Up to this point, I’ve been looking at the differences between my everyday American life and my everyday Japanese life (or, I should say, my everyday life as an American in Japan) from a somewhat neutral perspective. Today, that changes.
One thing I’ve noticed that I enjoy very much is that the customer service attitude is strong. Think Chick-fil-a, but…everywhere.
The guy checking my train ticket pretends he’s not annoyed that I can’t speak Japanese. The lady at the dry cleaner’s says it’s totally fine that I don’t know my cell phone number or my address. The server at the yakitori shop next to my workplace acts like I’m not dumb for trying to cook the egg in the stew that was simmering on like super low heat.
(You’re supposed crack the egg into a bowl and dip your meat into it, apparently. They eat raw egg over here like…a LOT.)
And they’re all SMILING. So much.
I come from a country where people lose their MINDS (in a good way) when a fast food worker says “my pleasure” instead of “you’re welcome.”
Here, customer service workers have their own language. I went to the bank today, and they greeted me for about three full minutes before I even told them what I was there for.
It was like, “Oh, honorable guest! Welcome! Thank you so much for choosing to give us your business. If you would be so kind, could you please possibly wait for just a moment while we prepare to give you the treatment you desire? Thank you so very much :)”
That may be an overstatement, but just barely. I swear.
This is particularly important for me as a foreigner because I’m inclined to think I’m inconveniencing people all the time (language barrier problems).
If I got regular American service where you could tell the workers didn’t want to be there, I would be inclined to take it personally (even though I know it’s not about me – they just hate their job). Here, even if they’re truly thinking “Oh, god, not this American again, she smells bad and we can’t understand anything she says,” I would never know.
This whole work facade thing extends to the business culture at my workplace as well. Without giving specifics, I’ve noticed that people very, very different inside of work versus outside of work. If you came to my school, you would think that no one drinks or smokes or curses or is sad ever.
It reminds me of how everyone says kindergartners think their teachers live at school.
At my job, that’s basically true. The Alisa that you see in the classroom is very much NOT the Alisa that you see out on Saturday night. Maybe I should use a fake name when I hit the bars.
I know we all wear masks at work, even in America, but this is different. At my restaurant job, we had a polished FOH face, but we could be ourselves as soon as we walked back into the kitchen. At the job I had before that, we would generally be professional, but people still had personalities.
Here? Nope. I feel like I’m surrounded by robots. Even when the manager steps out, and even in the break room…it’s just “How are you? Good. It’s really hot today.” // “Yeah, it is. At least it’s windy, though.” // “Mm, true.”
And that’s that.
Please note that a) I’ve only been here for a week, so maybe it’s a “set a good example for new girl” situation and b) this is very possibly a My Job thing and not a Japan thing. I will keep you posted.
One thing that I do NOT enjoy is the whole “take off your shoes” thing.
First of all, my feet stink. Like, even for feet. It’s a problem.
Second, and I found this out the hard way, if you take your shoes off at the front door, then it is quite easy to trip on them as you come stumbling into your apartment in the dark.
Third, and I found this out the EVEN HARDER WAY, if you take your shoes off at the front door, then they are very much NOT in your bedroom when you see a spider on your wall at 11PM. And when you take your eyes off said spider to go fetch your shoes from the front door (and you have to waste time opening the little shoe closet which you started using because you didn’t want to trip on your way in anymore), then the spider may not be in the same place that it was before. And then you have to spend the next hour in fear until you finally forget about it. But then you’re watching Stranger Things and the little guy runs across your screen and you almost throw your laptop off your lofted futon.
Anyway, I’m having a blast 🙂
I’ll try to update more often, but no promises!