A break time is coming! It is my best time of a day at the office. My colleagues always make groups to have lunch together, which makes me nauseated. They are not able to enjoy their break time by themselves, because they are constantly worried if they do not eat together, they might be missing precious information about the latest job news; they are constantly worried if they do not eat together, they might be outsiders. They constantly think about job conditions, poor Japanese! Of course, I am always alone and enjoy being free from my nauseating colleagues and appreciate having my own time. They occasionally ask me to join them to eat lunch together because they are very curious about me. They know that I have knocked about the world a wee bit and can speak English fluently as well as a touch of Spanish. They feel that I am completely different from ordinary Japanese. To tell the truth, I am hopelessly different from them and have nothing in common with them. I even do not know how to talk with them and what subjects I should talk about. I know that if I let myself have a lunch with them, they will only talk about a job, nothing more and nothing less, because they do not know how to enjoy their lives; they only know how to work five days a week like a robot. Their only link to each other at the office is the job, so they have no choice but to always talk about the job.
As soon as my lunch break comes, I dash out of the office to avoid being invited to have a lunch with them. I always have a single idea – go to Starbucks to read a book to improve myself. I have been reading the important book, The Growth of Soil. I am so immersed in Hamsun’s beautiful world and am aware that I am participating in the era of human degeneration. Naturally, I forgot about going back to the office. My usual break time is from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m., but when I realized it, it was already past 2:30 p.m.
The bitch is always telling me, “Mr. Onoe, here in Japan, you shouldn’t talk to clients as you talk with your friends. Remember, clients are not your friends but important customers. You must use polite words in order to give the impression that we have highly trained employees and good services. If you talk to your clients friendly, some of them will feel that you are rude and impolite. I suggest you… you’d better study how to apply polite Japanese language in any sorts of circumstances; otherwise, I can’t let you to pick up phone calls in the future, because I have huge responsibilities for controlling every telephone operator. They must use exactly the same words to clients and follow the manual, so that every single tiny detail works smoothly. Do I make myself clear, Mr. Onoe?”
“A fresh insult again!” I think. But whenever she starts her tirade, I just nod to show her that I completely understand what she means and start pretending to speak politely to clients over the phone, since I am used to enduring such humiliations.
Moreover, I definitely know how polite Japanese farts’ mind work. They think that clients are gods to the point of worship, so they simply endure any unreasonable demands from clients and try to calm them down by applying the shower of polite words to make them feel as if they were gods, so that they can make a business deal. Ladies and gentleman, let me introduce here the required skills of being a good businessman for Japanese: bowing down before clients as low as the upper part of his body will bend; slathering exceptionally polite words all the time; saying “Yes” to everything like a trained monkey; having an ability to make a fake smile in all sorts of situations; knowing how to kiss their boss’ ass anytime; and so on and so forth. I am pretty sure that if a good Japanese businessman has a chance to make a good business deal with his client, and his client asks him if he does not mind wiping his ass for him, the businessman won’t hesitate a wee bit and will make a beeline to grab toilet paper and wipe his client’s ass affectionately like a trained geisha. For me, this is so ridiculous, it is impossible for me to endure such a humiliation, but it seems mature and correct behavior for Japanese dolts.
Spring is coming. I am supposed to be happy, but on the contrary, I am more depressed day by day. Now it is April, ladies and gentleman; smells of flowers are everywhere, and people even let themselves indulge in the magic of spring and practice their passion of love. I am walking on my way to my office and feeling that I have never spent a disgusting spring like this before. People are chatting everlasting nonsense everywhere, and I am being bored to death. I spit at the street three times in order to show my disgust toward Japanese and nod as if I accomplished the important task. Oh my God, I really do not want to go to a job today to waste my time, but I must earn money for my mission. I am so distressed, help me God!
I have been working for Benefit One for seven months, which is my record so far. My company is a travel agency. I am assigned to work at a customer center as a Japanese-English telephone operator. My duty is to make reservations of hotels over a phone and organize travel itineraries. I usually handle twenty-five calls per day where I talk with idiots. Needless to say, I am sick of my job. I am frazzled answering stupid phones over and over and from talking to clients while using exceptionally polite words that only fatuous Japanese can invent. As always, the bitch is listening to my every conversation with clients to check if I am rude to them, because she simply cannot trust me. She is very short, fat, and ugly as sin. No more description is needed. She is human trash, such is my supervisor! Today I hope to Christ that the bitch will be quiet all day and will not disturb me, because I do not want to talk about nonsense and am sick of being insulted. Ms. Yamada is my supervisor’s name, by the way.
My initial plan was to take a job for a year to earn some money to go back to Vancouver, so I could make a fresh start on writing a book. I felt that I could sacrifice my precious time for the sake of my mission in life as a writer and could endure Japanese atmosphere for just a year. But alas, contrary to my strong determination to escape from Japan as quickly as possible, I have been trapped in Japan for over three years. It is beyond my patience, because the frivolity of Japanese life and Japanese people’s absurd behavior constantly offend me, and the Japanese society system and etiquette suffocate me. I simply cannot stay in Japan more than six months, which I have discovered. As soon as I earn some money to be able to take a vacation, I quit my job and visit Mexico to see my friends so that I can become a human being again. It has become my habit to quit a job every six months to take a breath outside of Japan. It has already happened four times in succession these past three years, and every time my vacation is over, my depression has gotten deeper and deeper. I am helplessly beaten by Japan and can only see total darkness in my future.
Five months has elapsed since I turned thirty-three years old. It is supposed to be the grandest year in my life, but I do not feel that way anymore. This is the age when my idol Henry Miller decided to quit his job, leave everything behind, and made a vow to dedicate all his time to writing for the rest of his life. Once I thought that when I reached thirty-three years old, I would leave everything behind and start dedicating all my time to writing like him, but it seems like a fairy tale to me now. I have no money and still do not know how to begin writing a book. It has become a gigantic task for me to write a book, like Mt. Fuji, where the top of mountain is extremely beautiful from the bottom, but it seems impossible to climb. Let me confess that I have not been able to start climbing yet: I am thoroughly paralyzed.
It has been three years since my golden age was over. Irrevocable fate has decided to send me back to the place I have avoided seeing ever since I succeeded in escaping: Japan. I am perpetually melancholy and incurably depressed. Nothing can cheer me up, nothing can make me happy and excited, and nothing can give me any joy and enthusiasm. Even literature had slipped away from me. I have tried to read my favorite authors to cure my emotional devastation and get my life back to where it is supposed to be, but nothing can work on me. I cannot see any hope in the future; I have become an utter failure. I am at the bottom now where I have never fallen down so deeply. I even do not care of what will happen in the future anymore and am totally indifferent to everything.
I always recall my wonderful adventures in the world, especially Canada, where I spent the best years in my life. The truth is that it has become impossible for me to adjust to Japanese society anymore.
I have met all my friends in Canada, Australia, and Mexico. And I miss them so much. I was supposed to finish writing my first book in Vancouver. However, I could not write a single line of my book. Only God knows what was wrong with me at that time. I had buried myself in books almost for ten hours every day to find out a clue how to begin and had tried to imitate my heroes’ writing styles, but everything came to nullity. I was constantly afraid of one thing: going back to Japan to take a job again. The idea of taking a job in Japan terrorized me like an incessant nightmare. Finally, the worst situation happened: financial crisis came upon me, and my visa expired. I had no choice, but with shame, I had to go back to Japan to ask my parents to let me stay at their house for a while.