Wednesday, February 15, 2006

24 on the 18th floor

Hey guys! Sorry it's been awhile. I finally got placed by my contracting company, and started working at NEC. The building is big. BIG! 37 floors. It might be taller, but that's the last elevator button I saw.
I am now experiencing TRUE japanese office life. It's... weird. Ok, it's awesome too. Let me mention some of the differences between american and japanese offices at big companies:

*most guys wear suits and ties every day. Even *gasp* PROGRAMMERS!... weeeeiird!!

*no cubicles. There are partitions, but they are only between tables, and they're short: eye level when you sit down. This means a lot of slouching to try to avoid akward eye contact with the guy sitting right in front of you whenever you look up. Here is an ASCII diagram: stars are people, the big line is the partition, dashes are computers:

_* _*_*_*_*_*_*_  
|_______________| 
| -*-*-*-*-*-*-*|

_* _*_*_*_*_*_*_  
|_______________|
| -*-*-*-*-*-*-*|

and there are more aisles. I'm on the 18th floor overlooking the Tama River, which is the border between Tokyo and Kawasaki, the next county. The result is when I walk down an aisle to get a printout or coffee or something, there's a great view on both sides, making me feel precariously like I'm on an airplane. I hate to think what it would be like if there were a big earthquake when I was up there. I hear they are designed to sway and absorb the impact, resulting in the safety, and also the instant vomiting, of everyone above the second floor.

*Let's stretch!
Every day at 10am and 3pm a recording plays with a lady in a high squeaky voice cheerfully shouting out stretching excercises. this goes on for about five minutes. Most of the people don't get in until 9:45, so the 10am recording is pretty much a joke. However, when 3pm comes, I really feel like I could use a stretch.

Unfortunately all the 100+ other people on my floor roll their eyes and ignore it. That's some intense peer pressure to withstand if you want to get up and follow the dorky excercise routine!! Ah well, someday I'll be secure enough to make a fool out of myself in front of everyone and NOT EVEN CARE.

(Okay, you might as well say it, I know you're secretly thinking: "but you already are on this blog!" ..haha. Yeah you are, you know who you are ^_~)

Hee hee. Oh yeah, I turned 24! I had a small party in an izakaya(japanese style pub) in Shibuya this saturday. I normally can hold my drink, but somebody ordered two bottles of WINE *after* most of us had had a beer and two coctails each. Result? We went to karaoke afterwards.. and I only remember half of it! Oh dear. Thank goodness Takeshi was there to help get us home. Apparently I kept leading him around in circles, saying 'I know where I'm going, I go here every day!' (which is true, I change trains at Shibuya). Finally he gave up and flagged down a taxi. I woke up still wearing all my clothes (plus scarf) with my first hangover EVER! Hooray? ... ^^; Note: don't drink wine after beer. It feels like someone is jumping on your head. >_<;;

I really want to tell you all about the trains. They got way worse with my new commute. I experienced .. the pushers!! I always heard stories that when the trains get too full, evil station clerks would shove you on to try to break your bones. That is only half true. WHen the trains get too full, people get on ANYWAYS in a huge terrible masochistic rush. The train guys shout 'Don't get on!! It's dangerous! Please wait for the next train!' But more people squeeze and cram their way on, resulting in lots of pain and doors not closing.
The train guys squeeze the protruding bits (ie briefcases, coattails, limbs..) back on the train to get it out of the station. Anyways, it's scary. Once I got off to let out some people behind me, and couldn't get back on! *shudder*. But there's no parking anywhere in Tokyo, so there's not too many alternatives.

In the office, you really can't be late. I think if you're late they make you commit seppuku or something. This explains the big train rush. SO what happens when you're late but it's not your fault?... Better have an excuse note.

Yeah, I'm not kidding. Yesterday the express trains weren't running, making a lot of people late and very upset. Whole new meaning to "heads will roll"!
Hehe, glad to propagate (probably) false stereotypes. But anyways.
The nice station clerks were passing out notes: A short descirption of what happened, and exactly how late it made everyone. A veritable "Get out of seppuku free" card! Sweet!

I kept this rare specimen and am scanning it for your enjoyment!

May all of your days be wonderful and free of rush-hour trains.

Kyra

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy Belated Birthday! *hugs*

Ha, and here I thought you were going to say that everyone got up and stretched at the announcement! Lol. Maybe you could start a trend. ;-)

Hope you're enjoying the job!

~Sarah

8:51 AM  
Anonymous Kim said...

Hi Kyra

When I worked in Sakurajima we had the same dorky exercise routine at 3 o'clock - it's called "Radio Taiso" (ラジオ体操). Usually everyone ignored it, apart from the smokers who would use the time to go and have a fag break. One day, however, I did try Radio Taiso with one other colleague. It was quite embarrassing. I don't think we ever tried it again.

But you should do, just for the experience!

Kim

6:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But you already are on this blog. Oh I guess I said it too late.

Viet

5:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy B-Day. I thought you'd be turning 25, not 24.

BTW, I've decided to go to Hong Kong. If you want to visit, e-mail me! It should be great fun. Or something...

Julia

4:34 PM  

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