Thursday, August 31, 2006

Current Events

These days I've gotten into the swing of things at my new job, developing a web based system for a big shipping company.
Thinking "big shipping company" excited me at first. "woah, am I going to work in a warehouse?" I thought, imagining a costco-sized area and trucks scuttling back and forth in front of my desk.
Well, no such luck, it's in a normal office. But it IS in a factory neighborhood, right by the Tokyo bay, pretty much under the rainbow bridge. I almost have a nice view of boats scuttling back and forth in front of my desk, but alas, it's blocked by the big warehouse across the street. Grr.

I like the place I'm working, and it has some very unusual traits for a programming job:

1) 50% of my fellow developers are female
2), I guess that's pretty much it.

I'm not used to being around other girls. It's weird, I tell you! But also nice. I can finally talk about girly things and not cause eyes to glaze over, pondering other subjects while I talk about this cute shirt I bought on sale. But there are downsides.

My Fellow Females (hereon referred to as the FF) here eat together, apparently as a rule. Being unaware of this fact the first week I started working at my new place, I wandered around, exploring various lunchtime options (not many in the factory neighborhood). There is a "conbini" (AM/PM) nearby, which sells a lot of boxed lunches but gets crowded around 12, and a cafeteria on the first floor. That's IT. (oh, or bring your own lunch).

Getting sick of conbini food, on the third day or so, I took my book to the cafeteria and ate alone, amused by the honor system set in place there. Here's how you buy lunch at the cafe: (tangent alert...)

1.You buy a prepaid card.
2. Next to the food platters, there is a little machine you put your card into that charges you for the food.
3. It's not automatic. You're supposed to type in the amount posted on the sign next to that plate.

Being the "honest type" (aka a chicken), I dilligently punched in the \400 for my curry plate, and watched as my card came back with less money on it. But D00D! so not funny how easy it would be to rip off the cafeteria and never get caught!! anyways. achem.
The next day, I got a rather embarrased email from my boss.

"Dear Kyra-san", he wrote in Japanese,
" This may be a delicate subject, but I heard you had lunch all by yourself in the cafeteria yesterday. Are you "communicating" with the other people in the office?" (he literally said "communica-sion shiteimasu ka?")
The letter went on with a not-so-subtle hint.
"Y.-san and the others usually have lunch on the second floor. Why don't you join them tomorrow?"

Hm. Come to think of it, I was wondering where they went. I'd see the guys eating instant noodles in front of their computer monitors, reading comics, and then taking a twenty minute nap pretty much as a routine... but the ladies would vanish.

That lunch, I was invited by Y-san to break bread with the FF.
Nearing the second-floor meeting room, I heard giggles and the promise of scandalous stories told in low voices. This was a sound... I haven't heard since high school! I like telling anecdotes, so I fit in pretty well with the 7-8 other ladies, and actually enjoy eating with them. But eating lunch with the FF isn't all fun and games, there are rules to follow. It is not a relaxed environment.

Some of the rules of the FF lunch time (I found out by breaking them)

1) Only one person talks at once. No side conversation allowed. If you have a funny story, tell it, otherwise shut up.
this makes for times when no one is doing anything but looking down at their food and quietly munching for up to ten minutes at a time. A~kwarrrrd!

2) Once you sit down, no leaving the table until the whole group is out.
after one of the afore-mentioned events of no talk, I left the table about 15 minutes before the end of lunch. "there's something I have to do.." I said demurely, sneaking out. As soon as I left the room, a peal of laughter/snickering followed, obviously because of something I did. (what did I DO?!)

3) No bringing other things to do allowed. (book, laptop, etc) That would constitute anti-social behaviour, apparently.
once I tried bringing my sketchbook to work on Gemini, but couldn't actually bring myself to pull it out with many incessant pairs of eyes roaming the room for something to talk about.

With these three unspoken rules in place, I can't quite look forward to lunch. Don't get me wrong, though, I often enjoy myself, and get to hear funny stories in non-manly japanese, which is fun. Especially when I'M telling them. ^_~ Since we're still at work, they all use the standard version of japanese (nothing really "girly" about it), but unlike men, they speak quickly and animatedly without throwing in a bunch of bad words all over the place. ^^;

I think the rules just feel particularly constricting because right now I'm the lowest one on the totem pole. Y-san is obviously the alpha female of the group. I used to be pretty good at Judo... maybe if I challenge her to a duel I can be promoted to the upper strata of the clique and break some of the Rules when I want. ^_^

Updates on the lunch situation to come. But first, here is a really cool video of guys dancing on treadmills (stolen from Viet's blog.)

Here It Goes Again - Okgo:


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Man that just seems like a lot of pressure for lunch.

When I was at my other job, I ate out pretty often. At my new job there aren't many other young people there so I've really just been eating by myself in my cubicle followed by a 40 minute nap in my car. Thinking about it, I guess the lunch situation over here has its pressures too.

Woohoo...I got a mention.


1:57 PM  
Blogger Kyra said...

heh, you'd fit right in with the guys here. Except for the car part.
^^ btw I love your links you put up!

8:45 PM  

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