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.

Money Makes People Crazy

Why do I have to pretend? It is very easy, money. I have never comprehended the meaning of money because it seems just a piece of paper to me. If I do not have money, I cannot do anything, because people always ask for it when I ask them small favors. The society system is wrong from the beginning, because every single human being must depend on money if he wants to live. Because of money, I have to pretend so that I can get a job to earn it. Because of money, I have to pretend to agree with my supervisor all the time so that I get paid. Because of money, I am humiliated, nervous, depressed, frustrated, vexed, insulted, melancholic, dispirited, anxious, distressed, agitated, etc. Money makes people crazy. Because of money, people make wars; because of money people kill each other; because of money, women become prostitutes; because of money, people betray each other; because of money, people are suffering and hungry. Every negative thing that has happened to the world so far stems from money. Once I thought that I would have to help people and try to fight against the society system, but people are so ignorant. If I fight against evil, it will be something worthwhile, but if I fight against stupidity, it will be helpless. I have shifted my aim swiftly and have tried to rescue only myself from nonsense, but my helpless tribulations have still not let me go and been gripping my neck firmly.

Do Not Want to Pretend to Be Someone Else Anymore

I just do not want to pretend to be someone else; I just want to be who I truly am every single day. However, it is so difficult for me to be true to myself because of the Japanese society system. If I decide to be true myself, I am perfectly sure that I will be fired immediately, and I cannot find a job anywhere. To get a job in Japan, I have to pretend to be someone else during a job interview and tell what they want to hear, but I do not believe any single word I utter, which is torture to me. It makes me unbearably nauseated to say what I do not believe whenever I get a job interview; however, I have to if I want to get a job.

Working for a company exactly the same pretenses are required. I should: pretend to obey every single nonsense that my supervisor says; pretend to do what I am sick of; pretend to talk with my colleagues about how to improve job environments; pretend to make a smile when I want to cry with humiliation; pretend to be doing something when in fact, I am doing nothing, because in Japan even if you have nothing to do at an office, you have to pretend to keep occupied with something, otherwise, your boss is going to scowl at you for doing nothing; etc. I just do not want to pretend to be someone else anymore, but it is impossible for me as long as I stay in Japan.

The Individuality Is the Starting Point

Working five days a week is constantly a dilemma to me because I do not believe in what I am doing. I have only one ambition – being a writer. I just want to enjoy my life and want to write books every single day. It sounds simple enough for you, but it has been so difficult for me to achieve.

I absolutely believe that we have only one obligation to fulfill – we should realize who we truly are. Everyone has his own uniqueness, so one should discover his own unique being and respect his individuality. I have always thought that if everyone starts trying to perceive what he really wants to do for the rest of his life and starts living his life according to his individuality, the world will become a better place to live, and people will become happier. We cannot change a big thing immediately, but we can start changing a small thing. Therefore, when one begins acting who he truly is according to his heart’s desire, he will be definitely happier every day. His happy soul will influence his neighbors and so on and so forth. It will be contagious. Eventually, this single individual happy soul will become a bunch of collective happy souls around the world, and then the world will become a happy place. The individuality is the starting point. It might sound silly to you, but I still believe in it with all my heart.

You Must Obey Japanese Rules

As soon as I went back to the office and sat down on my chair, the bitch rushed toward me like a bull, as if she determined to crash me to pieces. She fired at me, “Mr. Onoe, what on earth are you thinking? Do you know what time is it now?”

“I guess around 2:30 p.m. now,” I replied calmly.

My calmness aggravated her, and she exploded, “Mr. Onoe, it’s unforgivable and beyond my patience. As you know, the company allows you to take a lunch break for only an hour, but you took over ninety minutes today. Are you totally insane or out of your mind? A normal person has a conscience and feels guilty when he is late coming back to the office from the break – immediately comes to me in order to make an apology, but you’re always behaving as if nothing happened and seem not to care if you come back here late. Let me explain, Mr. Onoe. The company is paying your salary by hours, so even in your thirty-minute absence, you are paid. Do you understand what I am talking about? Everyone comes back to the office from the break on time and even five minutes earlier, so that they can get ready for afternoon’s work, but you never come back to the office from the break on time and are constantly being late by ten or fifteen minutes. I can’t let this situation continue anymore because it’s unfair to everyone.”

But here I could no longer refrain myself from interrupting her tirade, and I said impulsively, “Excuse me, Ms. Yamada, in Mexico nobody cares how long employees take a break, but they care if they’re finished with their duties properly. Literally, today is not so busy. In my opinion I haven’t caused any damage during my absence. I’m wondering if you’ve ever been in the world. Have you ever been in Mexico, for instance?”

At this point, she could not control her rage anymore and yelled at me at the top of her lungs, “Enough, enough nonsense, Mr. Onoe! Who cares about Mexican culture? Wake up, man, here is Japan. You must obey Japanese rules. If I ask you to do something, you just do it because this is order. When I say you have to come back to the office on time from the break, you must obey. If you don’t obey what I order and still talk about Mexican nonsense, you will face a serious consequence, which I bet you won’t like it.”

As soon as she uttered her final threat, her face became red beyond rage and turning her back to me, she strode straight to her desk, shaking her flat ass.