike. *grr*

Green-Eyed Geisha said...

zhing: What are we to do?! Go straight?!