It’s Not the Life I Want

He suddenly stops talking, looks at me apologetically, and says, “Sorry, Mr. Onoe, I’m talking too much, and it seems to me that I myself have only been talking so far. I’m worried whether I’m boring or tiring you, perhaps?”

I smile at his innocence and say, “Don’t worry, Mr. Yano, I’m enjoying it. My ears are all yours. Go on!”

“Ms. Yamada’s attitude toward me and my colleagues makes me mad beyond my control,” he is fuming, “she thinks we are not human beings, just a cog of a gigantic machine. I’ve tried to be patient and tried to ignore her, but it’s beyond my limit. Only heaven knows how she is able to sleep at night after sharing her malevolence with telephone operators, so atrociously. Everyone hates her and can’t stand her, which is the universal truth. Do you know, Mr. Onoe, why I’ve asked to transfer to another position? I just don’t want to see her anymore and can no longer endure hearing her hysterical voice. She always comes to me and yells at me because of my slowness. I always try to do my best and want to work my own rhythm, but she constantly pressures me. She always tells me that average telephone operators pick up twenty-five phone calls per day, but I always pick up ten to fifteen phone calls a day. Therefore, I’d better work harder; otherwise, she can’t let me stay here. It’s impossible for me to enjoy working under her constant threats. Every morning, I feel so depressed going to work. It’s not the life I want. Five days ago, a terrible incident happened. Of course, you know, sometimes clients demand too much from us and complain about our services with a shower of insulting words. That happened to me five days ago.”

Do They Think We Are Immortal?

He wipes his glasses because the steam from the food clouds them. He puts them on again and says excitedly, “Mr. Onoe, you are amazing. You know, most people tell me that I have to get a good job and have a career first. And after that, I can go see the world, or I can do whatever I want to do, but it’s absolutely nonsense, I know. Do they think we are immortal? I am a mortal, Mr. Onoe. Time is passing by me, day by day. I can’t wait to see the world when I am decrepitude by a stressed job. I really think you always tell the truth and the right thing. I feel that you know exactly what you want from your life and what you want to do for the rest of your life. Japanese people don’t know what they want to do in their lives, they have no desire except making money to buy expensive things, and they just fritter their time away making money: They only care about outside appearances. I think you have a special quality that differentiates you from other Japanese. You’re carrying a bright torch inside you, Mr. Onoe. That’s why your eyes always shine like distant stars. And you are right again here; life is only one time, so why do I have to stay only in Japan? Yes, Mr. Onoe, why don’t I see the world? Whenever I talk to you, everything seems so simple. Allow me to tell you why I decided to take this job. Because I want to save money to go to Canada or other countries to see different sorts of life from Japan, but my resolution is crumbling away right now. I have to tell you about my secret: I hate Ms. Yamada so much. I can’t stand her temper and can’t endure her shower of insults anymore!”

Why Don’t You See the World?

Here Mr. Yano starts realizing that we have not ordered food yet. He apologizes me for talking too much before ordering anything, “What do you want to order, Mr. Onoe?”

“I’ll order katsu-curry and coke.”

“Excuse me, I would like to have sukiyaki-don and green tea, and katsu-curry and coke for him.”

“You know, Mr. Onoe, I’ve never been any countries and have only known of Japan in all my life. I’m just wondering what the other parts of world are like. I don’t think the other countries that are as lifeless as Japan. I want to go to Canada someday, because many people tell me that Canada is very beautiful and free country. You told me that you’ve been in Canada for several years. What do you think? Should I go to Canada?”

“Mr. Yano, I’ve been knocked about the world a wee bit, but Vancouver is the most beautiful city I’ve ever been to in my adventures. If you go there, you will feel that people are so friendly, not tense all the time like Japanese always are, not rushing everything like Japanese always do, but taking time to do something. Vancouver has a lot of beautiful sceneries that you’ll love, for sure. I really recommend you should go there someday so that you can see a different life. Life is one time, Mr. Yano, why don’t you see the world?”

I’m a Human Being

As soon as we arrive at Jonathan’s, he starts confessing me, “I don’t understand the way of Japanese life. It doesn’t make any sense to me. As I told you before, I didn’t look for any permanent job after my graduation, because I didn’t want to participate in Japanese nonsense age structural society. I don’t understand why I have to respect and use polite words for a person who just happens to be a year older than me. It’s crazy – it also corrupts Japanese because most Japanese are nobody. It’s very sad fate to be born as Japanese, indeed. I guess nobody respects ordinary Japanese because they are nonentities. Consequently, they invented the age structural society so that older people are respected by younger people. In doing so, they feel important among themselves and no longer feel useless. They always want to be respected because of their insignificant existences, so immediately they meet a person who is just a year younger than themselves, they become arrogant and behave condescendingly as if they knew everything under the sun and as if they were better than him. It’s so ridiculous to me, you know, Mr. Onoe, as soon as they know they are older than me, they completely change their attitude toward me and even their way of language. At the first, they talk to me with polite language because they don’t know how old I am, but as soon as they discover they are older than me, they start looking down on me. That’s why I didn’t want to work for a company where the situation is worse. As an employee, I can’t say anything on my mind to my boss, but just obey what my boss says even if my boss orders me to do total nonsense and gives me a boring joke – I have to obey and pretend to laugh at ridiculously boring jokes which make me suffer a lot. However, my colleagues seem not to care as long as they are paid. It seems to me that they are not human beings, but just a bunch of money mongers. I sometimes wonder if they have any feelings and pride. I’m a human being, Mr. Onoe; it doesn’t suit me because I am not a machine and have feelings. I can’t work like a robot –”

I Survived Today!

Thank God! Job is over! I survived today! Light as a bird I am skipping on my way to Sibuya Station to catch a train. It is as though I had been released from a prison. But soon enough, the sight of crowded people that make me irritated and disgusted diminishes my high spirit. I can see only exhausted people’s faces, traffic jams, and grotesque skyscrapers. While crossing a bridge, I hear someone calling my name over my shoulder, “Mr. Onoe, are you going home?”

“Yes, Mr. Yano, I am exhausted emotionally. How about you?”

“No, I am looking for you because I want to have a word with you. I always want to talk with you, but I never have an opportunity to talk with you after work. You seem anxious to me whenever the finishing time approaches, and as soon as working hours are over, you sneak out of the office like a fugitive.”

“Ha-ha-ha, you are a funny guy, Mr. Yano. But I can’t bear the office’s atmosphere. You know we have a bunch of idiots –”

“Mr. Onoe, I admire you so much because you always tell the truth. Yes, our office has a bunch of idiots, I admit. By the way, Ms.Yamada always yells at you, but you seem not to care about anything and work as if nothing happened. It seems to me that you are always on your own way. It’s a rare character among Japanese, Mr. Onoe. Are you hungry? Can I invite you to dinner? Can you spare your precious time with me? I know a number of books are waiting to be studied at your home, because you are a serious man with literature at your heart, but I really need to talk with you.”

“Sure, Mr. Yano. Let’s eat something delicious.”

“I don’t have enough money to invite you to an expensive restaurant, but I know a place where we can eat delicious food cheaply.”

Mr. Yano is my only colleague with whom I let myself talk. He is twenty-four years old and has a lot of curiosity about life. He graduated from Tokyo University a year ago, but he did not look for a permanent position, because he could not see any sense working for a Japanese company and thought that it is an insane idea for him to work under the Japanese working conditions. Instead of like other graduates who look for opportunities to have a permanent job, he took a part-time job to have a time to think about his future for a while. But the problem was that he could not earn enough money to support himself, so he reluctantly decided to work for Benefit One.