Thursday, May 31, 2007

Just let me go!

Hm, operation Quit the Job is unfolding a bit worse than expected.
Unlike America, the polite time of giving notice in Japan is one month, and I had made the deadline. I thought I'd be totally fine, no problem at all. But...I knew I was going to be in for trouble as soon as I started drafting my resignation letter two weeks ago. It went kinda like this:

I regret to inform you that this July, my husband is being ...
"Hey Takeshi, how do you say 'transfer'?
...transferred to New York. Due to this unexpected occurence, I have to offer you my...
"And how do you say 'resignation'?!"
"Heh, how would you be able to quit your job without me?"

Anyways, a week after, I nervously met with the boss, re: my letter.
The company president was also there, just to make me even nervouser. (that is apparently a word now). He asked me to tell him why I was quitting. (naturally I had totally forgotten the word for 'transfer' during my interview. )
Also I wasn't counting on my boss and company president playing 'good cop, bad cop' with me.

"Yes. Um. My husband is... um..." (dammit what's that word?)
"er,..*going* to new york, *because of his company*. We're living in his company dormitory, so life in Japan would become difficult for me if I stayed here."

President:"A-ha-ha, 'difficult'? Well, I suppose we could do something. What if we made our own company dorm?"
Boss: "Right. You have a contract until September. We'll figure something out for you."

I started a mild panic sweat. But... I don't really want to stay here. I am really starting to look forward to New York! Plus it's boring and I'm being paid 'In & Out Burger' wages.

me:"Oh. But... I thought you said our customers were willing to let me go at the end of June.."
president: "I see, you want to be with your husband. Well, that's natural. SO you'll probably want a bit of time to pack."
Boss: (cringing)"but really staying until september would be best."

Luckily for me, the good cop had more authority. At the end of the interview my boss had given me leave to quit one week before the end of June in order to move.

Or so I thought!
my boss (Bad cop) called me monday. "Kyra-san, I have some bad news. The customer needs you to stay until June 29th."

Dude, no. My FLIGHT is on the 30th. I have to fit everthing in our huge apartment into boxes! All my things will be shipping overseas at that instant! I will be living out of suitcases!
I couldn't quite say anything but odd little yelp.
Boss: "I'm not trying to bully you, but contracts come first."

Wow. Um, but I'm QUITTING. not only that but I'm LEAVING THE COUNTRY. what are you gonna do, hunt me down?... no, probably just deduct from my wages an exorbitant sum as a 'breach of contract' penalty. Oh oh oh.. just let me go...

I realized this was gonna be a headache and a half, and to buy time, fell back on the 'ol reliable :"I see. I will need to consult my husband about this." "Of course, I understand. Please call me back at your earliest convenience."

Luckily for me, I was on friendly terms with the customer (the project manager at Canon), in this case. In search of assistance, I busted into his office (or, desk. nobody has private offices in Japan, except for the president) and announced:
"Hello! Sorry to bother you, but I thought I had permission to leave on the 22nd? My company said I was supposed to work until the 29th, and I have a flight to catch and a house to pack..."
He looked at me and furrowed his brows. "That's strange. All I requested was for another one of your company employees to come and cover for you that week."
..Oh. Reeeeallly.
Apparently, my company is trying to cover my remaining week with... myself! The friendly Canon PM immediately phoned the Bad Cop and called him out on it, and I cringed as I listened to the ensuing (in very polite japanese) quarrel... 'I told you to get someone to cover the gap!' 'No one else is available!''So look harder!'
You could cut the air in the room with a knife. Frustrated, both parties agreed to talk to their superiors and come to some conclusion next week.

Is this normal?
I mean, I'm sorry I'm inconveniencing everyone, but other people *have* quit this company before. But no conclusion has yet been reached, and now there will be a BIGGER meeting (involving the customer's boss) on Monday, where I have to state my plea again. Please wish me luck, because I will be at my nervousiest.

(because obviously...ten to one I'll forget the word 'transfer'.)

Sunday, May 27, 2007

boob pudding

I'm gonna miss Japan.

I mean, I'm sure New York will be quirky and fun, but... where else can you find, at a convenience store off the highway, something as highly entertaining as boob pudding?
(for those who can't see the picture for some reason, imagine a package of two perfect half-domes of pudding with white peaks, with a proud-yet blushing anime girl as pictured on the wrapping.)

I spent a few minutes trying to figure out to whom this product was being marketed. Was it for flat-chested girls, hoping eating this magical pudding would somehow enhance their budding bosoms?( that was my first guess, but I had trouble imagining any self-conscious girl actually going up to the counter with it. Oh man. Talk about dying of embarrasment.)
More likely it's for the pervy Otaku crowd. Try NOT to picture this: A sweaty overweight guy, crouched over his computer screen, is feeling hungry... and takes out his favorite emergency backup food: anime-girl's boob pudding! He unwraps each one slowly, hungrily, first licking the peeled off backing, and then like a predator, goes in for the main course....

Are you scarred for life now? hey, don't blame me, I told you not to imagine it.

Another only-in-japan photo I got this weekend was taken out of disbelief.
In Shinjuku, on the Southern Terrace (close to Takashimaya department store) is a newly-opened Krispy Kreme dougnuts. At least, it was newly-opened, four months ago.
This otherwise unexciting snackery boasts doughnuts, coffee, and.. a five mile line!!

When K.K Tokyo first opened in December, I was amused at the large number of Tokyoites willing to brave a one-hour line outside to experience the tasty, tasty treat waiting within.
But it is now May. And the line still rivals one at Disneyland. In fact, it is longer that your average Disneyland Paris ride.

Walking past on my way to the bookstore, I just want to grab and shake these people and yell "It's just a doughnut, people!! And even if you, understandably, happen to have an insatiable hunger for a doughnut, Japan has other doughnut shops!"

I think this critical mass of lines, like a black hole, is big enough to suck in people through sheer force of gravity.... after a point, people are just getting in line because there are so many people in line .
Or perhaps this is a front for some seedier operation. Like black market kidneys. Either way, I don't get it.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

no cheeseburgers

I hate cigarette smoke. This is a horrible country to live in if you're not a can smoke just about anywhere here, and when I come home from dinner with my coworkers, my hair and clothes always smell like smoke. Ugh.

But that having been said, I think smokers have it tough. I mean, think about all the signs everywhere, telling you where you're not allowed to smoke. There are three main reasons I can think of that you shouldn't be allowed to smoke in public, and they are:

1) Cigarette smoke stinks, and is a public nuisance.
But what about people with *really* strong cologne? Or worse yet. Body Odor!! That's definitely a nuisance to everyone around, yet there are no signs.

2) Smoking is bad for one's health.
... but then again, so is a double cheeseburger with a side of fries. AND chocolate.
Once again, a disturbing lack of signs for anti-cheeseburgers.

3) Second-hand smoke is bad for all people around!
....*achem*... cars emit smoke too, if you really think about it. So where are no driving signs?

Definitely discriminatory. But no fear, concerned citizens, I've drafted up some signs myself. Feast your eyes on these puppies, they totally level the playing field...

(I can't wait for the no bad breath section on rush hour trains especially!)

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Little Gaijin in the Big Apple?!

It's strange, exciting and official: I'm moving to New York ! from July this year on, I'll be living in Manhattan. I have never been to New York, except once on a bus from Pennsylvania to JFK, and that didn't really count.

How did this craziness come about?
Takeshi's company is sending him, on an "overseas training program". This is supposed to make him internationally aware and better at English, which I find hillarious(um, he's visited LA alone 7 times to visit his AMERICAN WIFE, and we speak english at home). The best part is, now they're making him take English classes to prepare for his trip.
Apparently in the class, Takeshi has to read a text book aloud, and is then asked to comment on what he read. Ironically, his text book is full of typos. His first comment after class:
"I hate that fucking English class!"

I think if you can say that, you probably don't need to take the lessons. ^_~

Anyways, at first I was kind of thinking of staying here. I mean... it's just a few years. It would be such a pain in the ass to quit, find a place where they'll hire me , then get another job here in Tokyo. Also, I just got a raise!

... but then I realized I can't stay in this nice company dormitory anymore. And would be living by myself in a high-rent Tokyo apartment, and it wouldn't make very much sense.
... but mostly, New York is sexy!

So if you know anything about New York, or live close by, please tell me everything you know! I am information-hungry!!