The manager for the packaging design department came to me with a blank procurement form last year and said, “Fill these out. We need a new Mac; you have 1,000,000 yen to spend on it.” My mind was instantly filled with images of a dual processor G5, Apple Cinema display, striped and mirrored SCSI backup system, Firewire-powered cappuccino maker, etc., you know, The Perfect System. I almost cried. (I say “almost” because this would have been a dream in my Mac maven phase, say five or six years ago.)
Well, I came even closer to crying today when I saw how this new girl, the Designated Mac Operator in the design room was using the Perfect System. She had the 23″ Apple Cinema HD Display (max. resolution 1,920 x 1,200) at the lowest resolution possible, 800 x 500 while laying out pages in PageMaker. I couldn’t believe my eyes even though I watched her 1337 operating skillz for a good 5 minutes over her shoulder. The only possible analogy I can come up with would be sitting two feet from a movie screen; as in TOO CLOSE to a good thing. My man, the folders on the desktop (to mix metaphors) were the size of matchbooks. I later found out that she lowers the resolution instead of using zoom tools in the DTP programs. Amazing.
Found an article from last month that hit close to home:
Competition stiffens to work oneself to death
Let Salaryman tell you something about dedication: Too much can kill, and blind dedication is either for the young, or for well-paid upper management. Even in these two cases, there is only so much you can accomplish before you break down.
With that in mind, keep it real and work your ass off. By playing your cards right, your investment of time and life energy will eventually be returned in the form of work experience and maybe a nice watch (standard-issue salaryman bling-bling).
Ulcers. Yes, it seems everybody has them around here. Like everyone else, I have a horror story. Two years ago, my senior partner on a prototyping project sat up quite suddenly in his seat and handed me a stack of documents. His eyes were bulging as he bent over and proceeded to noisily vomit blood into the wastebasket. Then he slumped over in his chair and the girls in the room started screaming. When the departmental manager left the room to find the nurse on call, homeboy opened his eyes, pointed to the aforementioned stack of papers, and said “tanomu wa” (Get it done.).
Now, this guy is a legend. He is the most dedicatedist motherfucker I have ever met, and a pain in the ass to work for because of his scrupulousness – he put the “ei” in “einaru”, if you know what I mean. And he ended up spewing entrail juice. Coincidence? Hardly. So that is the moral of this story – the most dedicated person in the office always ends up vomiting blood.
Lying on my desk is a document entitled:
Lohms vs. Orifice Size
I don’t know who put it there, but apparently I get to make a presentation on it later this morning. in Japanese! Yay!
Welcome to the modern state of technical translation, where a total ignoramus like myself can hop on the Al Gore Expressway and become an expert on any specialized subject matter in a matter of seconds – and before you ask, no, a Lohm is not a penis (but an orifice is, well, an orifice). A Lohm is a Liquid ohm – get it? Ohms are units used to express electrical resistance, so morphazenilinguistically speaking, Lohms are the units used for liquid resistance. This unit of measure, when pronounced by my Japanese colleagues, sounds like “Rohm”, which is an electronics component maker based in Kyoto. (Sorry if you thought I was going to continue in the vein of fluid dynamics; the best I can do for you there is to promise a future update about writing my name in the snow.)
I wrote a slogan for Rohm’s public relations department when I first started my career as a non-gaijin-looking gaijin in a translation company years ago. It didn’t seem like a special job or anything, they just needed a catch line for a “small advertising effort” in English and they faxed over some sentences in Japanese to base it on (BTW they had a G4 fax machine that seemed super fast compared to standard G3 fax machines but often suffered from mysterious transmission failures.). I ended up creating three or four different variations for them to choose between and thought little of what would become of it thereafter. Turns out they ended up using it in their radio and television commercials, which were aired quite frequently on national television. It was also used on company brochures, posters, etc., and somewhat less gloriously, on the back covers of obscure trade magazines with names like “Precision Mounted Chip Design” and “Capacitors Weekly.” I admit, I was proud whenever I saw my words out in the real world. (I feel free to talk about it now because they are no longer using it on their website and the posters in the subway stations are long gone. Also, regardless of what I post below, I think it was a great ad campaign and hope it was a success for Rohm.) In a way, I felt silly on the importance being placed on a simple phrase I thought up at the spur of the moment. Then again, simplicity is often the best option, and it was gratifying to see my words in print and pixel broadcast to millions. Millions and millions of potential clients who might make a decision based on seeds planted in their heads by effective advertising. And if it sounds like it started getting to my head, that’s because it did at the peak of the ad campaign.
Sometimes the commercials would come on when I was watching TV with other people (sometimes clients) and it was a turbo-nitro ego boost when the leggy models in the ads paraded around futuristic space-and-satellite backdrops with my words flowing out of their mouths. People I was with would usually give me props and I would just bask in the glory as everyone came to the realization that, in a way, these girls were actually my mindslaves. Through the looking glass of manga/Kubrickian reality where my reasoning takes vacations after steady consumption of alcohol, the mindslaves on the screen seemed completely powerless to resist. They returned to the screen at regular intervals to convey my thoughts. They awaited further orders. They waited for anything, some kind of sign or command. There they remain to this day. Faithfully waiting.
OK, so maybe it got to my head a little bit more than I care to admit, but it was still kinda cool for a salaryman who was just starting out and trying to make his mark on the world. Especially when the cute models were replaced by a fly. Not just any fly. The Fly. According to this Japanese fan site, Rohm chose Jeff Goldblum because his role as a scientist in the movie Jurassic Park (released in Japan shortly after the commercials started airing) perfectly fit the image of the company’s high tech products (and also because he was new to Japandering). As a famous actor later to be known for 13375ki11s with a Powerbook, and used to dealing with the mind games and manipulation that is show biz, would he be impervious to my powers? Heh.
There’s just nothing like taking a long vacation overseas and then facing up to that first day back at work, is there? The night before is spent wondering just how in the hell you will face up to the horrors you have been so diligently erasing from memory in faraway lands, on magic beaches… Today is my second day back, and I feel lucky to have made it this far; on my way to work yesterday I was possessed by the sudden urge to pass the turnoff for the company parking lot and get on the highway instead, destination Anywhere but Here. I think the sight of the big company logo in the distance triggered a kind of fight or flight reaction, and I was tempted, however momentarily, to pull a Sir Robin. But then my inbred Japanese subservience kicked in and I got my ass in the office and behind my desk like a good salaryman.
Our time in the states was great fun, thanks to all. I will be posting notable photos soon, possibly in between unpacking and doing other fun stuff at home.
Oh yeah, it’s my favorite time of the week, every week: The Friday Work Wind-down Period. This is the period that my employers should take special care not to speak to me or expect me to function in any other mode than Weekend Anticipation Mode. Unfortunately, some stateside clients feel it is necessary to shoot nasty thorns in my high spirits with their Thursday Angst Specials, but there’s a cure for that, son – leave the mail unopened and claim there were “network problems on Friday” when you return to work next week!
It’s only fair because I just got the same excuse from the clients themselves! They claim it took a mail I sent ten days to reach them because of “less than optimal bandwidth” and the fact that their accounts are “centrally managed and sorted”!?! WTF does that mean? Everyone uses mail servers and routers too, but do we blame it on that shit? (No, we blame it on more plausible scenarios like “corrupted databases” and “Microsoft operating systems.”)
I mean you just gotta be kidding me. I could slice my pinky finger with my ingrown toenails, scrawl out a note in blood on a white-speckled carrier pigeon, shove the whole stupid-ass bird in a nearly empty Stoli bottle (which I just happen to have in my kitchen next to an unopened one) head-first, toss the corked bottle off the pier near my house in the general direction of the Great Satan and the message would STILL get there sooner than TEN FUCKING DAYS. And that bandwith bullshit… I mean, what planet is your multinational corporation’s mail servers located on? Planet Pakketloss? Planet Diayllupp? Planet Sub-AOLSPD? (Note to my 4th grade teacher Ms. Watkins who had nice legs for an old person: SOME GODDAMN MOTHERFUCKING PROFANITY FOLLOWS.) DEAR CORKY, THIS IS THE YEAR 200(ANDFUCKING)3 AND DIRTY MONGOLIAN SHEEPHERDERS CAN SURF FOR ‘HOT BLACK SEX KITTENS’ WHILE SIPPING CURDLED YAK BUTTER TEA (vintage 1986) ON THE STEPPES AND RECEIVE MAIL VIA INVISIBLE “RADIO WAVES” FASTER THAN THE TEN FUCKING DAYS IT SUPPOSEDLY TOOK MY THREE-WORD MESSAGE TO REACH YOU.
Message body of the e-mail in question is reproduced below, in full:
Yes, please hurry.
If I get enough traffic for searches on “HOT BLACK SEX KITTENS,” all is forgiven.
Sometimes working in a factory office with constipated old men really has its downs. I have been waiting to take a crap for a couple of hours now. Its not that there are no stalls free – in fact, I could have been done with my business two hours ago if that were the only concern. The big problem is the stench. The stench that even I, the veteran of a thousand outhouses ripened by the summer sun and open pits at outdoor concerts, the back of temples, etc., cannot bear for more than two seconds. I wish there were a menu especially geared for those over 45 years of age (a full third who work here at my company fall into this bracket) at the cafeteria here, taking the odiferousness of feces during work hours into consideration. Because every time I work up the nerve to head to the bathroom (3 times in the past 90 minutes), I get a whiff of semi-digested ebi-fry (deep-fried prawns) from waaaay down the hall and immediately turn back to the sanctuary of stale cigarette smoke and pasty salarysweat in my office.
To my fellow workers, some of who I know are surreptitiously viewing this blog under orders from corporate HQ: Laying atom bombs in the john are uncalled for in this day and age. I surrender unconditionally in advance; just let me do my business. Soon.
Well, my Yapeus account is toast it seems. The admin hosed everybody’s moblog data, although they have a backup from September. I’m very glad I decided to consolidate all my bloggage with MT.
Regarding this site, I’m still having trouble with the design, mainly because I can’t spare a full day or two to tweak the way I like to – straight through in a single session, that is.
On another note, today my manager pissed me off so bad I fantasized about… with a… but instead of giving into my anger like a baaad padawan I thought about my happy place and sang the Happy Tree Friends song in my head and then silently dissented by going home early.
But I’m much better now.
I’m back to work after a long respite and it’s kinda like getting elbowed in the stomach as far as the level of enjoyment. Yesterday was the first day back, and man, it was like summer vacation never happened – both analog and digital inboxes overflowing, phones ringing off the hook, and of course the obligatory Boringest Meeting of All Time in between it all. Almost went postal, but then thought about how hard it would be for my colleagues to pronounce that word correctly and that made me feel a little better.
I have manymany photos up at the yapeus moblog that I sent from my phone during vacation. None of them are annotated yet, so I should just break out the silver tincture and a belt sander and get on with it, I guess.
I drove to a Lawson’s (convenience store) today to buy bottled water on my lunch break. It seems I am doing this with increased frequency lately. There is something inherently unappetizing about eating in the company cafeteria… Maybe I just don’t enjoy being in the company of a thousand other people during my meals. Reminds me of elementary school, big time.
For starters, men and women sit separately. I shit you not. The split is about 70% males to 30% females and you can draw the line from where the unofficial but quite visible “men’s area” starts. This was the most surprising sight my first day here, three years ago or so. I even asked my manager about it. HE said it’s because “this factory is out in the country.” Yeah, that’s probably it. That’s also why among 3,000 or so employees there are no women in management positions here – ZERO! Now that’s hardcore boy’s club mentality if I’ve ever seen it. And I am now the only foreigner here. Good thing I blend in.
Well, I was originally going to post this on my moblog, but it suits here better. This whole post reminds me how I’ve left my salaryman series just hanging for like two years. I had to stop writing it because it was no longer funny to me, it just got sad. But as evidenced by my recent spurts of writing – I’m making a comeback.
Now hurry up and finalize Typepad so I can can Blogger forever!
Well, I barely made it through this week. Working with clients that are powerful and inefficient is kind of like driving a jeep – it’s fun once in a while, when you want to do it for the thrill, but if becomes a day in and day out kind of affair, it becomes a chore. Whatever that sad-ass analogy means.
Tired. Tired. Hungry. But tired.
Have to pack. Going to Thailand tomorrow! But must eat. Must sleep. Must wake up at 5:00 AM!?! What the hell kind of vacation is that?