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October 26th, 2001
"Working Part Time" by Laf
"The Week Sped By..." by MMH
"Surprisingly Poor & Disappointing Quality" by AB - Unhappy, Inc.
"Verbal vs. Written Communication"
"Are You a Fool? - We Certainly Hope So!"
"Not a Cheery Atmosphere....."
"Prague & Tokyo" by SAJ & LHS
"Down to Six" by UFM
"Something is Wrong Here....."
"Thinking" by CPK
"Message From Ms. Gaimen"
"Closing Out" [Top of page]
As a later story relates, things have come
to a head at Jungle Warfare, Inc. The story "You're
Fired!" was the first story actually, but since the last letter
(LL-308) was mostly office junk, I don't want to just jump right into
this letter with more of that, so I'm putting some other letters
"Working Part Time" [Top of page]
Subject: A breath of fall
Date: Tue, 09 Oct 2001
From: Laf [US]
I recently returned to work part time. I just couldn't stay away from the Advertising Agency. I was offered the entire job back... running the research division, etc., but I turned it down. I am working three days a week in the sales department... working directly with the owner and the EVP. Believe it or not, there is less pressure there than in the old position - and a lot less stress.
I was supposed to go out shooting this weekend, but was unable to because of conflicting commitments. Besides shooting my sig sauer 9mm 239, I was hoping to work with a .22 pistol. I like the .22, but have to use a friend's gun. In these troubled times, I am actually glad I am licensed to carry a gun. Of course, I have not worked up the conviction that I could actually protect myself with it, but I can use it and at the range, I shoot at an expert level. That has to count for something.
"The Week Sped By..." [Top of page]
Subject: Dose of MMH 10/12/01
Date: Fri, 12 Oct 2001 -0700
From: MMH [US]
............ I forgot that I was to give a speech at the last toastmasters meeting. Well, I did pretty good considering it was spur of the moment. I fell back onto an old topic which I knew well. My progress in this new group is slow... if I took the time to go to a few more meetings at other clubs, I am sure things would speed up a bit, but for now, every other week is fine.
This week has gone by so fast, it is startling. Aabbb from Alaska came down to visit Bbccc. I was hoping to take a day off and tour the EMP with them. But work was piled very high and demanded my attention. They surprised me by coming down and having lunch with me one day. I loved that. It was my turn to buy, but Bbccc felt so bad about forgetting our last lunch that he demanded the check. (Of course we went out and had sushi.)
I thought I was going to have a good week and get the chance to eat sushi twice. I had a luncheon appointment with a web designer who spent last year in Italy working on a website. She was going to live there, but when she came back for a short visit with her folks, she found that she was unable to contact the company she worked for by phone. After trying other avenues to contact them without any success, she decided to stay on this side of the Atlantic, as she had no confirmation that there was still a job waiting for her in Italy. I was very surprised to hear from her, because I thought she was still over there. Anyway, we were scheduled to have sushi together and catch up on things, but she landed a project and rescheduled me for a few weeks from now.
Tomorrow is Ccddd's birthday. She has been looking forward to it for quite some time. I've planned dinner out at a fancy restaurant, and I also have a couple of gifts for her. Since she will be out of the office all day today in a meeting, I think it is safe to tell you all what I will be giving her. A turtleneck sweater and a food slicer that she has coveted for a long time. I need to sneak out later today and get some wrapping paper for it. Ccddd's mom sent her a package as well, which she has not opened yet and is saving to be the first gift she opens on her birthday.
The weather has turned wet. If it is dry at all this weekend, I must mow the grass one last time. The lawnmower with the engine still has to be repaired, so I will have to work the push mower. The weed-whacker we purchased earlier this summer has already died on us. I have a gas powered one, but it is very temperamental.
The dog had one bad day this week. I was trying to cut him back a bit on his medication, but he gets uncomfortable if he doesn't have five pills over three days (his maximum dose is two pills a day). He is holding up pretty well - the kids walking to and from school love him. I let the kids walk him around and pet him. He enjoys all of it.
This year we have the same crossing guard in the afternoons as last year. A firm handed gal named Ddeee. In the mornings we have a new person - a retired man who used to live in Oregon, but moved here to be closer to hospitals with better medical services. His wife has dementia. Sometimes she comes with him and sits in the car and sometimes she is tired and stays at home. I enjoy my morning conversations with him. I think I am one of the few people in the day he has a chance to talk to who is younger than himself.
MMH [Top of page]
[Top of page]
(October 26th, 2001)
Mr. Zangyo didn't use those exact words - rather some PR mumbo jumbo like "We have decided to ask you not to renew your contract after the end of November", but I think he would have been happy to push me out of the sixth floor window right then and there. Remember that I actually yelled at him in front of the entire company (see "The N-Hexane Battle" in "Letter-Letter 301", July 15th, 2001)..... I figured it was coming to this when he asked me yesterday if I would set aside 1:30 the following day, as he had something he needed to talk to me about. Considering the year-long hostilities, it couldn't have been anything good..... Mr. Zangyo is one of the very few people in that company who actually is doing valuable work... but... he is also spineless and unable to walk any other path than that of least resistance. Give the guy more power as the Prez is stepping away from the business with declining health, enter Mr. Uragi and Mr. Aruchu, and the game's up. What they want, they will have. I'll say this for the Prez - in spite of his many faults, he has enough backbone to not always just take the easiest path. If he hadn't wanted me to be in the company, I would probably have been driven out in January or February.
At about 1:20 p.m. today, Mr. Zangyo walked by my desk and asked me to go with him to the conference room. We walked in and it was still reeking of spray glue toxins, so he shut the window(!)... to keep them from escaping I guess. He indicated a seat at the middle of the conference table on the window side and he took a seat across from me. I found some irony, logic, or perfect balance to the universe (something, not sure how to pin it down...) in looking over at the cardboard box that they put newspaper clippings in to spray glue on the back of so they can glue the article to a sheet of A4 paper, put an (often) inaccurate translation on it (one of the reasons I'm being fired - I embarrassed people with the truth about their dismal English skills), and overcharge the fast dwindling clients for the dubious value of the resulting product. I looked over at him, he looked at me... I waited, and he gave me the "We have decided to ask you not to renew your contract" bit. He seemed to expect me to verbally respond to that, but speaking was the last thing I felt like doing. I knew very well what it all meant, and in fact had been intellectually (not emotionally) prepared to be fired ever since I decided to fight the office war the best I could with the written word nearly a year ago. I looked at him, he looked back, and when I just kept looking at him, he seemed to go into automatic mode as though he had done the same thing a few times before - and said (the whole conversation was in Japanese by the way, this is a translated version of the actual words spoken):
"As for the reason why - the young AE people have been complaining about you. That you are difficult to approach, that you take too long to proof things, and that, often after they give you something, you send them e-mail."
At the time he said it - dripping with hatred, accusation, and non-comprehension of the true nature of the "AE" complaints (his English is even worse than theirs, and theirs is awful), I couldn't summon the....... energy... to simultaneously ignore my feelings at the moment and launch into an explanation for the guy that he is not capable of understanding, but even so, the bit about my sending e-mail registered in the "What-what-what??" category with red lights, and as I write down what he said, it strikes me as quite funny. I've been accused of that before - by Ms. Piman, to be exact. "You shouldn't send e-mail. You should just talk to me". I talked to everyone... until I realized that some of them were passing off shoddy work that they sent out to clients directly as having been checked by me, when I hadn't even seen it! Once I realized what a pack of liars most of the people in the office were, I realized there had to be written proof of what was going on. As for the amount of time spent on things, they would spend a couple of weeks putting together horrible reports in mutant English, and they expected me to magically correct them in an hour or two. When I began asking them to explain sections of the report that just didn't make any sense, I was making it apparent how low their English skills were. If top management had been fluent themselves, it wouldn't have been a problem, but the staff had/has(!!) this fiction going that they have great English skills, and so the bearer of bad news (me) must be made the problem in order for them to perpetuate the fiction of their English proficiency. On top of all that, I had to spend a lot of time assisting the Prez with his e-mail and teaching his secretary how to use the computer ("How can I open Word?", "How do you save a file?", "Where is the address book?", "How can I send a file to someone?" etc. etc. etc.), with each question she asked me having to be answered about twenty times before she finally learned.......
"Don't send e-mail". The company is supposedly in the business of selling advice - in both verbal and written form, but the only person in the company who seems to appreciate the written form of language, is the Prez. Everyone else finds the verbal form so much easier to lie in. Verbal words are great for liars - there is no evidence. (Maybe I should have secretly taped conversations? No, I'm not a spy in a movie, and that must be illegal anyway.) I say the Prez has a respect for the written word, but he is also very careful to never write down his lies.....
Back to Mr. Zangyo. Since hearing him echo Ms. Piman's words (Ms. Piman and her climbing the corporate ladder on her back... could this have hinged on her?), I've thought back to the way Mr. Zangyo works on his computer, which basically sounds like this:
"ka-cha, ka-cha, ka-cha - THWACK!! ka-cha, ka-cha, ka-cha, ka-cha, ka-cha, ka-cha, ka-cha - THWACK!! ka-cha, ka-cha, ka-cha, ka-cha - THWACK!! ka-cha, ka-cha - THWACK!! ka-cha, ka-cha - THWACK!! ka-cha, ka-cha, ka-cha, ka-cha, ka-cha, ka-cha - THWACK!! THWACK!!"
The "ka-cha" being the sound of each individual key as he slowly pecks at the keyboard with his two index fingers, and the "THWACK!!" being his forceful banging on the poor abused "Enter" key (final selection of "kanji" in Japanese), and/or the space bar (for English). Now that he has his own office in the new building, I can't usually hear him slowly, painfully typing away, but at the old office, when I was sitting just around the corner from him (before being moved to the corner window seat), I got used to the peculiar sound of his typing.
All that "ka-cha" up above? Just to produce: "The meeting will be in March." No wonder the guy hates e-mail. Not only can he not read it very well, writing is such a pain for him. If he would just learn to type, maybe his name wouldn't be Mr. Zangyo ("zangyo" means "overtime" by the way)......
Getting fired... at times like that... you experience so many feelings in such a compressed amount of time. In trying to put the experience to words, what took a second or two in real time, takes something like thirty minutes to write. I feel I'm in danger of losing the moment through trying too hard to explain it..... In any event, something about the animosity of Mr. Zangyo, Mr. Uragi, Mr. Aruchu, Ms. Piman and Ms. Eigodekinu got to me and I couldn't speak... I swiveled my chair around and looked out the window... Looking out the window, I thought: "Get it together... get it together.... ..... I can't... I can't speak right now....." Mr. Zangyo waited... so I pulled the pad I brought with me off the table and wrote "I can't speak right now. I understand", tore the paper off the pad and slid the paper across the table at him. He read it, and said "Okay, take your time. We can talk again next week."
After a bit, I recovered the ability to speak and we had one short debate... about the topic of the AE's complaining. I pointed out that, at that very moment, the company was scrambling to placate an unhappy client over mutant English sent out directly from Ms. Eigodekinu ("eigo" = English, "deki[ru]" = able to do, and "nu" = unable to [in this case - speak/write]) - which is exactly the content and purpose of some of my e-mails! I had seen how bad her English was, and in response to her attacking me, had spelled out the situation clearly (but without exaggerating) in an e-mail to her (with a BCC copy sent to the Prez). Mr. Zangyo being more interested in being a racist than in the health of the company, he defended Ms. Eigodekinu's mutant English by saying that the original Japanese was at fault! Yikes! What can you say to someone who throws profound ignorance at you by way of argument? Not only you can't argue with a sick mind, you can't argue with a fathomlessly ignorant one either.....
What about the written contact I've maintained with the Prez? He's relinquishing control and Mr. Zangyo neither wants to nor is capable of properly reading an English report..... Well then, it really is a hopeless situation then! Unless I start writing long and detailed reports in Japanese, but then I would have the problem they have with English - no matter how hard I try, while the result of my Japanese writing is usually understood (I have sent a few reports in Japanese), it is, basically, mutant Japanese. I hate to admit that, and thus must feel some sympathy for their situation, but if I were writing reports in Japanese in the US, and my reports were being rewritten by a native Japanese person before being sent to Japan, I think I'd accord that person some respect for their native language.
Anyway, here's part of a letter that was sent to the Prez by the unhappy client (an executive of a German financial institution). The Prez forwarded the letter on to Mr. Zangyo, Mr. Uragi, and Mr. GoodGaijin (formerly referred to as Mr. Howlong - now renamed. If we meet in person someday and you want to know, ask me and I'll give you a thirty minute explanation). The bad English in question had been written by Ms. Eigodekinu, but the complaint wasn't initially forwarded to her. She is always working with Mr. GoodGaijin, so maybe he supposedly checked it? (Maybe he did, as his written English is bad enough that he actually failed the written part of his interview as "graded" by both Mr. Lookingfor and myself.) After the garbage sent to the German company became an issue, Mr. Uragi sent it to me to check without explaining anything (I had heard everything anyway). The letter from the German executive fell into my computer through a slip-up(?) of Mr. Zangyo's..... The letter is composed of three letters with reference to a missing fourth letter (I wish I had that one too!). Please note that the reference to "native proof" has got nothing to do with me - or more precisely, if I had checked it, the problem would not have arisen, but Ms. Eigodekinu has been sending her mutant English out directly without having it checked (or it was checked by the incompetent Mr. GoodGaijin).
The three-part letter (the third part was
written by a Japanese employee of the German company, who Mr.
GoodGaijin and Ms. Eigodekinu spent a large part of Thursday
trashing... "How would she know if the English was good or not"
etc. Here's the letter: [Top of page]
"Surprisingly Poor & Disappointing Quality" [Top of page]
Thursday, October 25, 2001 8:46 AM
By separate mail I send you another comment, this time by Dr. Ccddd Ddeee. Please have a look into this matter which is important for me. I wonder whether you are aware of the surprisingly poor and disappointing quality of what your colleagues are trying to sell to us.
Please let me have your comment.
Thank you and best regards
10/24/2001 08:16 PM
I hope you will not ask me to correct such primitive level writing. You as a first checker of PR material is the best person to correct such primitive mistakes, I believe. I will help you as you want but I myself have many outstanding issues and ad hoc requests in urgent by many people.
Can you agree with my suggestion?
2001/10/24 04:59 PM
I have to fully agree with you about the poor quality of English. I would like to follow your suggestion. However, this is true that the draft what you have is after translation and native proof by Prez Consulting as professional advisor.
I gave the web-site address of Prez Consulting and asked them to follow the way of writing in English.
When we would give this paper back to Prez Consulting, that means they would charge additional costs on invoice which is not cheap as you know. Moreover, I expect the quality will not improve so much. In addition, the cost for correction does not cover in the PR budget as it is the draft for English version.
We have to understand Prez Consulting's performance. I would like to recommend you to check only the below draft (for securities side). The above draft should be checked by banking side. I am sorry for that, but that is the way it is. However, if the management would like Prez Consulting to correct the drafts again, I intend to tell it to them.
With kind regards,
After listening to the clowns yak at each
other all day about the problem, and having been told by Mr. Zangyo
that he wanted to talk to me the next day - that evening I began
writing (and finished early the next morning) the following letter
that I sent to Prez and Mr. Zangyo:
October 25th, 2001 [Top of page]
Verbal vs. Written Communication
cc: Mr. Zangyo
I was not directly filled in by anyone regarding the customer complaint about poor English quality in a written document, but from Mr. Uragi's comments when he spoke with me after sending me a couple of MS-Word files to go over, I gather that a client was strongly displeased with the quality of the English they received. Frankly speaking, I'm not at all surprised to hear this. I've experienced a real uphill battle almost from day one at Prez Consulting when trying to put together something in real English. The most serious offenders are those who have spent some time overseas, and having thus become somewhat (conversationally) fluent in the language, they take a fool's leap of faith and believe themselves to have mastered the language in all respects.
As for this most recent trouble. While no one has told me as much, from the lengthy discussions that were carried out nearly the entire day between Mr. GoodGaijin and Ms. Eigodekinu, with Mr. Uragi joining in from time to time, I gather it has something to do with something Ms. Eigodekinu wrote? If so, I'm not surprised to see this happen either. Ms. Eigodekinu has been rather hostile to any attempts by me to clarify her poorly written English, so it's not surprising that she would believe her faulty English to be fine and just blithely send it out to clients. This situation has been exacerbated by Mr. GoodGaijin's support of her. After hearing them talk about it over and over, I witnessed Mr. GoodGaijin carrying on with a lengthy monologue in Mr. Zangyo's office, defending the defective English, "I Don't think it's so bad", attacking the client, "Their English isn't good enough to know if it's good or bad" (neither is Mr. GoodGaijin's by the way!), and attacking me, "I don't agree with Lyle on this".
........ Mr. Prez - you told me I should think of the other employees as my clients... maybe you should tell Mr. GoodGaijin to think of our clients as our clients! We have the same problem we've had ever since I started working at Prez Consulting in late February of 2000. Most of the employees produce defective English, and are very defensive and hostile to having it corrected (none more so than Ms. Piman - who showers those in power with her charming smiles and happy sounding laughter - while she spits poison at me whenever I try to rewrite her defective English as quality English). It's been basically the same situation over the past 20 months... but this time, it's not me warning you that it's only a matter of time before the clients complain about the low quality of English we produce - it's one of the clients themselves actually complaining about it!
So what are we doing? Well in Mr. GoodGaijin's and Ms. Eigodekinu's case, they're attacking the client (not directly of course). One of the amusing things that Mr. GoodGaijin said to Mr. Zangyo yesterday is that "If you read the Japanese, this isn't strange" (or something to that effect). You could say the same thing about the horrible English generated by translation software! Yes, the meaning is there - but the English stinks! To be very blunt, Mr. GoodGaijin's English is also not very good. You may remember that both I and Mr. Howlong strongly recommended that you not hire him due to the very low quality of his writing ability. Frankly speaking, not all of Mr. GoodGaijin's English even looks like it's been written by a native English speaker, so he is in no position to be authoritatively telling you about the quality of written English. [The client's imperfect English ability notwithstanding, their criticism was accurate - the English really was "of surprisingly poor and disappointing quality".]
In a meeting, presentation skills could be said to count for 70% of the overall impact, and content only 30%. I suspect it is for this reason that you hired Mr. GoodGaijin in the first place. He's an excellent showman, and he loves to talk - get him in a meeting, set his mouth to running, and he'll talk the ears right off of the clients. That's great, but when they're back in their offices and away from Mr. GoodGaijin's verbal razzle-dazzle, that 70% entertainment - 30% content rule doesn't hold. Mr. GoodGaijin isn't sitting in their office all the time, relentlessly razzle-dazzling them. What they do have to ponder, is the written word. And in the case of words that are solidly in form on a printed page (or computer screen), there has got to be more content, and less hype.
Put simply, what you have is this. Mr. GoodGaijin - who can speak but can't write, and myself - who can write, but can't speak. Too bad we're both not some kind of supermen... but that's how the world is. You hire specialists to handle special tasks. The problem with top management at Prez Consulting is that since both computers and English are not well understood, decisions are too often made for political reasons rather than sound business ones.
Sorry to say it myself, but at present, I'm the only one in the company who can write real English. The company could be making much better use of my skills, but people's foolish pride keeps getting in the way..... (Incidentally, one reason I sometimes wear headphones is to block out the irritating sound of Mr. GoodGaijin endlessly yakking away... so I can concentrate on writing (does that guy talk in his sleep too?).
And while all this was going on, I received an e-mail from Mr. Lookingfor who is now in China - among news of his job search over there, he said:
"Thanks for your e-mail. Hang in there in the combat zone, but do everything possible to get out of there before you go crazy."
While he was still there, he made life in
the office much easier for me by being the only person who would
speak up for me, and he has been (strongly) urging me to get out of
that psychotic office for more than half a year now.
[Top of page]
"Are You a Fool? - We Certainly Hope So!" [Top of page]
I keep getting similar offers from
scam-artists, so I thought I'd go over this again in here. The
scam letters always purport to be from someone in a third world
country who has a pile of money (wealthy widow, etc.) that they need
to sneak out of the country - so please help by supplying the con
artists with your phone, fax and bank account numbers. It's
quite obviously a scam, but interests me with the obvious fact that
if you give criminals your name, bank account number, and phone and
fax numbers, they can do something with them. That's pretty
scary. I'm certainly not about to give that information out,
but it's not such a huge amount of information to have. I think
banks had better start doing something to ensure that people's
accounts are safe. Maybe they are... but considering the
numbers of times I've received letters like the following two
(abbreviated), it suggests that there might in fact be something to
worry about here.
"It is with
respect and confidence that
I decided to contact you for a confidential transaction, which
requires your assistance for our mutual beneficial relationship.
I am an Engineer, the chairman of contract awarding committee at
Aabbb National Oil Co. republic of Dokoka. Two years ago, our
refinery caught fire and burned for almost two weeks, so much of the
heavy equipment was damaged. There was assistance from the
world bank IMF and other financial institutions for the replacement
of this damaged equipment. During this period, a lot of
contracts were awarded to so many international contractors all over
the world. Now all the contracts have been fully executed and I
was able to preserve the sum of twenty million US dollars, which I
want to transfer out of the country immediately. Now, what I
want you to do for me is indicate your interest and I will furnish
you with further information. Finally, if you are willing to
assist me, I will give you 10% of the total sum as compensation for
your assistance. Please you should send me your nearest phone
and fax numbers for easy communication."
"I am Miss Maureen Aabbb, the
daughter of the late Mr. Joseph Aabbb, who was on board the Egyptian
airplane that crashed on 31st October 1999 on its way from New York
to Cairo. My mother, from the hospital, told me that my late
father deposited a trunk box containing the sum of US$25.8 million
dollars in a security company here in Abidjan and that we need a good
foreign partner who will assist us in transferring this money
They always start out something like the
above two letters... and then end with requests for your personal
information, as the following quotes indicate:
"Please be rest assured that this transaction is 100% risk free. If this proposal is accepted, please contact us through the e-mail-address above, indicating your interest and sending to us the name of your bank, account number, and your fax/tel number."
"I would like you to call me or my son at the following number to enable me give you more information regarding how to go about the retrieval of this trunk box."
"I received your response and have trust in your capability to handle the transaction to the benefit of both parties, you should keep the transaction confidential. Send me details of your bank account, including the telephone, fax and telex numbers of the bank. I will use this information to prepare the payment request order note and submit to the bank to process the wire transfer in your favor."
"Send me the bank particulars and
let us take it up from there. Keep everything confidential and
we will achieve success together. Let me also have your private
telephone and fax numbers which I will also have to submit to the
bank. ............. This is all top secret."
"Please give us your full name,
address, telephone and fax numbers, which are needed to list you as
Free money dropping out of the sky sound too
good to be true? That's because it is! The more distant
we are from our banks, and the more we rely on automation to handle
the cash, the more we need to exercise extreme caution in revealing
potential keys that might unlock the accounts somehow. Have you
been receiving these types of letters as well?
[Top of page]
"Not a Cheery Atmosphere....." [Top of page]
(October 29th, 2001 Nishi-Shinjuku 21:40)
No one said anything to me today at work about being given the ax, but the atmosphere was weird. Very uncomfortable... which was to be expected, but what I hadn't expected, is that I seemed to sense a nervousness in some people, as though they were wondering if they'd be next. Certainly the company is sinking into ever more dangerous waters financially... yet another long-term client has declined to renew their ongoing contract and instead will only be doing limited project work through JW Inc. (I almost said "us", but couldn't bring myself to, even if I am still there.)
I had a strange problem with the computer at
work. It began to recognize fewer and fewer fonts, which I
found strange, but didn't worry too much about, until it refused to
recognize Times New Roman and Arial, which are the two most used
fonts at the office, so I reformatted the hard drive and reinstalled
the OS, but mucked up the installation of the LAN card. Hoping
to straighten it out before going home, I was still there as the
minute hand crept past the 12 on the clock, and within ten minutes,
there was a palpable feeling in the air of "Why - are - you -
still - here??". Unfriendly... very unfriendly. Mr.
Aruchu had been grumbling to Ms. Keiri earlier about some of the
employees having to go in for a physical since they are using the
spray-glue with the toxins in it. I almost felt a little
guilty, but then I thought "Hey, wait a minute! I got
fired over that! I Don't have to feel bad at all!"
Nevertheless, Mr. Aruchu is so angry about the glue and the Prez's
computer, I think he's irritated that I was given a month's notice,
and not just kicked straight out the door. Given the rest of
the office's fear of that clown, I'm thinking I had better carefully
watch my back for the remaining time I'm there.
"Prague & Tokyo" [Top of page]
Subject: Re: No Problem
Date: Thu, 18 Oct 2001 +0200
From: SAJ [US / Holland]
Our trip to Prague was great. I loved the city, but at times it was like seeing it in a blur since Aabbb's parents tend to go a little fast. We may be younger, but we like to move a little slower then they do. I am afraid we missed a lot, so I hope to go back alone one of these days.
When I was in high school, there were two friends of mine who I was very very close to. Bbccc and Ccddd. We were like the Three Musketeers. I received an email the other day from Ccddd informing me that Bbccc had liver cancer and only a few months to live. Ccddd said that he didn't think Bbccc would last till his birthday on December 1st. Aabbb and I won't be there until December 8th, so I am saddened that the chances of seeing Bbccc one more time don't look very promising. Enough said about that.
Have you ever been to Kyoto? I have heard quite a bit about the city lately on that 'Big In Japan' show I watch. The host of the show said if you wanted to feel the "Old Japan" this was the place to go. It ranked number two on places to go/things to see. Tokyo was number one and the fish market was number one on things to see in Tokyo. Don't ask me about any other rankings because I have forgotten. :(
Enjoy your new camera. I am still trying to learn how to use the one we bought over a year ago.
Kyoto is historically very important, and has a lot of culturally important temples, shrines, etc., but it's also all mixed in with new stuff that doesn't go very well with the old stuff, so the overall effect can be disappointing if you're not prepared to filter out that clash and focus on what you want to see. With television of course, the producers of the show can do that for you with skillful editing. What happens though, is a lot of people see documentaries, read tourist books, and then when they step off the shinkansen (bullet train) at Kyoto Station, they look around at a mostly concrete and asphalt city and say "This is Kyoto??". Once they find the right places, they discover the traditions of the city, but the first look as you get off the train can be a shocker.
Another city that I have enjoyed visiting very much, and isn't too far from Kyoto, is Takayama - which, although not nearly as culturally important as Kyoto, maintains more of a traditional feel to it overall. The whole town hasn't changed very much, and doesn't have jarringly modern buildings competing with the traditional structures, so the total effect can be more... time-warp-ish. I wouldn't make a point of saying that on a television show though - as the area is not geared towards handling large numbers of foreign tourists, and the fact that it's not nearly as historically significant as Kyoto, would lead to someone complaining that I'm promoting a little back-woods town in the mountains..... Actually, there are a number of fascinating things to see in this country, but you need time and money (lots of it) to really experience them.
That said, on Friday, after I was fired, I walked over to Shinjuku Gyoen Park (or "gardens" I think the brochure says - the dictionary says "Imperial gardens" under "gyoen"), paid my Y200 to get inside, and then spent almost two hours there, mostly on a park bench in the sun... happy for the friendly company of a dragonfly that keep flying off and then coming back and landing on one of my legs for awhile before flying off again. It might sound strange that I would welcome the friendly company of a dragonfly so much, but after the hostile atmosphere of that office, I needed some connection with life, away from all that poison. After that I walked over to where they have a western style section of the park with roses, and the color and scent were a pleasure to experience. I don't generally specifically look at only flowers, preferring instead a balance of other plants with flowers mixed in, but focusing on just the flowers and their scent was soothing for me on Friday.
I don't want to get into this right now, but
I'll just mention that I fully well understand why most people are
afraid to step away from the pack here. The key to keeping
people confined within the restrictions of groupism, is the threat of
exclusion - total exclusion, or ostracization, which people are
brutally good at doing in this country. Once a group gets
focused on excluding someone, the poison takes on a life of its
The mechanics of it are simple - anyone in the group who shows the
tiniest bit of friendliness to the one who is being ostracized is
immediately attacked, which, 99% of the time brings them in line with
the group in a hurry. In that office, Mr. Aruchu has been
ruthless in his attacks on anyone associating with me - not in front
of me, but I've seen him attacking other employees (who are now gone
from the company) behind their backs, and Ms. Warukunai is a nice
enough person that she still (as long is no one is looking) speaks to
me, and she let me know about Mr. Aruchu tossing poison arrows her
way after I set up her computer (with the understanding and agreement
of Mr. Hetakuso, who had given up on it). Interestingly
(fascinatingly would be a better word), Mr. Zangyo, who is supposedly
the number two guy in the company, seemed to show actual fear when I
suggested he just give me the Y3,000 for increasing the memory in his
computer from 256MB to 512MB so that we could just toss it in his
computer without even mentioning it to the obstructionist Mr.
Aruchu. "If Mr. Aruchu is against it,they we can't - haha"
he said as he (nervously it seemed) walked back behind the safety of
his desk. There's something strange here... either Mr. Aruchu
is just particularly good at manipulating people (possible), or maybe
he has fearsome connections (equally, if not even more possible).
Oops... I've drifted off topic again..... I meant to say
Shinjuku Gyoen is a nice park right here in the middle of concrete
Tokyo that I deeply appreciated on Friday........
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"Down to Six" [Top of page]
Subject: Re: LL-308
Date: Thu, 25 Oct 2001
From: UFM [UK]
Just got LL-308. Glad to see you've still got your job! [Sent before I lost it! - LHS] You didn't mention the toxic glue thing - I assume they're still stalling. Waiting and hoping that the problem goes away seems to be the usual way for bureaucrats to deal with things.
My job's looking a bit insecure - the company is having some problems, and a couple of people got laid off. The company is now down to only six employees! Fortunately I've been saving up for something like this, and I can survive without work for a while. I think if I get canned I'll spend a couple of months learning a new computer language (C++). I think in the long run that will help my career, even at the cost of a gap on my CV. In the computer programming game, the problem is always managing to keep your skills up to date. The problem is that you get trapped in a small specialist area, and things change so fast that any area can quickly become obsolete.
What with business being slow, I've been surfing the web a lot. I'm getting slightly addicted to a website called Kuro5hin, which is a discussion site. Its main audience is computer people, especially Linux people, but there's a lot of discussion of current affairs and stuff as well.
You mentioned in LL-308 that you were thinking about switching to Linux. I installed Red Hat on my machine at home and played around with it. The user interface is nice, but it's a lot more fiddly to install software and drivers than Windows. The way that I got it was to buy a Red Hat Linux book ("Red Hat Linux 7.1 Bible" by Christopher Negus) which comes with the installation CDs. Getting it that way is cheaper than buying the product directly, though you don't get any technical support of course. You can also download it for free, but as it's several CDs worth, it would take a while!
"Something is Wrong Here....." [Top of page]
October 31st, 2001
What follows is a long letter, but much has happened in 20 months, and now that I've been fired by Mr. Zangyo, many things must be said. As for the way in which I was fired, Mr. Zangyo used the term that my "contract is not being renewed" - which is rather disingenuous of him, as there is no written contract, and if there were, it would not be expiring at the end of November... and after all this time, he didn't even know that the company is not sponsoring me!
First off, I should say thank you for the opportunity to gain the experience of working in a consulting company - an experience that has been quite educational for me. Also I have been better able to pay the bills and support my family since I began working at Prez Consulting. (Of course that looks about to change come the end of November....)
There are many things I could say in detail about what has happened over the past 20 months... both acknowledging my failings, and in my defense. Overall I would say that I have made many mistakes in handling tricky situations with people, but on the other hand, my writing e-mails to them was an honest attempt to clarify situations and establish two-way communication. As for the content - I stood by what I wrote at the time as being the truth, and in reading old letters, I still stand by what I wrote. Many times at Prez Consulting, people have lied about this or that situation, and so of course they have refused to write their lies down. (Spoken lies can always be disclaimed - written lies can be proven to be false and with malicious intent.) I have always tried to be honest with what I've said however, and so am not ashamed to make a permanent record of it by putting it into written form.
The recurring theme in the most acrimonious battles I've fought with AE's at the company, has always been with those who have lived overseas, and then come into Prez Consulting proud of their fluent spoken English skills. This began with Mr. Kusatteiru, continued with Mr. Nantoka, Ms. Dokuhebi, Ms. Piman, and Ms. Eigodekinu. With all of them, they were/are presenting themselves as having mastered the English language, but while their speaking ability is fairly good, their writing ability is often quite poor. They do not, however, like to admit this, and have all attacked me when I have had to ask them questions about the intended meaning of their poorly written material.
Mr. Zangyo is positioned such that he should be supportive of my position of trying to ensure the quality of the company's written English material. Unfortunately, Mr. Zangyo's English skills are quite low, and thus he is unable to comprehend how poor - to take the most recent example - Ms. Eigodekinu's written English in fact is. This in spite of the fact that just last week a client was moved to unhappily complain about poorly written English material from her. When I brought this up with Mr. Zangyo on Friday, he claimed that there was something wrong with the original Japanese!! As the issue was not one of content, but rather very poorly written English, whether the original Japanese was good or bad is irrelevant - as Mr. Zangyo should well know, but instead he has chosen to buy Mr. GoodGaijin's sales pitch in defense of his good friend Ms. Eigodekinu. The word "nasakenai" comes to mind here.....
The current situation begs many questions - where have I gone wrong exactly? Ms. Eigodekinu yaks away all the time with Mr. GoodGaijin, and has created an image of herself as being fluent in English, which she basically is - but not with English in its written form. (Even with her spoken English, she usually sounds like a foolish high school student.) My position of not only having to check people's written English, but also being responsible for errors, gives me the right to ask questions, yet when I do, I have been attacked. Most notably with four people. First Mr. Kusatteiru, and then Ms. Dokuhebi, Ms. Piman, and Ms. Eigodekinu.
Mr. Aruchu....... It is quite clear that the profoundly dishonest Mr. Aruchu is the main reason I'm being fired. As I have exposed several of his lies - from a plethora of lies about the toxic spray the company is using to his lies to you to prevent you from getting a decent computer - he has decided that I have to go, and Mr. Zangyo doesn't have the fortitude to find out and/or stand up for what is right, and so he is doing Mr. Aruchu's bidding. There is something disturbing about Mr. Aruchu - he seems to be a friendly man - and yet he engages is vicious back-stabbing, string pulling, and perpetual lying. No doubt he is valuable to the company(?), but you should be very careful about trusting this man - there doesn't seem to be an honest bone in his body. He's a string puller... he pulls Mr. Uragi's strings, he pulls Mr. Zangyo's strings... why does he have so much power???
The toxic spray glue... really, honestly, truthfully should not be used in enclosed spaces. This is just common sense! But by openly opposing this lunacy, I have gotten myself fired. (Many others don't like it either, but are afraid to say anything.) The company knows very well that it's illegal to fire me for requesting that you obey the law and stop poisoning the employees (whether they are happily having their health destroyed or not), and so the fiction "your contract is not being renewed" has come up. May I say something very rude here? If the company must lie to the employees, can't the lies be a little more clever? This was a major problem with the toxic spray - Mr. Aruchu has said one outrageous lie after another... lies just begging to be brought into the light of truth. This constant lying is counterproductive! With more truth, the company could move more solidly and cohesively in a good direction.
After saying all that, you probably aren't interested in my proposal that I continue to work at the company on a part time basis - something like Ms. Honyaku - who only works on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, but if something like that could be worked out, I would appreciate it. Contrary to the dishonest propaganda campaign you are subjected to from Mr. Aruchu, I can work well with most of the people in the office. I have no problem with the honest people - the problems arise with the dishonest ones, which is why they are nervous about having their dishonesty exposed in written text.
LS [Top of page]
"Thinking" [Top of page]
Subject: Re: LL-307
Date: Sat, 27 Oct 2001 -0500
From: CPK [US]
I found LL-307 interesting - I guess I'll put my two cents in now (for what it's worth). When I learned of what had happened, my first instinct was to stop and reflect - the way I would for any calamity. In any belief system, I think self examination of the bad side that exists in all of us is a good idea. The statements by our president, "Make no mistake, we will find who's responsible and bring them to justice" gave me an uneasy feeling about the country being overly confident in itself. Where there is too much pride and vanity, humbling will eventually come.....
I am opposed to war. It would seem to me that with all of our technology, wouldn't we have the wherewithal to just have a hit-man eliminate those few that we are certain are involved? Guess I've seen too many James Bond movies. I really hate to see the prejudice against those that look as though they might be Muslims here in our country. I also think that some people are going overboard with flag displays at the moment. My husband, who was in the military, really "gets on the soap box" about that. There is very distinct protocol regarding our flag and it's use, and so some of the marketing of flag-ware is annoying.
Because I'm no good at analyzing politics or the big picture, I tend to turn my thoughts to my own existence. How do I look at the possibilities that suffering could fall upon me? Whether it's from economic crash or war, or simply loss of health (because we are all vulnerable, no mater how much we try to safeguard ourselves), I try to build on those things which have more lasting value - like how I can be of help to others. I pray that when/if suffering comes my way, that I can be a kind of light to others by not complaining and still having a spirit of gratitude for what I have enjoyed thus far, for what I still have left, and especially for what lies ahead.
"Message From Ms. Gaimen"
[Top of page]
(November 2nd, 2001 15:16 Yotsuya)
I took a two-hour lunch again yesterday and spent it in nearby Shinjuku Gyoen - wandering around the grounds, trying not to think about the whacky office too much. One thing that I did think though, was about the fact that my efforts have set the company on the way to phasing out the use of that dangerous spray-glue... but I won't be around to enjoy the benefits of my efforts! I pondered how this is often the case - the people who put everything on the line to fight something wrong and move things in a better direction often aren't around by the time their efforts have produced good effect. That's just the way it is, but still I had a cloud over me as I thought "They'll stop using that stuff because of what I did, and while all the employees will be happy to be breathing better air, no one is going to thank me for what I did, even though it got me fired....."
So... I was happy to get the following
e-mail from Ms. Gaimen - the Prez's secretary:
Date: Thu, 1 Nov 2001 14:53:59 +0900
From: "Gaimen" <email@example.com>
To: "Lyle Saxon" <LyleSaxon@prez.com>
I wrote a letter to you yesterday, but mistakenly deleted it, so I will try again.
I am wondering what the reason is that you have to leave. I don't know what Mr. Zangyo said to you, but if the reason is about the use of the spray, I think your opposing it was the right thing to do, and it was good for all of us. At least I appreciate that you spoke up. Since September, the condition of my throat hasn't been good. A doctor told me that I have both allergies and asthma. There is no doubt that the air in this building is more contaminated than it was in the old building. Maybe I have had allergies for a long time, but I think I've been affected by the bad air in this office.
Anyway, although I think you probably should have objected in a less confrontational way, I think you did the right thing.
I was/am very happy to receive that letter
from Ms. Gaimen, but we have a bit of history working together over
the past 20 months, and one thing I've learned about her is that
telling her something is usually the same as announcing it to the
entire company... soooo...... I intentionally put one piece of
disinformation in the letter I sent back to her - specifically about
contacting the Shinjuku Labor Standards Inspection Office (I finally
noticed that translation of the Japanese name on the door to the
office when I last visited there on Wednesday to give them an
update). While it's basically common knowledge in the company
that I am the one who contacted them - I haven't told anyone, so if
Ms. Gaimen proves to be the gossiper that she has been over the
better part of the past twenty months, that piece of disinformation
will leave the possibility open that someone still in the company is
watching... and still in contact with the men from the Labor
Standards Inspection Office. That way, they will not feel free
to ignore the issue..... My letter - to which she has not yet
November 1st, 2001
I was definitely fired over the toxic glue thing. They won't say that, because it's against the law to fire someone who simply asked the management to stop poisoning the employees and obey the law of the land. (Mr. Zangyo said I was being fired because I'm "difficult to approach".) The use of toxic substances like that is illegal - but they have managed to lie their way around it... but at least the lies they were telling us about that junk being safe have been exposed as lies and everyone knows (or at least should know by now) that that stuff is very dangerous. Do you remember how Iropoi-san became very sick and had to take off a few weeks because she had phenomena? After her Nantoka-san also because rather sick... but thought it was because of the air conditioning. Now Ochitsuita-san has been sounding congested and not very healthy for several months. Personally I find that I have to constantly drink tea or my throat burns.....
By yelling at top management in front of the whole company and banging my fist on the table, I knew I was risking getting fired, but if they destroy my health, then the money isn't worth anything anyway. I don't know why the management is so stupid. What's wrong is wrong. They could have just stopped using that stuff as soon as we moved. The company wouldn't have gone bankrupt... gluing might have taken more time, but making a small amount of extra yen in exchange for damaging people's health is just Wrong! I also think that, personally, Mr. Zangyo is happy to get revenge for my yelling at him in front of everyone.....
In any case. Thank you very much for writing to me about this. It means a lot to me that someone has taken the time to say what you said. By the way, did you mention the spray glue to the doctor? The more time passes, the more evidence comes out about the toxicity of those dangerous chemicals, but still I think even the experts don't fully know just how bad that stuff is.
As for how I went about it... I began very rationally sending e-mail saying how I had discovered that the toxins in the spray-glue were very dangerous and so we really needed to not use such dangerous chemicals here. Management's response - specifically Mr. Aruchu's response - was to lie and lie about it. "No no, it's safe. There's nothing to worry about.", followed by "The spray all goes out the exhaust vent" etc. etc. The more they lied to us, the more angry I became, which culminated in my yelling at them and banging my fist on the table. I should have just quietly done what someone did and call the agency responsible for safeguarding our health. Even so, when they came - I don't think I could have stopped myself from speaking out at the meeting where Mr. Aruchu claimed that it was safe - that everyone in Japan uses it, and that if they tried to stop us, we would take them to court!! That... idiot!
And now it's time to wrap this up. As
usual, I have a little bit of a sore throat from the bad air, and so,
since I haven't taken a lunch break yet, I think I'll print this out
and try to proofread it outside and then maybe shove it into the
wires here in Yotsuya. I know... I know... but I've wrapped up
the re-write and proof jobs that were sent my way already, so.....
Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon, Images Through
LLLetters@yahoo.com - Nishi-Shinjuku, Tokyo
November 2nd, 2001 - (KFMM-10/LL309/HRE040617c)
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