Steve Tainton

Becoming a salaryman

Preparing for life as a Japanese salaryman

How does one prepare for life as a Japanese salaryman? That's a question that I am currently asking myself. A friend of mine suggested a manga series which follows the fictitious career of a salaryman as a good primer. And so I started reading the series 'Shima, Kousuke' (last name first, first name last). It confirmed for me many things I had already known. One thing that every good salaryman must do is commute. My commute will take me one hour and into the heart of Tokyo. I can expect to share my commute with a train car of 300 of my closest friends. Undoubtedly I will exit the train at the beginning of each work day feeling vaguely violated. I will feel doubly so upon my return home at the end of the day. Of course I can soothe the pain of the commute home with a quick alcohol lubrication at one of the many 'izakaya' around the train stations. Most of these will be almost as packed as the trains on a weekday evening. If I do decide for the post-work fuel injection then I will have to time my toilet trips carefully. Most of the commuter trains don't have facilities and are to crowded to move about in anyway. If in the afternoons I can look forward to theizakaya , in the mornings I can look forward to lunch. I will have the choice of noodles, noodles or more noodles. There are also noodles if the other options don't appeal to me. The life of asalaryman is not all crowded humanity and consumption. A good salaryman must also attend many meetings. The first meeting is on Monday morning. This is a good opportunity to schedule all of the other meetings that will happen throughout the week. Fortunately, nothing will really be accomplished in any of these meetings so the only stress I will really have is keeping my eyes open. Also there is a good deal of tea drinking. And trips to the toilet. In between all of this is 'work'. Due to the extremely private nature of Japanese companies I am not permitted to disclose the nature of my work, but rest assured it will involve paper, pens, phone calls and email. It's not all toil for thesalaryman however. There is the weekend. On Saturday I will be horrendously hungover due to the previous night's 'obligation' drinking. Most likely one of the higher-ups will ensure that I am well inebriated by continually praising my 'strong drinking' and topping of my glass when it hits the three-quarter mark. By the time I come back to life late Saturday I will probably be encouraged to go out drinking with some friends that I don't work with as this will be the only chance to get together. Sunday will be spent dragged about the department store with my wife who will ensure my allegiance to my employer by emptying my wallet that I may never break the vicious cycle of month to month living. By the time Monday rolls around I will be thoroughly exhausted which is the perfect way to begin the week because I will have the communal feeling of shared experience with my fellowsalarymen as we squash up against one another on the commute to work.

Oh well, at least I'm no longer teaching English.


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