I had to blog about this. I started to get dreams about Japan and realised I needed to get some things out of my system.
I noticed that I hadn’t really explained why I went to Japan in the first place either. Just to let you know, I have left. I was given residency and I gave it up. I’ll write things down in steps just so it’s not a complete mess.
a) I was a salaryman – yes, I worked in Japan. I went to Japan to work full-time. I wasn’t an English teacher. I worked for a Japanese firm doing English translation, something along the lines like that. I worked with Japanese staff and also foreign staff from around the world. I was basically a salaryman. A salaryman in Japan means a white collar worker who earns a basic wage and dedicates their life to work. They put their work on a high pedestal, even above their families, friends and their own health – meaning, I worked 8am until 9 or 11pm every night. And had to go back to work the next day, waking up at 7am, getting on a jam-packed train. Monday to Friday.
Karoshi is “death by overwork”….and its very real in Japan. Lots of people commit suicide. In fact, my train to work has been delayed a few times became someone committed suicide. There’s even a movie about a guy who who commits suicide by jumping in front of an incoming train. And what else did it show? Abuse at the workplace (see point D of today’s post).
b) Japanese staff didn’t talk to foreign staff. Which meant they weren’t interested in talking to me. Forget anime. All of it is just…not real in terms of reflecting Japanese people or culture. Japanese people aren’t like anime. They’re serious and quiet at work and they keep to themselves (or at least, in my workplace the people were like that).
Picture below: The Japanese drama “I’m home”, about a man who sees his wife and kid as wearing a mask after a freak accident.
The Japanese staff also didn’t like talking to the foreign staff in the company I worked in. My company’s atmosphere was mostly deathly, suffocating-silent. I found my work culture cold and as if all the employees had a mask on their face all the time. I couldn’t tell their emotions and what they were saying, because I didn’t know Japanese, which leads to me to my next point….
c) I didn’t know Japanese when I went, and I regretted it. At some points, my lack of Japanese proficiency made my life difficult. I couldn’t understand what the 7-11 guy was saying to me. I couldn’t understand the train conductor. I couldn’t even order a McDonalds without pointing. And often, when the person I was speaking to noticed I was foreigner, they were not so friendly. So yes, learning Japanese would be beneficial if you are seriously planning to move to Japan or work, like how I did. I felt like I was missing out on TONNES of things (and I was).
d) My second senior verbally abused me. EVERY SINGLE DAY.
First things first, I’ve worked in quite a few places. I’ve always gotten along with people, I can work with a lot of characters and personalities. I always try to do my best at work. If you really want to know, before I went to Japan, I was a recruiter. I worked in a team and worked with many managers.
NOW….if you work in a place and you have this manager or supervisor who keeps yelling at you, LEAVE THAT JOB. It’s not worth it. Or, you can stick at it, only if you have a thick skin or whatever. But for me, in the long term, it is NOT WORTH IT. My first senior left a few months in and her senior became my second senior to continue my training. Do you know what the worst part was? We spoke on my first week and I thought she was very nice, and we went out for dinner maybe around my second week. Then I got invited to her church where I found out she was Christian. And then KABLAM once I went under her, this person becomes the motherfucking alpha Godzilla bitch of the workplace. It maybe wasn’t personal, or whatever, but I tried so damn hard. At first, I thought it was just the way she was and I just had to adapt so I did everything the way she liked, listened to her advice, took notes etc… but everytime I brought something for her to check, she would just rage at me and tell me it was wrong. She glared at me, slammed files on my desk, snatched files out of my hands, yelled at me in front of the whole damn office for my incompetence and how incompetent I was.
The first time that happened, I was surprised by her personality and her actions. I was still in training, so how was I supposed to know? Anyway, being the doormat I was, I apologised, told her that I’d re-do my work, took my work back to my desk and worked on it the way she wanted. I brought it back and the same thing happened.
I was yelled at, scolded, I was accused of not listening to her, not doing my work, trying to get out of my work, being lazy and almost everything. And again, I would listen to her, take notes, and the next time I got a task and it was something I knew, I was like: “Hey, that’s what I did yesterday” so I did it the way I thought was right, the way she wanted and how she taught me and showed it to her for checking, and then guess what I got? NO. A big fat NO. Huh???? “But you told me this was how to do it!” NO. STILL NO. Take it away and do it again, it’s not right. “Excuse me? But you were the one who told me that’s how you do it!” Oh well, it no longer applied and you didn’t listen to me again and so its wrong.
There was no way round it. So in the end, I was degraded and humiliated in front of an entire office everyday. For 9 hours a day. Monday to Friday.
Now I know how Theon Greyjoy feels.
And she was a Christian. I think I’m more Christian than you, girl!
e) Thinking about it now, I can’t believe I didn’t do anything about it. I just let it happen to me. Yep, I think that’s what hurt me the most. I didn’t do anything, partially because she was my senior and there was no-one else to teach me, and I wanted to do well. I wanted to be able to do my work. I went out during the weekend, I enjoyed Japan. I took photos and selfies, I visited anime stores, shrines and shopping. But I wasn’t smiling in my photos.
f) I also missed my family and friends. It happens. The crippling loneliness, no matter what, no matter when or where. I thought I was doing well, until I saw my mum and sister through Skype and I told them what was going on and was happening to me at work. I felt like I was drifting apart. I cried and was genuinely upset by the treatment at work. But what about the rest of the foreign staff who’d been there longer than I had?
g) I just have the worst luck in the world. Other people joined after me. They were put into other teams and had nicer seniors. They were able to do the work. They enjoyed it, to a certain extent, I guess. I wondered what it was like to join other teams?
h) So then I was finally moved to another team. And guess what? I had to work until 12am on my first day. I woke up the next morning and felt like shit. After all the verbal abuse, I felt useless and stupid. I was paranoid and scared to show my work to people. I was scared of being yelled at and being told I was incompetent. I was paranoid and kept asking people to check my work countless of times, asking if it was okay or not. I was like a beaten dog cowering in the corner. I lost all my motivation.
Anyway, that’s all I have to say. Oh wait, there’s something else.
i) THAT JAPANESE DUDE. Right okay, so there was some Japanese dude who worked in the office. He had great hair (like all guys in Japan) and I thought he was cute. I had a dream where he spoke to me in English. I was like “Whoa!” and at work, I unintentionally kept looking up everytime when people would round a corner near my desk and everytime I looked up, he was always there. Damn, I probably had some sixth sense or something. We never spoke. I wore my ugliest clothes to work because I worked so goddamn late I didn’t give a fuck anymore. I didn’t even know his name until I looked at the seating chart. Probably has a girlfriend. Oh whatever. We’re countries apart. It was never meant to be.
Ahhh, finally, I got this out of my system.
I hope I can sleep a bit better at night now.