In Case of Emergency…

Work screed alert: If my writing about work at a large Japanese electronics company doesn’t tickle your fancy, please take a minute to bite me (I’m tired of e-mails dictating what I can and cannot write about, particularly ones from “Japan experts”. Go and kiss chrysanthemums somewhere else.).
Now then. Suppose that you were late for work on the first day of the new fiscal year, and that you walked into the office as your co-workers were halfway through the “morning exercise” routine. Would you:
A. Enthusiastically do jumping-jacks with the rest of the sheep while moving toward your desk
B. Sit at your desk and wait for normalcy to return while starting up your PC
C. Upon seeing the madness as you entered the room, quietly slip back out the door and lurk in the john for a few minutes
D. Run into the room, scream “FIRE”, and run back out
I am not a total ovine quite yet as I chose B. A guy who sits close to me opted for A, and another opted for C. Now that I have had my ass chewed off for choosing B, I wish that I had instead chosen D. A brand new senior manager made a point of getting in my face about not performing the exercises, which would be fine except that he did it out loud so that everybody could hear, a full-on drill sergeant dressing-down. Luckily, the general manager, who is a great friend, stepped in and squashed the whole thing, ending with “Anybody else who can do the work Justin does is entitled to ignore the exercises as well, hell I might stop doing them myself.” As flattering as that statement was, about 50,000 red warning lights went off in my head at once and all I could think of was getting out from between two duelists. The room was silent. Nobody in the office is coming over to chat today. It’s days like this when I really look forward to my future life in Thailand, perhaps tending a herd of water buffalo or chasing flocks of birds away rice paddies with the kids.
I wish I had kids already. I would go home tonight and sit with them at dinner and they would ask what I did at work today. I would say, “kids, today daddy became a pawn in an inter-office power play!”
“Wow, coooool” they would reply.
Then I would relate to them all that happened today in detail and what was to be learned from it all. Which is, of course, “if you ever walk into an uncomfortable situation, scream ‘FIRE’ at the top of your lungs and run out of the room as fast as you can.”

5 thoughts on “In Case of Emergency…”

  1. Hahaha! That’s awesome. Do you ever do morning calisthetics, or do you always just sit and avoid eye contact with everyone else? Do they play that annoying music with the Japanese guy counting out “Iich! Ni! San! Shi!” over and over again?
    I think I would have glanced in the doors and spent the time in limbo heading for the closest vending machine (maybe there are none in your workplace, so maybe I would substitute a bathroom break).If I were you, I would hope that your general manager friend doesn’t get transferred, or else you, my friend, are gonna have to start doing jumping jacks.

  2. Yeah I do the morning exercises on days I don’t go in late. So maybe ten times a year. We are on a flex schedule and can choose our hours. I just don’t like getting sweaty before starting desk work in the morning, and it was hot yesterday. As far as the accompanying music, yes, it’s the tune you refer to (there are actually two versions of it that change every six months) as well as one written just for our company. The whole exercise thing feels very commie and I dislike it; it reinforces my feeling that work is prison.
    At this point, it is not a question of if somebody will be transferred. It’s WHO will be tranferred, and how soon. I’m keeping my head down for the time being.

  3. Hi.
    Am tired and trying to write something here.
    I think your company should put you in a good position in air con’d office with 100 mbps hikari cabled PC plus everything, in the country side of whereever you may live after Japan, coz they have enough money and technology, huh.Maybe they will have a loooooooooooong cable from Awaji-shima just for you.
    Or , just own a nice open air bar, I just dream of being a regular guest of the bar and paying hundreds of cokes for the people working there and a lot of beer for myself.
    Thought and thought of having an office spending 100 dollars for Vietnam business.
    I think it not be worth it. Having a 300 dollar month rent for the office? Nope, I won’t be making more than 100 dollars a month there for sure. By the way, I have never thought of having kids yet. To be a father is not yet for me.

  4. Kids like good stories about real barnyard animals, the gorier, the better. Just wait, you’ll see. Hang in there and remember, exercise is a good thing, mostly. Ichi, ni, san, shi!

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