Dec 28, 2006

Otsukaresamadessu: In Which I Pity the Managers

"It's an honorable, tired person."
That's roughly the meaning of "otsukaresamadessu," a common salutation/farewell here in Nihon. It's what you say to someone whom you work with when you see that they've been doing a good job, trying hard, and generally being productive. At work, we say this a lot.
Well, just to be funny, I sometimes say "Wow, look at that honorable tired person!" in English in a way over-enunciated fashion. This is funny only to me.
In particular, I say it to my two managers, both of whom put in an absolutely obscene amount of hours, in my alien gaijin opinion.
Now, Mr. Ecuador and Hip-Hop have explained to me that the work ethic in Japan is somewhat different. Quantity itself matters. Overtime and staying late on a regular basis is sort of expected, regardless of how much work you actually have to do. So, I regularly see the two managers sitting in their office late, doing all manner of emailing and paperwork, skulking blearily over computers and papers.
(I should point out here that they aren't managers in the sense that we use the term "manager" in the States, i.e., they don't have hiring of firing power. They basically manage the school and take care of clerical work, getting students to pay tuition, putting up with stuff from the head office, etc. So, they're not really my bosses so much as they are coworkers. If they could actually fire me I doubt I'd be nearly as sympathetic to them.)
I like both of them. One of them, the guy, belts out Nirvana's Lithium every single time we go out for Karaoke. Every time. After the Christmas party, while everyone else was singing seasonal stuff, he sang Lithium. I have the sneaking suspiscion that he wants the song to assume tactile, anthropomorphic form so he could hungrily make love to it and subsequently have it's baby. He loves it that much.
The other, the lady, is a bit more removed. I've been out drinking with her, but not really socializing. We get along alright, though.
Anyway, when I see these two, late at night, exhausted and covered in paperwork, I'm overcome by the urge to give them hugs and coffee. I don't- that would be unprofessional -but I want to. I do have the sneaking suspicion that they could probably get everything done in a reasonable amount of time and then go home with the rest of us. But, given the demands of Japanese business culture, I think that they would catch no amount of shit from the higher-ups if they did that, and must therefore "stretch" the work they have to do to last until eleven or so at night.
Poor managers. Poor paperwork swamped managers. You guys are awesome, but overworked. Otsukaresamadessu, guys.

1 comment:

Kori the tomorrow lady said...

Indeed. one of my biggest beefs with this company is the shit they put the managers through. a lot of my 'hard work' is because of my pity for the managers and knowing that they often have to wait late at night solely for head office to call them and yell at them for not making enough money.

bring them coffee and snacks. they need it.

otsukare! (says the girl on 'vacation')