A real life-world

Today I had a rather rare incident of humiliation. The beginning of it all was last week when (and as usual) I was told to accompany his business trip to Kyoto a day before the day. That was all I heard, no knowledge of what the purpose of the trip, what was expected in kyoto, and what was expected of me.

Anyway, the trip was to have a meeting with retired academic – who is an anthropologist and social-biologist. MOA has collaboratedwith him once before, and since this guy only retired last year, now he’s seeking the way forward and MOA is considering if and how he may be useful to us.

The trip was fine, and I enjoyed it. The following day, I was to write a report of the meeting, which went ok. Then I took comments from the participants of the meeting (there were 3 executives at the meeting), and the No.2 seemed happpy with the job.


So, I took a sigh of releaf, and got on with my other job that I was taking on.


And I was hit by the lightning this afternoon. Some inconspicuouis document were handed to me, a copy of some sort of a contract. The boss was speaking loudly ‘Let him deal with it.’ But I wasn’t given any instructions as to what I should do with it. Having gathered vaguely what the document meant, I prepared a tentative draft of a contract with the academic. That was a good move, as Mr N came asking for the document with a brief ‘is it ready?’


So I gave it to him and took it as the job’s done. Then, he disappeared into his office room, appeared again, told me to phone the academic and tell him he was in an important meeting with other executive discussing the academic’s contractability, and that he would fax the academic of the result of the meeting as soon as it came out. I had no contact details of the academic but there was no sign of it being given by the No.2.


Here’s a little how de due. This is one of the situations to be avoided at any cost – but I wasn’t aware of what’s going on or who to turn to for help. to be fair, though, my colleagues are usually very helpful and sympathetic with me. and this time wasn’t an exeption. With all the help I could make use of, I got the phone number and dialled. It was a high-pitch bleep that greeted me. So I hang up and tried the number again a few minutes later. No answer. Then I tried again, and again. I wondered if I should tell Mr N of the situation, but against my better judgement I waited half an hour before I actually executed my reporting to him.


He just erupted. Shouted in the office, in front of everyone, calling me ‘KY’ – which is by the way a phrase in vogue at the moment. KY stands for someone who’s insensitive or too dumb to recognise the current of the situation or surroundings, or often, the fact that he’s not in tune with the others around him. (KY is a short for ‘kuuki yomenai’ with an ommision of ‘hito’ altogether literally reads ‘someone who cannot read the air.’ ) He meant, at the time he told me to make the phone call, there was a delicate situation with the negotiation with the academic and it was in his calculated strategy to delay the response with some (rather obvious) excuse, and I should have known it and reported the academic’s absense immediately.

Of course I didn’t know it, and how could I? And of course, I did not utter these words. 

I could see he wasn’t really mad at me, but he’s been known (and feared by many) to be very difficult and short-tempered, with all the authoritative power in hand. For that reason, when he breaks out, the tension in the office goes right up. And of course I was subjected to miserable sympathy, some silent, others  verbal, which is totally unnecessary.


Anyway, so the afternoon simply flew away as I was in a panic trying to sort myself out, and not really knowing how to.


This is the way the No.2 prefers to ‘train’ me and I can sort of see it in his grin. Well, never mind. It was quite a day.


Only, the thing is, if there’s something unclear or if you’re unsure about something in the job you’re given, you can ask the boss to clarify – oh no, not in Japan, and certainly not in this office here. If you are not sure of something in the job you’re given by the No.2 (or perhaps the No.1 also), all you can do is to guess and hope the choice you’ve made is the right one (but also you can ask other people who might have some clues, perhaps someone in other departments. So, personal connections are a must-have tool in this world).

 and how are you?



About Dr Kats

a working sociologist/linguist/translator based in Kobe, Japan
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