For many years I worked various retails job and I thing I noticed was the avoidance of the word sorry. I don’t mean that it was never said, but it always seemed so carefully phrased to brush off any blame on the company’s part. At a few jobs, we were actively discouraged or outright told never to apologize to a customer, as it was seen as the company acknowledging a mistake. The only phrase that I clearly remember being solidly okay to say was something along the lines of, “I’m sorry you feel that way, but…”
That isn’t to say I never apologized to people, but I did get chewed out more than once for doing so. However, here in Japan, it is the total opposite. We are expected to say sorry a lot, actually.
What made me think of this is something a coworker said. She said that I spoke in a round about way, but hardly ever said the word “sorry”. She said I tended to say, “ok” instead. For example, if I was reprimanded for having done something incorrectly or not quickly enough, my answer would be “Ok, I’m on it,” or “Ok, I’ll do that next time,” when most people would expect me to say sorry.
I don’t think she meant it in a negative way, to be honest. I think she’s worried about my relationships with my coworkers, since these new coworkers I have may be the ones who decide what becomes of me in another three months.
So it got me thinking. I used to say sorry a ton to my friends and family, but it seems like in the business world, it has fallen out of my vocabulary. That said, I’m working on it.
Has anyone else noticed this trend in US corporate culture, especially in the retail segment? Maybe I just lucked out and worked for some black companies or something?
It’s hard to believe that Golden Week is over. It went by too fast. My next vacation isn’t until August. I also can’t believe that it’s something I can find complaint about.
Back in the US, I never really had any holidays. If I was lucky, I might have Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and Easter off. Since coming to Japan, I’ve been incredibly fortunate to not only have two days off a week, but to also have paid vacations.
When I speak to people from outside the US, they can’t believe that vacations aren’t the norm for us, especially if we don’t come from a white collar – middle class family. I’ve lived here for just under a year and I already find myself wondering if I could ever go back to living as I did back home. Something tells me I wouldn’t. it’s startling, but I wonder if I’ve left my home country for good.
I’ve noticed that I haven’t been posting too much about myself as of late. I’ve been talking mostly about things I’ve seen or places I’ve been. I haven’t said too much on how I feel.
I think that’s because I have very little to say. Work has been fine for the most part. I still go out with friends or by myself. I do housework.
I think I expected the experience of living in Japan to be a bit more novel. While a lot of people I know think that everything is so new or strange, I just see it as everyday life, just speaking a different language.
Last night, while chatting with some coworkers after work, I think I might understand now why I feel this way. A lot of my coworkers speak and understand minimal Japanese, so [they said that] they fill in the blanks with their imaginations. So, everything has a story or deeper meaning to it. I don’t do that. They see a sign and guess what mystical wonderful thing its for. I see a sign saying Grilled Meat, beer 50% off.
That isn’t to say I’m unhappy here or upset at being literate, because I’m not. I’m much more contdnt here that I ever was back home.
I just wish sometimes I felt that same sense of wonder as they do.
So, we’ve been handing out a ton of student satisfaction surveys at work recently. They are pretty straight forward, asking students how they feel about their classes, their teachers, and the general atmosphere of the school. It’s set up like the standardized tests back home, with students filling in a bubble on a sheet, with a pencil. There are also sections where students are to write messages to the staff and teacherd. They then put it in a sealed box to be reviewed later.
To be honest, it has me nervous.
I just realized that I’ve been here for a little more than a month. Time is flying by so quickly. I mean, yes, I always say that… but it feels faster than usual. This time last month, I was worrying over what to pack as luggage. This time last year, I was going crazy over finding a new job. I wonder what my past self would say to me if I said I would be living in Nagoya…
Tonight I leave for Japan.
I have lived in the same place, with my mom, for almost 30 years. Tonight, I will get into a car bound towards an airport one state away, to board a plane headed to Detroit. From there, I will get on another plane headed to Nagoya, Japan.
Until now, I’ve been so preoccupied with getting things ready, that the impact of just what I’m doing hasn’t hit me. I’m going to be away for at least a little over a year, if not more. I’m leaving my friends and family behind. I’m going to be half a planet away. I am responsible for myself now. I am an adult.
It’s a really odd feeling.
I know it isn’t forever, but something about moving still feels kind of final. I’m not sure why.
All I do know is this: this is a good thing and I should look at it in a positive light.
Today is my last day. I can’t believe it.